Today’s Saturday Supplement (yes, I know it’s a Wednesday; shush!) is a two-for-the-price of one deal: a visit to the third Bea’s of Bloomsbury outpost at Farringdon, and an update of sorts on the original Bea’s of Bloomsbury on Theobalds Road.
Having written about the original Bea’s and then the second outpost in St Paul’s within the first four months of the Coffee Spot’s life, I’ve taken my time to get to the third, and latest, of the Bea’s of Bloomsbury Empire of Cake. In fairness to myself, the Farringdon branch (or Mini-Bea’s as I like to call it) wasn’t actually open when I wrote about the first two. Even so…
Tucked away opposite Farringdon station in a curiously-shaped little building that’s almost all windows, there’s not a lot to Bea’s. Certainly it’s not the sort of place you go for a sit-down afternoon tea (unlike the other two). Although a pair of benches graces the pedestrianised street outside (with an excellent view of the Cross-rail excavations), this really is a takeaway coffee-and-cake kind of place, with a major emphasis on the cake (although there are sandwiches as well). Mind you, I expect nothing less when the company’s motto is “life is short, eat more cake”!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I have long been a fan of Bea’s of Bloomsbury and the excellent cakes that are produced there. In that respect, Bea’s of Farringdon is no different from the first two outlets: it’s full of lovely cakes. However, whereas the original Bea’s is a small café (now slightly bigger) on Theobalds Road and the second Bea’s is a more substantial space, spread over two floors near St Paul’s, Bea’s of Farringdon is so small that it rivals the likes of London’s own Goodge St Espresso and New York City’s I Am Coffee in the smallness stakes.
In fairness, it is slightly larger than either of these two coffee midgets, but not by much. For example, I don’t think I could touch both walls with arms outstretched (although, disappointingly, I neglected to try). Long and thin, Bea’s is pretty much what you see from the street. There are no hidden rooms, secret loft spaces or exciting basements: stepping inside through the door on the right-hand side of the shop, there’s just rack-upon-rack of cake lining the window to your left and an espresso machine directly ahead of you.
Talking of cake, all the usual Bea’s favourites, other than the cheesecakes, are here. There’s the ever-popular cupcakes; my own favourite, the cinnamon bun; the “townie” (a cross between a tart and a brownie) and the twitter-storm inducing duffin. For those who don’t know what the fuss is about, a duffin is a cross between a doughnut and a muffin. It’s something that Bea’s had been making for years, when along came Starbucks and its factory supplier, Rich Products, who trademarked the name! After a storm of protest (“duffingate”), it seems that Rich Products has backed down (for now, at least).
Perhaps more impressively, for such a small space, Bea’s also manages to pack in a two-group La Marzocco with enough room for three grinders by its side. The coffee here is strictly takeaway though, although you can, like me, sit on the bench outside to drink it. I was already over-caffeinated on the day I visited, so I got the barista, D, a friendly fellow if ever I met one, to make me a single-shot piccolo. Even though it wasn’t on the menu, he happily obliged.
When I first came across Bea’s, the coffee was from Square Mile, but recently it had moved to Drury Coffee. Now, in fairness, I really liked my piccolo: it had good, creamy milk and the coffee came through well without really dominating. However, not everyone was so happy and, after considerable feedback from its loyal customers, Bea’s has moved back to Square Mile, a fact I discovered when I popped into the original Bea’s a few weeks ago.
I had an excellent flat white and a cinnamon bun (I have, in the past, tried most of the cakes on the menu). Not much has changed at the original Bea’s, except that the big, wrap-around counter has been trimmed back a bit, creating space for another table, which, if I’m honest, is sorely needed. This sits in the newly-created gap between the counter and the window, slightly increasing your chances of snaffling a seat at busy times. The other bit of news is that the original is now open from 7:30 in the morning!
|43 COWCROSS STREET • LONDON • EC1M 6BY|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Benches (outside)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake!|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Wifi||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||17th February 2014|
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