My visit to The Fleet Street Press was an exercise in going from the sublime to the ridiculous, since I had just come from the soaring, glorious space that is The Wren, to the small, intimate series of spaces that make up The Fleet Street Press. Really, the two of them are like chalk and cheese, representing the two extremes of coffee shop spaces, and yet I love them both.
The Fleet Street Press fills a fairly awkward, long, thin space at the start of Fleet Street, opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. Spread over two floors, the highlight is a cosy basement, stuffed with sofas and armchairs, although upstairs, with its bright, window seats, bar opposite the counter and intimate nook at the back, is pretty decent too.
Talking of decent, The Fleet Street Press serves a bespoke seasonal house-blend (The Press Blend) on the espresso machine, roasted by Caravan, plus regular guests and a daily-changing single-origin on filter. Add to that a wide range of loose-leaf tea from London Leaf and award-winning hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection and you’re onto a winner. And I’ve not even mentioned the wide range of cakes and the friendly staff…
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Fleet Street Press is a lovely spot, set slightly back from the street, with the windows at a gentle angle, leading you towards the recessed door. This is well to the left of the store front, leaving an awkward-shaped space to its left which The Fleet Street Press cleverly uses for one of the best window displays I’ve seen. To its right, the recessed door creates the first of many intimate spaces, a little seating area with two round tables that is tucked between the window and the counter.
The counter itself dominates the upstairs, cakes to the fore, taking up roughly 50% of the right-ahdn side of the store. Against the right-hand wall, between the counter and seating area, a large chiller cabinet holds soft drinks and sandwiches (sadly depleted by the time I got there, late in the day). To the left, almost behind the door as it opens, is a set of shelves packed with coffee- and tea-making equipment for sale, while beyond that is a bar on the wall opposite the counter.
It’s after this point where things get really interesting. To call The Fleet Street Press cramped would be unfair, but space is definitely at a premium. The store, which was long and thin to begin with, narrows after the counter. On the left, stairs lead down, while on the right, beyond the counter and hemmed in by the stairs, is another cosy little seating area with two round tables, each with two chairs. In all you might get 15 people in the upstairs part of the store.
However, the best is yet to come. Head downstairs, and you’ll find even more seating in a wonderfully cosy basement that runs the length of the store. This is packed full of sofas, armchairs and more round tables, plus another bar right at the back on the right-hand side. The seating is laid out on either side of a central aisle, with a couple of intimate nooks on the left-hand side. You could probably cram about 30 people in here, although it would be very cosy indeed!
There’s a wonderful tiled floor downstairs and the walls and ceiling are painted white, making it feel quite bright. Upstairs is also surprisingly bright, despite the narrow, somewhat awkward layout. The all glass front sees to that, helped by a frosted window above the stairs which stops the seating area at the back from getting gloomy. White tiles, white walls and a white ceiling also play their part.
Back in Issue 8 of Caffeine Magazine, there was a feature on hot chocolate, with one of the example recipes was from The Fleet Street Press. I’d always promised myself (and Paul, from hot chocolate suppliers, Kokoa Collection) that I would try it one day. Since I’d had something of an over-caffeinated day at The Wren, this seemed like the perfect opportunity and I wasn’t disappointed.
My hot chocolate was lovely and smooth and, crucially, not too sweet, which can sometimes be a problem. I was well looked after by the barista, Viktoria, and her colleague, who tried to ply me with cold brew. I resisted, but had to have something from the coffee line, so compromised with a very fine takeaway decaf flat white in Keep Cup.
|3 FLEET STREET • LONDON • EC4Y 1AU|
|www.presscoffee.london||+44 (0) 20 7583 7757|
|Monday||06:30 – 19:00||Roaster||Caravan + Guest (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||06:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Armchairs, Bar, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||06:30 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||06:30 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||06:30 – 19:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||23rd June 2014|
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