Curators Coffee Gallery

The Curators Coffee sign.I haven’t been to the original Curators in the City. The closest I got was walking past while thinking “wow, that’s small!”. In contrast, the second Curators, Fitzrovia’s Curators Coffee Gallery, is palatial in size. This comparison holds when considering the other Coffee Spots in Fitzrovia, where it vies with the likes of the tiny Mother’s Milk, through the (fairly small) Kaffeine, all the way up to the (not very big) Attendant and Workshop. Curators is so (comparatively) big that there’s a basement, and you all know my opinion of that!

Coffee-wise, Curators more than holds its own, the space giving it the freedom to offer a wide range of coffee. There’s a La Marzocco Strada dispensing the house espresso from Nude, alongside a regularly-rotating guest from various roasters (Nude included). At the other end of the counter, a neat row of Chemex (assuming the plural of Chemex is Chemex) awaits the call, each with its own scales and brass pouring kettle. There’s a choice of two filters, again from various roasters, with Nude and Square Mile predominating, ground by an EK43, modestly kept in a purpose-built niche amongst the shelves of coffee kit on the wall behind the counter.

February 2016: I’ve now (finally) rectified my oversight and visited Curators Coffee Studio, the original Curators.

March 2019: Sadly Curators Coffee Gallery has closed its doors for good. It will be sadly missed.

September 2019: Good news! Kiss the Hippo has opened its second branch on the old Curators’ site! You can see what I made of it when I visited a month after it opened.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

Curators is spacious as well as large. There’s a generous window running the store’s (considerable) width, stretching from ceiling almost to the floor, with a glass door on the left. Diagonally opposite the door, the counter dominates, taking up much of the right-hand wall.

Despite Curators’ size, there’s not that much seating upstairs, with room for perhaps 20 people, split into three distinct areas, adding to its appeal. At the front, a six-person window-bar is ideal for people-watching, while against the left-hand wall, a padded bench has four small, square tables, each with a low, round stool. The remainder of the seating is beyond the counter, where  a small niche has a further four small, square tables, again with a padded bench and stools.

The rest of the space is taken up with stairs down to the basement. These are on the left-hand side and run towards the front of the store, depositing you in an L-shaped space which is about half the size of the upstairs. There are two small, two-person tables on the right-hand wall and, around the corner in the L, another two two-person tables, plus two four-person tables along the front of the store.

The basement, with its white-painted walls, floor and ceiling is anything but dull, especially as it’s open to the front, where there’s a large window looking onto a natural light-well which houses a flight of stairs leading to a door (directly under the door upstairs). Sadly, it’s staff-only.

Upstairs is just as bright, with the naturally light from the window at the front is joined by more light at the back. The rear seating area has a sloping, transparent roof and next to it, on the left, is another window, this time of frosted-glass, which adds even more light. In the evenings, a few well-placed, bright spot-lights provide sufficient lighting, giving Curators a subdued, relaxed feel.

The high ceilings also add to the sense of space. White-painted walls (wood opposite the counter) and white-tiled ceiling give it a clean feel. Hexagonal floor tiles are replicated on part of the wall behind the counter, while the remaining floor is floorboards. The wooden counter matches wood on opposite wall and around the stairs.

The counter, which wraps around to the face the window, starts with the cake, sandwiches and till, followed by a pair of grinders (house and guest), the espresso machine and a very generous filter area, complete with built-in tap and plenty of room for a row of Chemex. A little menu gives details of the coffee available.

The house-blend is a bespoke blend by Nude, while I’ve had various guests during my visits, ironically, all roasted by Nude. I’ve also tried the Chemex, having a Columbian Los Monjes Huila by Square Mile (the other was from Clifton). This was nothing short of superb, very gentle and clean, what I’d expect from a Chemex. It was quite subtle, but sweet and even nicer when cold, when it developed a really juicy feel. I paired this with an excellent peanut butter and raspberry jam doughnut. It wasn’t too sweet, with a great, almost cake-like doughnut, with a great dollop of raspberry jam on the top to give it some oomph.

On my most recent visit, I was meeting friends for Sunday brunch. I started with a decaf piccolo (Nude again) which had a lovely balance of milk and coffee. The coffee came through very well, quite a strong, creamy taste when combined with the milk. I followed this with the guest espresso, a single-origin Colombian by Nude, a little sharp for me, but very fine.

Brunch itself was excellent. I had French Toast, which wasn’t too sweet and was topped with mascarpone and sprinkled with almonds. My friend had avocado on toast which looked delicious.

51 MARGARET STREET • LONDON • W1W 8SG +44 (0) 20 7580 2547
Monday 07:30 – 18:30 Roaster Nude Espresso + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 18:30 Seating Tables, Benches, Window Bar
Wednesday 07:30 – 18:30 Food Sandwiches, Soup, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 18:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 18:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 29th November 2014, 27th March, 5th April 2015

If you want to see some gorgeous photos of Curators, see the piece by Audrey Fiodorenko where you can also learn more about the inspiration behind Curators Coffee Gallery. You can also see what fellow coffee blogger, Jade Derrick, made of Curators, one of her top three central London coffee spots.

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