Iris & June

A black circle with the words "Iris&June" written in white inside itI’ve been meaning to get to Iris & June for a long time. It had already been on my list for ages when I ran into the owner, Jodie, at the True Artisan Café at last year’s London Coffee Festival. I was so embarrassed, I rashly promised to pay Iris & June a visit. With this year’s London Coffee Festival rapidly approaching, I thought I’d better pull my finger out! The problem is, the area around Victoria Station, where Iris & June calls home, just isn’t somewhere I go very often. So, when some friends suggested meeting up in Pimlico on Monday evening, I seized my chance with both hands!

Iris & June is one of those coffee shops where the focus is just as much on the food as it is on the coffee. However, whereas a lot of coffee shops would be happy with a decent espresso and maybe some batch-brew filter, Iris & June puts as much effort into its coffee as many a dedicated speciality coffee shop. Ozone’s Empire Blend is on espresso, but it’s the pour-over where Iris & June really shines, with three single-origins from Ozone & guests, available as V60, Aeropress or bulk-brew.

July 2020: Iris & June has reopened with pretty much its full service offering. You can see what I made of it when I visited in August.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Iris & June, viewed from across Howick Place. A little off the beaten track, it's worth finding.
  • There's a handy sign, visible from down the street...
  • ... and if you know it's there, the benches outside are a dead giveaway.
  • Interesting graphic. I visited on a Monday, by the way...
  • I never knew that!
  • Iris & June: on the outside, looking in, Part I.
  • Iris & June: on the outside, looking in, Part II.
  • Iris & June: on the outside, looking in, Part III.
  • Finally, I step inside. The counter is on the left-hand side...
  • ... while the bulk of the seating is to the right.
  • The view from the back, putting the seating and the counter into context.
  • There's a pair of window-bars as well, one on either side of the door.
  • The larger of the two bars is on the right (as you come in)...
  • ... while the smaller one, which is about half the size, is to the left.
  • The window-bar on the right, along with two of the square tables.
  • The first of the three square tables down the centre of Iris & June.
  • The counter, as seen from the seating at the back.
  • ... and some of the seating at the back.
  • Obligatory lighting shot (from the window-bar on the left).
  • Spot lights above the counter.
  • About the only sign of decoration are the tubes hanging from the ceiling.
  • Oh, and these lovelies on the end of the counter.
  • Talking of which, let's get down to business. The counter is beautifully uncluttered...
  • ... with a comprehensive menu on the wall behind.
  • The espresso machine, a La Marzocco Strada, is right in the middle...
  • ... with a grinder for the house blend and an EK-43 for everything else.
  • Everything else being the single-origins on the brew-bar at the far end of the counter.
  • Nice, simple pricing structure.
  • The brew bar also doubles as the take-away station.
  • The various coffees on offer are displayed by the till at the other end of the counter.
  • There are more details of the single-origins on the clipboard.
  • Meanwhile, the Empire Blend from Ozone is on espresso.
  • Facing you as you come in, right at the front of the counter, is the cake. Or it was...
  • I got there rather late on in the day, so stocks were rather depleted.
  • However, there were some friands left. And an apple & blackberry pie.
  • This is what the cake display normally looks like (photo provided by Iris & June).
  • The apple and blackberry pie looked so good, I had to have one. It came with cream too!
  • I paired this with a V60 of the Peruvian from Yallah Coffee, served properly, in a carafe.
  • The glass of water also arrived unprompted. I approve.
  • One last shot.
Slider Script by v4.6

For ages, the only good coffee around Victoria Station was at the venerable Flat Cap Coffee stall on Strutton Ground Market. However, this lacks a little something when it comes to seating, so Iris & June was a welcome addition when it opened in early 2014. It’s a little off the main thoroughfare, Howick Place running parallel to and one street south of Victoria Street, so you have to know where to look. However, it’s well worth finding.

Howick Place is a rather unpromising side street, full of modern, uninspiring and rather soulless buildings. In this bleak area, Iris & June jumps out like a beacon of hope, even though the interior is, shall we say, rather utilitarian. However, you can only work with what you’re given and Iris & June is to be commended for making a warm, welcoming, bustling spot from distinctly unpromising beginnings.

Slightly wedged-shaped, tapering towards the back, Iris & June needs its wall-to-wall windows to counter the urban canyon that is Howick Place and to stop the interior being too gloomy, aided by a generous provision of lights. The layout/seating’s in keeping with the utilitarian theme. The door’s slightly offset to the left and outside, on the pavement, there are box-like benches in front of either window. These are matched inside by window-bars, the one to the door’s left (two-person) being half the size of the right-hand one (four-person). This asymmetry continues, the counter occupying the left-hand third of the store, the remaining two-thirds on the right given over to seating. A padded bench runs along the right-hand wall with a row of six two-person tables and there’s a row of three four-person tables in the centre. A further four-person table sits between the bench and the window on the right-hand side.

The décor’s similarly utilitarian, the subdued colours of the bare walls, floor and ceiling interrupted by the occasional burst of black-and-white tiling. This could result in a sterile interior, but it’s very far from that, instead buzzing with vitality. The only real decoration comes from a series of horizontal tubes hanging from the ceiling.

Iris & June really scores with its food and coffee. The former’s prepared in the large kitchen at the back, the menu impressively changing each day. Based around a framework of soup, protein, sandwiches, salads and tarts, each day’s menu is on Iris & June’s Facebook page.

There’s an excellent range of cakes and sweet things which I just had to try, selecting the awesome apple and blackberry pie. This came with the offer of cream: it would have been rude to say no. A crunchy, sweet pastry case held a generous filling: rich, fruity and bursting with blackberries. I’m not sure it needed the cream, since it was excellent on its own, but it was pretty damn tasty with the cream too!

For coffee, I went with my barista’s recommendation, a Peruvian El Zapote through the V60. This was the first time I’ve had anything roasted by Cornwall’s Yallah Coffee. This was served, as it should be, in a carafe with a cup on the side, accompanied by a glass of water. A well-balanced, subtle coffee, it improved as it cooled, although it was always in danger of being overpowered by the fruity explosion that was my pie!

Monday 07:30 – 17:30 Roaster Ozone (espresso) + Ozone/Guests (filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:30 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:30 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 21st March 2016

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