I’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.
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!
|1 HOWICK PLACE • LONDON • SW1P 1WG|
|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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