CanDo Coffee was one of many speciality coffee places to spring up around my old stomping grounds of Sheldon Square/the back of Paddington Station once I’d stopped working there at the end of 2015. In the case of CanDo Coffee, it first made a brief appearance in a canal boat in 2014, before reappearing in 2016 with a permanent pitch by the canal outside the back entrance to the station. There was a second CanDo Coffee pitch just over the canal at the western end of Paddington Basin. This slowly migrated eastwards over the next two years, reaching Merchant Square and the Floating Pocket Park at the eastern end of Paddington Basin by the time I returned to the area for a week at the start of June.
Serving espresso-based drinks using the Rocket 88 blend from Ealing’s Electric Coffee Company, it was just outside my hotel, making a perfect early morning coffee stop on my daily walk to the office. CanDo Coffee serves principally takeaway customers and only has takeaway cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. However, if you do want to linger, there are several tables scattered around on the grass of the park.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Paddington Basin is a large, rectangle of water, an offshoot of the Grand Union and Regents Canals to the east of Paddington Station, and, naturally enough, predating it by over 50 years. If you want a different landmark, it’s behind St Mary’s Hospital. As long as I’ve known it (which is only since 2013), it’s been undergoing significant development, with major office buildings springing up along its northern side. It’s now a pleasant, urbanised stretch of water, replete with cafes, bars and restaurants (including KuPP).
At the eastern end, you’ll find Merchant Square and, jutting out into the basin, Floating Pocket Park, a rectangle of astroturf, liberally scattered with four-person tables and a couple of massive, low wooden platforms that serve as benches. This is now home to the second CanDo Coffee pitch in the Paddington area. Starting life as a motorised trike, which was only open in the mornings, it migrated eastwards, transforming itself somewhere along the way into a little trailer and managing to stay open until three o’clock in the afternoon (weekdays only).
A word about CanDo Coffee. Although its mission is best described on its website, it’s basically a social enterprise, getting disadvantaged and socially-excluded people back into the workforce by training them and giving them meaningful work (in this case, running coffee carts/stalls). All of CanDo Coffee’s profits go to its parent, the CanDo Foundation.
There’s not much to the Merchant Square trailer, just a counter, espresso machine and grinder, the customers standing on one side and the barista, Victor, standing on the other, serving the usual espresso-based drinks. When I first visited the other CanDo Coffee pitch at the back of Paddington Station, it was using Monmouth Coffee, switching not long after to the Electric Coffee Company, now using Rocket 88, a blend of an El Salvadorian and two different Brazilian coffees.
I popped by on three occasions, twice with my Therma Cup for a flat white on the way to the office and once with my Kaffeeform cup for an espresso. I enjoyed my flat whites, the coffee going well with the milk, but on its own, the Rocket 88 really shone, Victor serving me an awesome, rich, sweet, fruity espresso with bags of flavour. An outstanding way to start my day!
December 2018: CanDo Coffee, Merchant Square has won the 2018 Best Takeaway Coffee Award.
|FLOATING POCKET PARK • MERCHANT SQUARE • LONDON • W2 1JZ|
|Monday||07:30 – 15:00||Roaster||Electric Coffee Company (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 15:00||Seating||Tables, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 15:00||Food||Cakes|
|Thursday||07:30 – 15:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 15:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Chain||Local||Visits||4th, 6th, 7th June 2018|
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