The Gentlemen Baristas, which started life at the end of 2014 on Union Street, just south of the Thames, boasts, at the time of writing, four branches, of which this, on nearby Park Street, can legitimately be said to be the baby. In terms of look and feel, however, it very much has the air of a miniature version of the original, albeit with a cut-down coffee menu featuring two options on espresso and another on batch-brew, pour-over having been sacrificed to save space.
This lack of space also means that seating is at a premium, with room for four inside and another four outside on two benches. That said, there’s still the space for a well-stocked set of retail shelves, selling retail bags of coffee/coffee kit on one side, and produce at the other, including pickles, preserves and condiments. Meanwhile if you’re hungry, there’s a range of cakes and sandwiches. Another victim of the lack of space is cups, The Gentlemen Baristas only offering takeaway cups, so bring your own, although there are some espresso cups knocking around.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
This latest branch of The Gentlemen Baristas, originally known as the Coffee Store (and now known as London Bridge), opened in mid-May. On Park Street, it’s due west of Borough Market and the likes of Flat Cap Borough, and just down the road from the famous Monmouth Coffee, as well as being a stone’s throw from the original on Union Street. However, while the original had multiple spaces spread over two floors, The Gentlemen Baristas Coffee Store is a single, compact space, although it shares the same colour scheme, with dark woods and a blue-painted counter.
The Coffee Store is twice as wide as it is deep and almost as tall. The counter is at the back, occupying the full width, while on the left and right walls are the retail shelves, coffee-related stuff to the left, everything else to the right. This is mirrored on the counter, where the Faema E71 espresso machine and its two grinders are on the left, with the cakes and sandwiches on the right.
The only seating is at the window bars in the tall windows flanking the central, recessed half-glass door. Each has two bar stools, although during my visit, it was really hot, so the door, which opens to the right, was propped permanently open, effectively taking out one of the seats on that side, while on the left a large, portable air-conditioner unit meant that the two stools there were somewhat cramped. Alternatively, you can sit outside, where there’s a three-person bench under the left-hand window, with a smaller one to the right.
Sometimes small places can be cramped, disorganised affairs. The Gentlemen Baristas, however, is the opposite of this, beautifully designed and well laid out, more like a show-room than a working coffee shop, except that, of course, is it a working coffee shop.
The coffee used to be roasted on behalf of The Gentlemen Baristas by Bristol’s Wogan and Liverpool’s Neighbourhood Coffee, but is now all roasted in-house. The espresso options change on a monthly basis, with Gatsby (Colombia Huila) and Top Hat (Nicaraguan) on during my visit, along with a rotating option on batch-brew. There are two breakfast and two lunch sandwiches, one of each being vegetarian, along with a falafel wrap and a focaccia, all of which can be toasted.
I was there for lunch and had a very nice but spicy falafel wrap. Strategically, this was an error, since I couldn’t taste my coffee for maybe 10 minutes afterwards. I had a flat white, made with the Top Hat, in my Eco To Go Cup and, once my taste buds had recovered, I discovered that it was rather lovely, coffee and milk going very well together. Despite the lack of seats, the staff were happy to let me linger and chat.
December 2019: The Gentlemen Baristas now has nine locations, the majority of which are clustered around the original on Union Street (The Gentlemen Baristas Borough), although there are some north of the river, including the latest on New Oxford Street in Holborn. The Gentlemen Baristas also has its own roastery in Whitechapel, where it roasts all the coffee, including espresso blends and single-origins.
|11 PARK STREET • LONDON • SE1 9AB|
|www.thegentlemenbaristas.com||+44 (0) 7848 173175|
|Monday||07:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Gentlemen Baristas (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 17:00||Seating||Window Bars, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 17:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 17:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:30 – 17:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||09:00 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||3rd August 2018|
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