Story Coffee

A flat white from Story Coffee, made with Square Mile's Red Brick espresso and served in my Therma Cup.Occupying a bright, sunny corner just a few doors down from Birdhouse, Story Coffee has been part of the furniture in this part of London, which is just west of Clapham Junction station, for close to four years. Give how often I go up to London, this shows just how little I get out of the station rather than zipping through it on the train. The loss, frankly, is all mine.

There’s not much to Story Coffee, just a single, unfussy rectangular space, with plenty for room on the broad pavement for a cluster of tables. Meanwhile, inside is a mix of tables and bars. Since it started, Story Coffee has used London’s Square Mile, but that’s slowly changing, Story having recently started its own bespoke coffee, roasted by Modern Standard. For now it’s Square Mile’s Red Brick on espresso, with a different single-origin on batch-brew and another on pour-over. These change every day or two and represent your best chance of sampling Story’s own coffee, which occasionally makes an appearance.

For somewhere so small, there’s also an impressive brunch menu, prepared in the kitchen downstairs, and served until three o’clock each afternoon (four o’clock at weekends). Naturally, there’s a good selection of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On the corner of Sangora Road and St John's Hill, is Story Coffee.
  • I'm guessing, from this old advertisment above the door, that this was once a grocer's.
  • This is the view, by the way, approaching in the other direction along St John's Hill.
  • There's plenty of space on the well-shaded pavement for these three tables.
  • The handy A-board says it all, really.
  • The view down the side of Story Coffee along Sangora Road.
  • This is the other side of the A-board by the way.
  • Let's go in.
  • The counter, set back on the right, is pretty much dead ahead.
  • There's this neat, round, three-person table at the front of the counter...
  • ... while off to the right, there's this three-person window-bar.
  • There are two more windows down the left-hand side, looking out over the corner.
  • This three-person window-bar sits in the first window, beyond which there are...
  • ... a pair of four-person tables in the second window, with more seating beyond.
  • The second of the four-person tables in detail...
  • ... beyond which is the rest of the seating.
  • There are a pair of two-person tables on the left...
  • ... and a four-person bar along the back wall.
  • Looking towards the front of Story Coffee, looking from the back.
  • There's one of these polite signs on each of the tables.
  • Good choice of reading material.
  • More reading material.
  • It's not exactly having your name in lights above the door, but it's pretty close!
  • Talking of lights, these hang above the counter...
  • ... while these two interesting lights hang at the back.
  • There are also two fans which run down the centre of the ceiling...
  • ... seen here from the back.
  • Down to business, the counter is a neat, compact affair...
  • ... with the till, cake and menus at the front.
  • The cake and pastry selection is pretty impressive...
  • ... while there is a concise drinks menu on the wall. The brunch menu is on the counter.
  • The rest of the counter contains the lovely Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine.
  • Meanwhile, the filter (batch-brew and pour-over) is on a worktop behind the counter.
  • I popped by one morning for a flat white to go in my Therma Cup...
  • ... and was rewarded with some lovely latte art.
  • I came back the following day for breakfast, a very fine scrambled eggs on toast.
  • I paired this with an espresso, served in a classic cup.
  • Always a good sign when the crema coats the sides of the cup long after it's been drunk.
Photo Carousel by v4.6

Story Coffee sits on the corner of Sangora Road, from where it’s a five-minute walk down St John’s Hill to Clapham Junction Station (home of Story Works, Story Coffee’s new little sibling). It’s the last in a parade of shops that includes, a few doors along, Birdhouse.

A single, tall floor-to-ceiling window faces the busy St John’s Hill, where the broad pavement allows space for three two-person tables, shaded mostly by the shop, or, during the afternoons, by a large tree on the pavement. Alternately, around the corner on the quieter Sangora Road, you’ll find another two equally-generous windows, the first with a two-person table, the second with a long, low bench. The door, meanwhile, shows no favouritism to either road, being at 45⁰ to both.

A glass affair, with a small window above, the door adds to the feeling of light and space inside Story Coffee, aided by a light wooden floor/furniture, plus white-painted walls and ceiling. Two large lights hang at the back (where there’s no window), with four more conventional ones above the counter, although in a refreshing change (most coffee shops seem to have all their lights on even when it’s bright) these were switched off during my visit.

Story Coffee’s long and thin, maybe three times as long as it is wide. A window-bar occupies the front window, while another occupies in the first window down the left-hand side. This is followed by two long, narrow, four-person tables, both perpendicular to the wall, with two two-person tables at the back. These have a padded bench on one side, a wooden bench on the other. Finally, a four-person bar runs along the back wall. In an interesting twist, Story Coffee has a no laptop on tables rule, which is (refreshingly) rigorously enforced.

The counter’s on the right-hand side, a short, wooden affair, set back from the front window, leaving space for a single, round table with three chairs, the only chairs in the place. The till and cake are at the front, the angled door naturally depositing you there. The two-group Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine with its single Mythos 1 grinder comes next and that’s it. The batch-brewer and EK-43 grinder are on a separate counter behind the main counter, where stairs also lead down to the kitchen.

Although Story’s now roasting, it’s more interested in getting the quality right rather than rushing the coffee out, a commendable approach, so don’t be surprised if it’s all the coffee is from Square Mile (which was the case when I was there). I visited on Wednesday last week, but popped in the day before for a takeaway flat white in my Therma Cup. Returning the following morning, I had an espresso, the Red Brick proving surprisingly bright in a way I wouldn’t have liked six years ago but which I now find quite pleasant. This was curious, since I hadn’t picked up the brightness in my flat white the day before.

I was there for breakfast, choosing scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast from a brunch menu heavy on eggs/avocado on toast. This was a far cry from a dollop of eggs with a few beans from a tin on the side though. Instead I had a generous slice of sourdough toast, engulfed by a mound of rich, creamy scrambled eggs, some of the best I’ve had. My separate pile of baked beans, a mix of beans of various shapes and sizes, all covered in a rich tomato sauce, had clearly never seen a tin in their lives. A breakfast fit for a king!

Monday 07:00 – 16:00 Roaster Modern Standard + Square Mile (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Bars; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 16:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cakes
Thursday 07:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 16:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 25th, 26th September 2018

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.

You can also see what I made of Story Coffee’s little sibling, Story Works, and its flagship brunch spot in Wandsworth.

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6 thoughts on “Story Coffee

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