Bean & Wheat is one of several London-based ventures by chef/restaurateur Adam Handling, who made his name by trying to eliminate waste in his establishments. Bean & Wheat started life in 2017 in Spitalfields Market, when it was a coffee shop and delicatessen, but moved to its current location on Old Street (literally backing onto The Frog Hoxton, one of Adam Handling’s restaurants) earlier this year, at the end of July. Originally the concept was coffee (bean) and bread (wheat), but it’s recently expanded its offering to include craft beer (also wheat, sort of).
The intersection of speciality coffee and craft beer is slowly growing, but with the exception of Bristol’s Coffee + Beer, I can’t think of another speciality coffee shop doing what Bean & Wheat is doing. Plus Bean & Wheat has gone one better, allowing you to drink the aforementioned beer on-site (Coffee + Beer only has an off-licence).
As well as the coffee and alcohol, Bean & Wheat also sells bread, plus there are breakfast and lunch menus, plus a selection of cakes. The coffee, by the way, is from Union Hand-roasted, with the old favourite, Bobolink, plus a guest as well as decaf on espresso.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Bean & Wheat is on the north side of Old Street, towards its eastern end, just south of Hoxton Square. In Shoreditch on other business, and with an hour to kill, it was a chance discovering, literally seeing it from across the road as I walked along. Initially the name, then the A-board, caught my eye, an impressive feat given how small the shop front is, no more than a glass door on the left and a large picture window on the right.
Bean & White is long and thin, widening almost imperceptibly as it goes back, with the seating at the front, on the left, while the counter is at the back, on the right, with another, cosier, seating area beyond that, right at the back. A row of six mismatched tables starts at the door, running down the left-hand wall. The first four are two-person, while the last two, with rounded ends, each seat four. Opposite them, the right-hand wall is lined with rows and rows of bottles and cans filled with beer, the occasional cider making into the mix.
Next comes the counter, on the right-hand side, till at the front, facing down the shop, while on the long side, parallel to the right-hand wall, come the cakes, followed by the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. Opposite the counter are two square, two-person tables followed by a round four-person table. Beyond that, Bean & Wheat opens out a little to the left, where you’ll find more seating, a long, four-person sofa lining the back wall, with a coffee table in front of it. Finally, off to the left, next to the wine chiller, there’s a small, square two-person table.
Part of the motivation behind Bean & Wheat extending into beer was to provide a relaxed place where people could try various beers, etc, but somewhere that wasn’t a pub or bar (at one extreme) or a more formal setting like a restaurant (at the other). Based on the atmosphere during the day I was there, I’d say Bean & Wheat has nailed it. I’m not really qualified to comment on the beer, although I spotted a few coffee beers, as well as some low-alcohol beers, one of which I took home to try, along with a bottle of cider. The latter I enjoyed, but the former, sadly, tasted very much like beer, which is unfortunate since I really don’t like beer.
Turning to things I do enjoy, Union Hand-roasted’s Bobolink Brazilian single-origin was on espresso, along with Cococa, a Burundi single-origin, which, annoyingly, I missed, otherwise I would have tried it. Instead I had an espresso, served in a lovely cup, and made with the Bobolink, an excellent, well-balanced coffee which I know well. The breakfast and lunch menus, which can change on a daily basis, looked really interesting, but I was a little too late for both. Instead I went for a massive slice of apple toffee cake, which, on reflection, was a little too sweet for me. I followed this up with a rich, creamy decaf flat white, which I really enjoyed.
If you are looking for something a little different than your average London speciality coffee shop, particularly if you are into your beer, then I would recommend giving Bean & Wheat a go.
|321 OLD STREET • LONDON • EC1V 9LE|
|www.beanandwheat.co.uk||+44 (0) 20 3813 9832|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Union (espresso only)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free|
|Chain||No||Visits||17th August 2018|
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