Mouse Tail Coffee, which started life as a coffee cart in Peckham in 2012, has been on my radar for a while. These days, in addition to the cart (now at Canada Water), there are four bricks-and-mortar stores under the name Mouse Tail Coffee Stories located in and around East and South East London, plus a coffee van at Canary Wharf.
The Whitechapel Mouse Tail Coffee Stories has been going for 4½ years, one of the area’s early speciality coffee pioneers. A small spot in a row of mostly sweet shops, it’s behind Whitechapel Road Market, sheltering it from the traffic on the busy A11. There’s not much seating, but it’s cosy enough to linger for an hour or two.
The concise espresso-based menu uses Mouse Tail’s seasonal house-blend and decaf from its roasting arm, Mission Coffee Works. There’s a good supply of cake, plus breakfast items in the morning and, during the week, salads and the like for lunch. Given its small size, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Mouse Tail Coffee Stories is easily missed, tucked away in a row of lock-up shops on the north side of Whitechapel Road behind the market stalls which line the opposite side of the broad pavement. It’s also a bit of an anomaly, since its neighbours seem to be almost exclusively sweet shops. Just around the corner from Whitechapel Station, with its excellent connections on both underground and overground rail networks, there are also plenty of buses running along the busy Whitechapel Road.
The shop itself is a simple double-width lock-up with rolldown shutters. There’s a little bit of outside seating, a cluster of five stools off to the left and a single, five-person table to the right. There’s not much more inside, the counter on the left and, tucked away to the right, a small seating area with a L-shaped wooden bench running along the front and right-hand walls, its hinged tops concealing storage space within. There are two small, rectangular coffee tables here, one along the front wall, the other, with a pair of low stools, along the right-hand wall. It’s a cosy little spot, with a lovely tiled floor and a glorious mural on the two walls. The rest of Mouse Tail is decorated with various chalk drawings, plus there’s an exposed brick wall at the back.
The counter’s a simple affair with a concrete top mounted on a wood-panelled frame. The front, which faces the street, holds the cakes and food, while the espresso machine, a two-group La Marzocco, is down the side, which is at about 120° to the front. The till, meanwhile, is on the corner, which is where you order and pay, before making your way along to the far end of the espresso machine to collect your coffee.
Talking of which, Mouse Tail has a lovely, simple espresso-based menu. You either have your coffee black, which is one price, or with milk, which is another. There is no extra charge for larger drinks, nor is there a premium for decaf or non-dairy milks. The coffee comes from Mission Coffee Works which I knew as a roaster, but until I visited Mouse Tail, I had no idea it was Mouse Tail’s roasting arm!
Mouse Tail serves its own bespoke seasonal house-blend (currently a combination of a pulped natural Brazilian and a washed Peruvian) while there are retail bags of both the house-blend and various single-origins, all on display at a small retail selection by the indoor seating area to the right.
I had a flat white in my HuskeeCup, the coffee producing some classic chocolate notes, going extremely well with the milk. I also tried, at the suggestion of Barney, the manager, a sample of the cold brew, a washed Rwandan. While it’s not going to convert me to ordering cold brew any time soon, I was pretty impressed!
December 2019: Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel was a runner-up for the 2019 Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
|307 WHITECHAPEL ROAD • SHADWELL • LONDON • E1 1BY|
|Monday||07:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Mission Coffee Works (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Benches, Stools|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 16:00||Food||Cakes|
|Thursday||07:00 – 16:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 16:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||25th May 2019|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.
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