Regular readers know of my soft spot for Doctor Espresso Caffetteria, which opened in 2013 opposite Fulham’s Putney Bridge station. Espressino is the fourth in the Doctor Espresso Stable, joining Doctor Espresso – Mama V’s in Clapham High Street (2014) and Doctor Espresso N3, five minutes’ walk from the original on Fulham High Street (2016). Regular readers may also recognise Espressino’s location, since it’s the successor to The Black Chapel, Doctor Espresso having bought the business from previous owner, the legendary Ant.
Although the space is essentially the same, with a tiny exterior and seating outside on Chapel Yard, in many ways, everything’s changed, including the famous lever espresso machine, replaced (for now) by a La Marzocco FB80. While The Black Chapel served single-origins from various guests on espresso and filter, Espressino uses Doctor Espresso’s traditional Italian blend (espresso only), backed up with Joe’s Tea, fresh smoothies and a small breakfast/lunch menu.
You can see what else has changed after the gallery.
Espressino is in the heart of Wandsworth, just off the High Street at its junction with Buckhold Road. On the ground floor of a modern block of flats, it faces Chapel Yard, which takes its name from an old chapel (now no longer standing) which was a place of worship for non-conformists and Huguenot refugees from France and the Netherlands in the 16th/17th centuries.
The yard is a pleasant spot, with access from both ends, although the natural entry point is straight off Buckhold Road. At the other end of the yard is the Memorial Hall, which stands on the site of the old chapel and is now home to the National Opera Studio. Espressino is to the left, a long, shallow structure, its front all glass, while the most obvious change from when I visited The Black Chapel is the addition of a large, square pavilion/gazebo structure immediately in front of the store.
This provides shelter (shade when it’s sunny, or, in the case of my visit, holding off the torrential rain) for the outdoor seating, a pair of small, round two-person folding tables. Fortunately, the Tardis (aka an old police call box) is still in-situ against the opposite wall of the yard, which makes a nice back-drop to your coffee.
Inside has also seen changes, with Espressino far less cluttered than the old Black Chapel. There’s now a clear division between the barista/espresso machine/kitchen on the left, and the seating on the right, where there’s a low three-person bench and a pair of stools against the back wall, the lowest of a set of shelves acting as a bar. To the left is a counter, where you order and pay, although you can also order outside, where the division continues, with a long, thin table acting as an extension to the counter and holding the cakes. This works nicely, since it separates takeaway customers from those sitting in/out.
Another big change is the coffee. Those looking for variety, such as The Black Chapel offered with its rotating cast of single-origins, will be disappointed, Espressino opting for the standard Doctor Espresso blend, which can best be described as old school. While I enjoyed my flat white, the dark, slightly bitter taste of the coffee came strongly through the milk.
There are more changes when it comes to the food. The Black Chapel was vegan, whereas Espressino offers eggs on toast, with an option to add bacon, plus a range of panini. I went for the basic eggs on toast and was rewarded with some lovely scrambled eggs, an interesting green salad on the side.
A final change is Francisco, my barista. Whereas Ant could be (in)famously undiplomatic, shall we say, Francisco was all smiles, despite the rain. Catch him while you can though, since he’s leaving soon to start his own restaurant in Islington.
|1 CHAPEL YARD • WANDSWORTH • LONDON • SW18 4HZ|
|Monday||07:30 – 16:00||Roaster||Bespoke blend from Italy (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 16:00||Seating||Counter, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 16:00||Cards||Yes|
|Saturday||08:30 – 15:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||08:30 – 15:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||19th July 2019|
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