HR Higgins Coffee Room

A V60 of the Galapagos San Cristolbol at HR Higgins, beautifully presented in a carafe, cup on one side, resting on the window-bar in the basement coffee room.HR Higgins in a well-established name in London Coffee circles, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It’s also somewhere that’s been on my radar for some time now, so apologies that it’s take me until this week to get around to visiting. In the heart of Mayfair, a few minutes’ walk from Bond Street station, HR Higgins has a lovely, old-fashioned coffee (and tea) merchants’ shop upstairs (which features in its own Meet the Roaster). There’s also a takeaway counter up here, which caters to the morning rush.

However, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot is the lovely basement coffee room, which offers a full coffee shop service. If it’s too busy downstairs, you are always welcome to order your coffee, then take a seat at the window bar upstairs. There’s also a small outside seating area. In some ways, HR Higgins reminded me of the coffee scene in Tokyo, catering to a more traditional market (think dark roasts and multiple blends) and adapting to change (multiple single-origins, working directly with farmers). There’s a single option on espresso with multiple choices on pour-over, while if you’re hungry, HR Higgins tempts you with a small selection of cakes.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On the east side of Mayfair's Duke Street, on the ground floor of these lovely apartments...
  • ... stands this interesting, old-fashioned shopfront.
  • Nice window display!
  • So much coffee!
  • It's HR Higgins, by the way, which, despite the coffee-man tag, also sells tea.
  • Nice awning.
  • While making its name as a coffee merchant, what's drawn me here is the coffee room.
  • But where is it? Down there, perhaps?
  • That looks hopeful!
  • Yes, that definitely looks like a coffee room! But how to get down there?
  • Don't be fooled by the stairs though: it's just an emergency exit. Instead, head inside.
  • The door is on the left, recessed past the magnificent window display!
  • Inside, and there's a window-bar, which can be used as overspill seating...
  • ... and which provides an excellent view of the window display from the inside!
  • Beyond this is a large service counter on the right. This is used for the busy morning rush.
  • It's a full-service counter though, with its own espresso machine and grinders...
  • ... plus a row of V60s at the front, with a range of beans on offer.
  • The menu is on the wall at the back, pretty much identical to the coffee room offering.
  • The takeaway counter and window-bar seen from the middle of HR Higgins.
  • If you are looking for the coffee room proper, there are stairs on the right...
  • ... while beyond that is the tea and coffee counter, which will feature in its own post.
  • It's magnificent upstairs. Even the stairs are magnificent. And check out the mirror...
  • ... which gives some wonderful views of the counter at the back.
  • Let's check out the coffee room, shall we?
  • The stairs double back on themselves...
  • ... before reaching a small landing at the bottom.
  • The view across the basement from the foot of the stairs. There are tables in the centre...
  • ... with more tables against the left-hand wall.
  • The stairs, by the way, are in the back, left-hand corner.
  • There's a small, two-person table at the bottom of the stairs...
  • ... and another by a pillar on the right-hand side. Behind the second table...
  • ... against the back, are two sets of wing-backed comfortable chairs.
  • The second set of chairs is in the right-hand corner at the back.
  • The counter, meanwhile, takes up most of the rest of the right-hand side...
  • ... while there's a four-person window-bar in the windows at the front.
  • The view from the window-bar.
  • There's a door at the front, next to the window-bar. This leads, via a door to the left...
  • ... to the small basement courtyard. There's a solitary bench under the windows...
  • ... while there's a solitary table under the stairs at the front. Howeer, to get upstairs...
  • ... you need to use the stairs at the back.
  • HR Higgins is 75 years old and the walls are full of pictures covering its history.
  • This is just one of them, the original Mr HR Higgins, making delivers during the war.
  • Other nice touches include these flowers on the counter upstairs.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot. These hang in the coffee room in the basement...
  • ... as do these, which are above the window-bar.
  • Down to business. You order at the counter...
  • ... where you'll find the concise coffee menu to the right.
  • There's a small selection of cakes on the left.
  • I was particularly drawn to the individual Bakewell tarts...
  • ... so I ordered one.
  • There's a single option on espresso...
  • ... but I was drawn by the pour-over. There are two regular choices...
  • ... but I went for the Galapagos San Cristolbol, served in a carafe with a cup on the side...
  • ... all presented on a small tray.
  • My coffee, seen from above, which is where I'll leave you.
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HR Higgins is on the eastern side of Duke Street, on the ground floor of a row of brick-built Victorian apartments. Its modest, old fashioned shopfront is set back slightly from the street, with the entrance on the left, while a lightwell to the right reveals a small basement courtyard and the windows of the downstairs coffee room. Metal steps lead down to the courtyard, but are only for use as an emergency exit, not a short cut to the coffee room.

The upstairs part of HR Higgins is split in two, with the front half dominated by a takeaway counter on the right, complete with a row of V60s and its own espresso machine. There’s also a four-person window-bar which serves as overflow seating if downstairs is too busy. Meanwhile, at the back, the old-fashioned, wood-panelled retail counter dispenses coffee and loose-leaf tea, all weighed out on old-fashioned scales.

The entrance to the coffee room is between the two, a staircase on the right doubling back on itself to deposit you in the back, left-hand corner of the basement (which only extends back as far as the stairs). It’s surprisingly bright down here, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the small basement courtyard at the front, where a door on the right leads to the toilet (extending out under the pavement) and, via a second door on the left, the courtyard, which doubles as the smoking area. There’s a solitary table tucked away under the metal stairs and a single low bench running along the front of the window.

The modest counter is at the front on the right (your left as you look from the bottom of the stairs), with a small selection of cakes on the left and a menu on the wall to the right. The rest of the basement is given over to the seating, with a four-person window-bar at the front, two four-person tables against a wooden bench along the left-hand wall and four, two-person tables in a square arrangement in the centre.

The remaining seating is at the back, with a solitary two-person table at the foot of the stairs and another two-person table in line with the end of the counter, next to a pillar supporting the ceiling. Finally, there are two pairs of comfortable, wing-backed chairs along the back wall, effectively under the stairs, each pair with a single, low coffee table between them.

When it comes to coffee, there’s a single option on espresso, served from a concise menu. Currently this is a single-origin Brazil Daterra Bruzzi, although it will probably change in the next few weeks, with HR Higgins heading into autumn and the winter months with its blends, the specific option changing every month or so.

There’s more choice on pour-over through the V60, with the Higgins Coffee-House Blend joined by a dark-roasted Monsoon Malabar. If you want something different, there are three seasonal specials on pour-over, a Colombian Pacamara, Galapagos San Cristolbol and Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Having never had coffee from the Galapagos before, I went for the San Cristolbol. A full-bodied coffee, it grew on me as it cooled, developing a richness, with fruity highlights that was a nice contrast to the lighter, fruiter coffees that I often enjoy. I paired this with a gorgeous individual Bakewell tart. With a lovely, rich, thick pastry, and subtle almond taste, it had just enough jam to add to the sweetness without overwhelming it. Perfect.

For more on the history of HR Higgins, which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year, check out the Meet the Roaster feature on HR Higgins Coffee Man.

December 2019: HR Higgins Coffee Room was a runner-up for the 2019 Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.

79 DUKE STREET• MAYFAIR • LONDON • W1K 5AS +44 (0) 20 7491 8819
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster HR Higgins (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Comfy Chairs, Window-Bars; Table (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Payment Cash + Cards
Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
Chain No Visits 24th September 2019

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1 thought on “HR Higgins Coffee Room

  1. Pingback: Meet the Roaster: HR Higgins Coffee Man | Brian's Coffee Spot

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