Kafi

Detail of the wall art in Kafi, Fitzrovia, showing small white flowers on a plain background.Kafi opened in April this year, joining a long list of excellent coffee shops in Fitzrovia, that small slice of central London between Oxford Street and Euston Road. While small, it has high ideals, including a dedication to sustainability, which includes soucing 90% of the material in the shop from recycled or reclaimed material, plus an emphasis (where possible) on local sourcing.

This is allied to a coffee offering of the sort that’s rather rare in London these days. Switching every month between house-roaster, Workshop, and a guest roaster, there’s a range of single-origin coffees, each matched to a specific extraction technique, including espresso, V60, Aeropress and syphon. There’s also cold brew, nitro cold brew, hot chocolate, a choice of 10 teas (plus cold brew, nitro cold brew tea options) and a series of wellness drinks. Finally, if you’re hungry, there are all sorts of cakes and savouries to enjoy.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Cleveland Street in Fitzrovia, under the shadow of the BT Tower, stands Kafi...
  • ... seen here from the other direction.
  • And here it is, seen from front on.
  • There's wisdom in that A-board...
  • ... and on the other side too (PS: that was me on leaving!).
  • For the literature/history buffs, Charles Dickens twice lived next door!
  • Check out the warm, welcoming interior, late on an autumnal afternoon...
  • ... although if you don't want to sit inside, you don't have to.
  • However, I think we'll go in.
  • There's an eight-person communal table in the middle, leaving a clear path to the counter.
  • Another view of the central table, with the windows at the front...
  • ... and the door, which is at the left-hand end, the seating running along the front.
  • This consists of bench seats, separated by planters, all made from reclaimed pallets.
  • There are two bench seats in the windows at the front (check out the stools below).
  • There's another planter in the corner and then, along the right-hand wall...
  • ... two more bench seats, separated, of course, by a planter.
  • At the far end, beyond the final planter, is a neat set of retail shelves.
  • Nice choice of reading material! And no, I didn't put it there. Honest!
  • Going the other way, there's some lovely artwork on the wall to the left of the door.
  • The artwork in more detail. Probably guilty as charged.
  • In case we forget where we are!
  • There is more painting on the doors to the kitchen behind the counter...
  • ... and on the front of the counter itself.
  • Finally, on the right-hand wall, a map showing where the current coffee is from.
  • As well as all the artwork, there are, of course, the plants. There's this one by the door...
  • ... and this fellow in the window...
  • ... plus this one in the corner.
  • Despite the large windows at the front, there are plenty of lights, including these...
  • ... plus these hanging above the counter.
  • Obligatary light-fitting shot.
  • And in close up.
  • One more.
  • To business. The large counter dominates the back of Kafi...
  • ... with the till, where you order, on the left.
  • You'll also find the cakes here.
  • There's quite a choice, including savoury options.
  • There's also a small retail selection, to go with the shelves on the wall.
  • There's a paper-based menu here...
  • ... with the coffee on the first page...
  • ... tea on the second (including cold brew and nitro cold brew tea)...
  • ... while the third and final page has the wellness drinks.
  • On the back wall, to the left, is a choice of beans, plus the various cold brew taps.
  • The far end, meanwhile, is the domain of the espresso machine...
  • ... which had my attention, so I started with a flat white, served in a handless...
  • ... ceramic cup, made by a pottery in East London. Nice latte art.
  • I paired this with a vegan vegetable pasty.
  • The lovely baristas, Sam and Cecily, let me have a sample of the nitro cold brew...
  • ... while I was drawn to the filter coffee, specifically the syphon, which you see so rarely.
  • Syphon prep, filling the bottom with water before...
  • ... applying the heat from the gas burner which drives the water to the upper chamber...
  • The coffee is added, stirred, and left to brew before the heat...
  • ... is removed, the coffee being drawn through the filter into the bottom chamber.
  • Finally, serve, in a carafe, small cup on the side. Check out the lovely colour of my coffee.
  • I'll leave you with a view of my coffee from above, sat on one of the coffee tables/stools.
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Kafi occupies a small spot on the eastern side Cleveland Street. The front is almost all glass, the door on the left, a single, three-paned window on right, which runs almost floor-to-ceiling, with a pair of benches outside. Inside, Kafi is almost square, the counter occupying the back third of the shop. A narrow, eight-person table sits in the middle, leaving a clear run from door to counter, where you’ll find the till at the left-hand end, along with a paper menu, the choice of coffee beans on the back wall. The espresso machine, a La Marzocco Strada, is at the far end of the counter, which stops short of the right-hand wall, leaving space for a small set of retail shelves.

The remaining seating runs in an L-shape along the front/right-hand side of Kafi. It consists of planters alternating with bench seats, which seat two at a pinch, although you’d need to know each other quite well. Made of old shipping pallets, they reminded me of the garden seating in Espresso Base. The seating starts, with a planter, immediately to the right of the door. There are two bench seats under the window and two more along the right-hand wall. In a neat touch, each bench has two cube-shaped wooden stools underneath which can be used for seating or as coffee tables.

The décor is interesting, the reclaimed scaffolding planks of the counter and table going well with the ceramic floor tiles and white-painted walls. As well as the greenery from the planters, there’s plenty of artwork, painted by either the owners (Yatish and Tripti) or by Ieva, one of the baristas. The reclaim/reuse philosophy extends to the milk, which is delivered in glass bottles which are then returned to the dairy.

Kafi alternates roasters between Workshop and a guest roaster, switching every four to six weeks. While I was there, the coffee was from Workshop, with Round Hill Roastery as the next guest. There was a washed Ugandan on espresso, although this will soon be replaced with the Haru espresso from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, which is only available in a handful of shops.

Since I rarely have Ugandan coffee (the last one I had in a coffee shop was in Chicago), I tried the espresso in a flat white, where it went really well with the milk. I was also taken with the handleless cylindrical cup, which comes from an east London pottery. I paired this with the vegan pasty, which had an excellent, moist pastry, stuffed full of slight-spiced vegetables. It was both tasty and filling.

Turning to filter, there was a Honduran single-origin from Francisco Alvarado on Aeropress, an Aricha Ethiopian single-origin on V60 and a Costa Rican on the syphon, which I decided to try, rarely seeing syphons in the UK. Served in a carafe with a small cup on the side, it was, as with all syphons, a little too hot at first. This is where the small cup came into its own, since it enables the coffee to quickly cool, allowing it to develop into a very smooth, full-bodied coffee.

Finally, the lovely baristas, Sam and Cecily, who looked after me royally all afternoon, gave me a sample of the nitro cold brew, made with an El Salvador single-origin from Climpson and Sons. It had a very thick body and that typical cold brew taste which I don’t mind, but it’s still not really my thing.

20 CLEVELAND STREET • FITZROVIA • LONDON • W1T 4JA
www.kaficafe.com +44 (0) 7543 184969
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Workshop / Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Table, Benches; Bench (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Cakes, Savouries
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 25th September 2019

You can also see what fellow coffee-blogger, Bex, of Double Skinny Macchiato, made of Kafi when she visited in May this year, shortly after it opened.

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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