For a long time, Iris & June, on Howick Place, between Victoria and Westminster, was a lonely beacon of coffee excellence in the local area. Yes, there was the venerable Flat Cap Coffee stall, but if you wanted somewhere to sit down, for many years after it opened in early 2014, Iris & June was the only game in town. All that has changed in the last couple of years, but just because there are plenty of other options in the area these days, this doesn’t mean you should overlook Iris & June, which reopened in July after the COVID-19 closedown and is just as good as ever, which I discovered when I visited last week.
Like many coffee shops operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Iris & June has had to make compromises, reducing its opening hours and stripping out some of the seating to maintain social distancing. However, when it comes to what matters, don’t be fooled: this is the same old Iris & June, with excellent Ozone coffee on espresso and filter, along with its innovative daily lunches. And, of course, the same high standards of service which makes Iris & June stand out from the crowd.
You can see what else I found after the gallery.
From the outside, Iris & June initially looks very much like it did in pre-COVID times, with benches outside either window, flanking the central door. However, as you get closer, you’ll notice a rash of notices in the window, all related to COVID-19 precautions. Perhaps most useful of these is a list of what are, for want of a better term, Iris & June’s COVID-19 policies and procedures. This lays out what Iris & June is doing to keep everyone safe, as well as letting you know what is expected of you as customer. I found it both helpful and reassuring.
The next change comes when you step inside. The layout is broadly similar, with the counter on the left and the seating on the right, but rather than just finding a table, you’re greeted by a sign asking you to wait to be seated.
Iris & June has cut back on the seating, taking the left-hand window-bar out of use entirely and dropping the right-hand one down from four people to two. Similarly, where there used to be a line of three four-person tables down the centre, there are now just two, while the long, padded bench against the right-hand wall only has four two-person tables along it instead of six. All very sensible changes.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Iris & June had a really relaxed afternoon vibe when I visited last week, calling in for coffee and cake. Although the staff seat you, you still order and pay at the counter before being shown to your table, a sensible move which means you don’t have to get up once seated.
The counter has the customary Perspex screens at the front, where you order/pay. You’ll also find the cakes here (facing the front) and the daily lunches. When it comes to coffee, Ozone’s Empire Blend is still on espresso, along with a decaf option, but whereas before you could expect to find three single-origin filters from Ozone and various guest roasters, available through the V60 or AeroPress, for the moment there’s just a single option from Ozone, available as a V60 or batch brew.
The single-origin during my visit was the Cerro Azul, a washed coffee from Honduras, which I decided to have as a pour-over. I was shown to my table, where a bottle of water and a glass arrived without my having to ask. This was followed by the coffee, which was served in a glass. Fully bodied and fruity, it was excellent, with a deep, well-rounded flavour. I paired this with a chocolate and caramel slice, with a thick, biscuit bottom and a gooey chocolate top that was even richer than my coffee. Perfect.
|1 HOWICK PLACE • LONDON • SW1P 1WG|
|Monday||08:30 – 15:00||Roaster||Ozone (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 15:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar, Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 15:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:30 – 15:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:30 – 15:00||Payment||Cards Only|
|Saturday||08:30 – 15:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:30 – 15:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 21st March 2016
Update: 18th August 2020
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