Kaffeine (COVID-19 Update)

My espresso, made with Square Mile's Red Brick blend, and served in a classic black cup at Kaffeine on Great Titchfield Street.One of the legends of London’s speciality coffee scene, this is the original Kaffeine on Great Titchfield Street, in the heart of Fitzrovia. It reopened in June, initially just serving takeaway, and has been slowly expanding its offering ever since. First, the internal seating reopened, then, in mid-August, following traffic restrictions put in place by the council, the outside seating was expanded.

Wherever you sit, you’ll get the trademark Kaffeine hospitality and some exemplary service. You’re greeted at the door by a staff member who takes your order. If it’s to go, you’ll need to wait there until your coffee is brought to you. Alternatively, if you’re staying, once you’ve ordered, you’ll be shown to a table (or allowed to select one if sitting outside), thus ensuring separation between sit-in and takeaway customers.

As usual, Square Mile’s Red Brick is on espresso, joined by a single-origin guest, which can be had instead of the Red Brick, or there’s a tasting flight where you can try them both. There’s a selection of cold/iced coffee options, plus tea from the Rare Tea Company. Finally, if you’re hungry, Kaffeine has the usual cake and pastry options, plus small breakfast and lunch menus.

You can see what else has changed after the gallery.

  • On Great Titchfield Street, in the heart of Fitzrovia, is a familir sight: it's Kaffeine!
  • The red-and-white barriers are newly-installed by Westminster Council, allowing Kaffeine...
  • ... to add three long, thin tables with benches at the side of the road.
  • This joins the existing outdoor seating, with a single bench to the right of the door...
  • ... and more benches in front of the window (excuse the chipboard, which is now gone).
  • Talking of the door, this is where you'll find the next change, when your progress is...
  • ... halted by a rope across the entrance. There's a small table to the right...
  • ... with a card reader (for payment), hand sanitiser and a polite notice asking you to wait.
  • A cake display in the window to your left tempts you while waiting for a member of staff.
  • Once someone arrives, you can order and pay, then the rope is unhooked and in you go!
  • The interior of Kaffeine is very familar. The counter is on the left, with tables on the right...
  • ... which you can see more clearly here, when looking towards the front.
  • The remaining seating is at the back, where there's an 'E' shaped arrangement of...
  • ... benches against the back wall. This forms two bays, each with its own coffee table.
  • I love the windows high up in the back wall which make it a very bright space.
  • In case you forget where you are!
  • There are more cakes displayed at the front of counter...
  • ... while at the far end is the Synesso espresso machine and its grinders.
  • Beyond the counter is a water station with a set of retail shelves on the wall behind.
  • The drinks menu is on the wall behind the espresso machine...
  • ... while there are laminated food menus dotted around.
  • What really impressed me was the table layout, each table with its own sanitister and...
  • ..... detaiiled instructions of what is expected of you (and what you're not expected to do).
  • I came for afternoon coffee and cake, all beautifully presented.
  • Here's my espresso, in a classic black cup...
  • ... which came with a small glass containing a palate cleanser.
  • I'll leave you with my Portuguese tart, which was delicious.
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Kaffeine took its time in reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, although that wasn’t for lack of ambition on behalf of the owner, Peter, who I was lucky enough to run into during my visit. In Kaffeine’s case, it was simple numbers: there just weren’t enough customers in the area to justify opening any earlier.

Kaffeine reopened on 29th June, initially serving a takeaway menu from the door, slowly adding to its offering as circumstances allowed. This including reopening the indoor seating, which, with the exception of the window-bar at the front, is largely unchanged. The outdoor seating is another story altogether, with Kaffeine initially relying on its small outdoor seating area in front of the shop, while its attempts to get additional outdoor seating were rebuffed.

However, after several fruitless approaches, Westminster Council finally relented and erected barriers, effectively turning the two-lane Great Titchfield Street (which was already one-way) into a one-lane street with seating areas for the various businesses on either side of the street. This was the week before my visit and, by the Tuesday morning of that week, Kaffeine had put out three long, narrow picnic-style tables with benches on either side. Although it’s not clear how long this will last, Peter is hopefully it will become a feature every summer (if you’re interested, here’s the lengths Kaffeine went to in order to get the barriers installed).

However, the drama wasn’t over. That Friday evening, after it had closed, someone managed to trip and fall through the front window (yes, fall through the window: I did a double-take on hearing that story too). Fortunately, no-one was hurt and, after emergency repairs, Kaffeine was up and running on Saturday morning, sporting the natty boarded-up window you can see in the gallery. The good news is that it was being replaced when I left, so by the time you read this, a lovely, new front window will be in place.

Other than the new outdoor seating, which joins a long bench and two shorter ones in front of the window, plus another short one to the right of the door, the first obvious change comes at the door, where a rope blocks your progress. A small table on the right has a polite notice asking you to wait for a member of staff, who will come to take your order.

I sat inside where I was immediately impressed by my table, which had its own bottle of hand sanitiser, a detailed set of instructions, clearly laying out what was expected of me (and, just as importantly, what I wasn’t expected to do) and a slip of paper where I could fill in my contact details. This, along with the meet-and-greet at the door, is probably the best example I’ve seen of how to manage the COVID-19 restrictions.

To business. I’d come for afternoon coffee and cake, having a classic Red Brick espresso, served in a classic black cup, which I paired with an amazing Portuguese tart. This had incredibly rich pastry and a wonderful, creamy custard filling, one of the best I’ve ever had!

I’ll leave you with one final piece of good news: Kaffeine Eastcastle, Kaffeine’s other coffee shop, reopened this week. You can see what I made of it when I popped in later on in the month.

December 2020: Kaffeine has won the 2020 Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.

www.kaffeine.co.uk +44 (0) 20 7580 6755
Monday 07:30 – 17:00 Roaster Square Mile (espresso only)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Benches; Tables, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:00 Service Table
Friday 07:30 – 17:00 Payment Cards Only
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits Original: 3rd October 2013
Update: 24th August 2020

Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.

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7 thoughts on “Kaffeine (COVID-19 Update)

  1. Pingback: Kaffeine | Brian's Coffee Spot

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