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.
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!
|66 GREAT TITCHFIELD STREET • LONDON • W1W 7QJ|
|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
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