This summer, something very special happened in the heart of Mayfair with the opening of Queens of Mayfair, best described as a high-end coffee, brunch and cocktails spot. That in itself is not that special, since the coffee, brunch and cocktails market is already well served, particularly in London. What makes Queens stand out is the quality of the coffee, with an espresso-based menu featuring a Brazilian Daterra, roasted for Queens by Difference Coffee. However, I covered all that when I wrote up Queens in its own Coffee Spot earlier this week. So what is it that makes Queens so special?
The answer is its coffee service, which caught the headlines with what has been tagged as UK’s most expensive cup of coffee, which comes with an eye-watering £50. For that, you get a very exclusive micro-lot of an Ethiopian Cup of Excellence winner. However, in fairness to Queens, describing it as a £50 cup of coffee hardly does it justice since you are a paying for a whole lot more than just a cup of coffee. Instead, you are paying for a whole coffee experience, something which, when I visited Queens last week, I had to try for myself.
You can see what I made of it after the gallery.
Before we start, I should make it clear that I did not have the £50 Cup of Excellence experience, which needs to be booked 24 hours in advance. Instead, I treated myself to the Best Geisha of Panama Experience, a comparative bargain at a mere £20, although the coffee experience I received was the same.
What do I mean by coffee experience? Well, rather than ordering a cup of coffee, which is made behind the counter brought to you when it’s done, the whole process comes to your table. Your own dedicated barista makes your coffee in front of you, explaining each step in the process. In all, from the moment my barista, Luci, arrived at my table, to the point she poured the coffee out and left me to drink it, took around 15 minutes.
I had a washed Geisha, from Hacienda La Esmeralda, the Leon 3 micro-lot to be precise, roasted exclusively for Queens by Difference Coffee. This is brought to your table, in the packet, along with a V60, scales, Comandante hand grinder and a large (pre-warmed) wine glass. The experience starts with some information about the coffee. This includes an explanation of why the roast is lighter than you would typically expect for, say, an espresso.
Next, 15 grams of coffee is weighed out and ground, at which point you have a chance to smell the ground coffee. Then comes the familiar (to me) process of making pour-over, accompanied by a step-by-step explanation. It’s akin to sitting at the pour-over bar at a really good coffee shop, only here you have the barista all to yourself.
First comes a short pour of 25 grams of hot water (94°C to be precise) to allow the coffee to bloom, then the V60 is topped up in a series of short pours to a total of 250 grams. The whole process, from initial pour to the final drop dripping through into the carafe, took around 3½ minutes. The last act is to pour a small amount of coffee into the wine glass, then you are left with glass and carafe to savour the coffee for as long as you want. The wine glass, by the way, changes the way that the coffee hits your mouth, which in turn changes how the coffee tastes.
So, how does it taste? Well, I enjoyed it, finding it to be a delicate, well-rounded coffee, with subtle, fruity notes which came to the fore as it cooled. Was it worth £20? I can only answer for myself, but in my case, yes, it was. As a one-off treat, it was definitely worth it, although I wouldn’t want my daily coffee served like this!
I do wish more places would offer this sort of coffee experience though: the only other time I’ve had something like this was at Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria in Rome in 2018, when Amanda and I ordered pour-over and our barista came to our table to make our coffee in front of us (as an aside, I’m saving the Cup of Excellence experience, which I really would be an indulgence if it was just for me, as a treat for when Amanda next comes to visit).
In closing, I do think that this is a personal experience, with different people taking different things from it. For example, if you don’t know much about coffee, it can be very educational, like a mini personal pour-over course (which, at £20, is pretty good value). For me, I appreciated the passion of my barista, Luci, who clearly cared deeply about the coffee (and the farmers) and enjoyed being able to talk about it in a way that most baristas rarely have the opportunity to do.
December 2020: Coffee Experience at Queens of Mayfair was a runner-up for the 2020 Best Saturday Supplement Award.
|17 QUEEN STREET • MAYFAIR • LONDON • W1J 5PH|
|www.queensofmayfair.com||+44 (0) 20 7459 4617|
|Monday||07:30 – 18:30||Roaster||Difference (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 18:30||Seating||Tables, Bar; Table (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 18:30||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Nibbles, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 20:30||Service||Table|
|Friday||07:30 – 20:30||Payment||Card Only|
|Saturday||10:30 – 19:30||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Sunday||10:30 – 16:30||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th October 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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