I’m always surprised that there aren’t more speciality coffee shops in barbershops/hairdressers since they seem a natural fit to me. That said, London’s been at the forefront of this particular niche, ever since the first incarnation of Sharps Coffee Bar on Windmill Street. The latest entrant is Dark Woods Coffee x Ruffians on Maiden Lane, just south of Covent Garden.
Ruffians is a small barbershop chain, originating in Edinburgh, with this, it’s first London outpost, opening eight years ago. The coffee, in that respect, is a recent innovation, starting with a small pour-over bar before really taking off last spring with the addition of the Sanremo espresso machine, which coincided with the move to Dark Woods Coffee.
The result is a lovely little coffee bar at the front of the barbershop, with a concise espresso-based menu, pour-over and a small retail selection. Everything is served in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own, although you’re welcome to one of the four yellow stools at the windows at the front, or the bench outside.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
You’ll find Ruffians on the northern side of the pedestrianised Maiden Lane, near its western end, it’s blue-painted façade and yellow signs making it stand out from the crowd. The coffee offering, in the first instance, is more subtle, with the words “Dark Woods Coffee” written on the window. However, the presence of the signature Dark Woods A-board, with the strap line “exceptional speciality coffee served here” is the real giveaway.
Ruffians has a simple store front, central double doors recessed slightly between two large picture windows. A low, wide bench sits in front of the left-hand window, while on the right you’ll find both the A-board and the writing. The simplicity continues inside, with a white-tiled, standalone counter ahead of you and slightly to the left.
This serves as reception for the barbers, with a retail area for hair products on the left, and the coffee bar on the right, although you pay for your coffee here. Meanwhile, an opening in the back wall between the counter and the coffee bar opens onto a broad corridor. This leads past a fireplace on the right, flanked by a pair of armchairs, to a larger room at the back, housing the familiar barber’s chairs and mirrors. The fireplace, home to a wood-burning stove, is a popular attraction on cold, winter days, while the décor is beautiful, with abundant exposed brick, white tiles and old wooden floorboards.
The coffee bar has a simple, wheeled, wooden counter, home to the espresso machine and its grinder, which faces into the room in front of an exposed brick arch. To the left of the coffee bar (in the back, right-hand corner) is the neat pour-over station, while to the right, next to the window at the front, is a small set of retail shelves, selling bags of coffee and a small selection of coffee gear.
When it came to the coffee, I kept things simple, ordering an espresso in my Kaffeeform cup. This was made with Dark Woods’ Driftwood, which alternates with the Arboretum blend every few days. Driftwood is Dark Woods’ “house” Colombian, a washed coffee from the El Ata farm in the Tolima region of Colombia. I enjoyed this while sitting on one of the two yellow stools by the window on the left, my espresso smooth and well-balanced, with a pleasing touch of acidity. I also made friends with Mabel, the coffee shop dog, who came over to say hello.
|27 MAIDEN LANE • LONDON • WC2E 7JS|
|www.instagram.com||+44 (0) 207 240 8180|
|Monday||10:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Dark Woods Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||10:00 – 19:00||Seating||Stools, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||10:00 – 19:00||Food||No|
|Thursday||10:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||10:00 – 19:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||28th February 2022|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.
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