Not long ago, there wasn’t much speciality coffee around Fulham, just the long-standing Chairs and Coffee (shamefully, I’ve still not been!). However, it’s a rapidly-changing scene, which now includes the latest arrival, Pitch, which opened last week inside Fulham Broadway shopping centre. Pitch made a name for itself when it cut the back off a Cadillac and turned it into an espresso bar in Westfield shopping centre out in Stratford.
Now it’s got a slightly more conventional pitch right in the middle of the main drag at Fulham Broadway, serving Allpress coffee from an espresso-based menu, with decaf on a second grinder. There’s also hot chocolate, tea, sandwiches and an impressive range of cakes. It doesn’t stop there: Pitch has an astonishing seven types of milk-substitute! For what is essentially a takeaway place, there’s also seating at the counter (including power!), which is a nice touch.
Having started life in Westfield, which is about as mainstream as it comes, Pitch isn’t afraid of a little competition from the chains, and so it is at Fulham Broadway. Pitch has set up directly opposite Starbucks and there’s a Pret one door down. Who says speciality coffee can’t compete with the big boys?
December 2019: I believe that the Pitch Coffee location in Fulham Broadway is now permanently closed.
It’s that time of year again: summer’s on the way (although as I write this, I’ve had the heating on and it poured with rain all day) and the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up has once again appeared under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. A fixture since 2013, the Look Mum No Hand’s pop-up joins the (sort of) all-year-round options of the Beany Green container and Bean About Town at the Real Food Market. When I last visited, in 2014, Look Mum No Hands! had already expanded considerably since its first year. Unexpectedly finding myself in London last Saturday, I naturally made a bee-line for Queen’s Walk to see what had changed this time around.
I’m pleased to say that this year, Look Mum No Hands! is bigger than ever before, with an expanded seating area under the cover of the bridge and even more food/drink options. There’s the ubiquitous Red Brick on espresso from Square Mile, plus an impressive range of craft beers and cider on tap, backed up with Pimms, prosecco, gin & tonic, vodka & tonic and wine by the glass. There’s cake and pastries, plus, if you’re really hungry, hot dogs, including a vegetarian version.
October 2016: Look Mum No Hands! has gone for another year and sadly it looks like that might be it for now…
May 2017: I checked under Hungerford Bridge and there’s no sign of Looks Mum No Hands! this year. There is a bar down there in the spot which Looks Mum No Hands! normally occupies, which suggests, sadly, that it won’t be coming back this year…
Hatch Coffee is the latest addition to Newcastle Upon Tyne’s steadily-growing speciality coffee scene and had been open all of ten days when I visited one sunny Monday afternoon. Situated in an old hut which used to belong to the car park attendant at the top of Ellison Place (the car park’s still going strong, but is now pay-and-display, so the attendant and accompanying hut are surplus to requirements).
Given its size, Hatch’s set-up is truly impressive. With less space than you’ll find behind the typical coffee-shop counter, the owner and head (sole for now) barista, Mark, has installed a fully-functioning speciality coffee shop. The espresso’s from local roasters, Colour Coffee, plus decaf from Bath’s Round Hill Roastery on a second grinder. There’s tea from Canton Tea Co, hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection and a range of soft drinks, plus locally-baked cakes and other goodies. All that’s missing is pour-over!
To mark my return to the UK, Monday’s Coffee Spot is somewhere I’ve been meaning to visit for all most as long as I’ve been doing the Coffee Spot. Expresso Base is in the courtyard of St George’s Church, near the British Museum and just across the way from the original site of Wild & Wood. It’s easy enough to miss and is closed over the weekend, which might go some way to explaining how I’ve managed to not go there for almost four years (which, incidentally, is how long Expresso Base has been going, having opened a few months before I started the Coffee Spot).
Essentially an outdoor café, Expresso Base occupies the right-hand side of the churchyard, with plenty of seating and a gazebo at the back which houses the two-group La Marzocco. If it’s raining, additional umbrellas, etc, can be put up to provide shelter, but on a sunny day, there’s nothing better than sitting on one of the wooden benches and enjoying your coffee in the sun. The coffee, from Has Bean, is always a single-origin and changes on a regular basis, while there’s a small selection of cake if you are hungry. There’s also a guest roaster which changes every week.
It’s been well over a year since I ventured into northeast London in search of Terrone & Co and the Irrepressible Edy Piro. Back then, I paid a visit to the Terrone & Co stall at the Village Green Market in Hackney Downs. A few weeks later, Edy, the man behind Terrone & Co, decided to rationalise the number of pop-ups and stalls he was running and the Village Green stall was no more. Hopefully the visit I paid to Terrone & Co’s original venue at Netil Market on the last Saturday before Christmas won’t provide a similar kiss of death…
Occupying a convenient pitch right at the entrance to Netil Market, which is on the south side of Westgate Street, between the railway lines and London Fields, Terrone operates out of an old container (similar to the one that Beany Green uses on the South Bank). Although the operation is strictly takeaway (so bring your own cup), there are a couple of tables should you want to take the weight off your feet and, as well as coffee, Terrone also serves a wide range of spirits from its well-stocked shelves. Beware though: Terrone & Co only opens on Saturdays.
April 2019: Sadly Terrone at Netil Market is no more, although its espresso bar, Sottoscala, is still going strong.
Noble Espresso has become a fixture in Battle Bridge Place outside London’s King’s Cross Station, occupying a pitch that was once graced by the likes of Weanie Beans and Bean & Gone. However, for just over a year, Noble Espresso has been in occupation, regardless of the weather, serving excellent espresso-based drinks, plus tasty pastries, to all-comers.
Even more impressive, given that the two baristas, Shaun and Jonny, operate from a simple wooden counter, with little shelter from the elements, is the dedication to quality. Noble Espresso regularly rotates the beans on offer, which can make dialling in the new beans on a cold winter’s morning a particular challenge!
As I watched Shaun and Jonny serve a steady stream of customers, my admiration grew. There were no quick extractions here, no skimping on the steaming of the milk, with each flat white, latte and cappuccino carefully crafted and exquisitely poured.
November 2016: Craft Coffee has taken over the pitch from Noble Espresso as Shaun has decided to concentrate on his milk business, Estate Dairies. I can confirm that the coffee and service are just as good though!
Leeds’ much-loved Laynes Espresso, down by the station, has a second outlet, perhaps best described as a pop-up concession (although it’s permanent) on the ground floor of the sprawling Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen. Occupying a simple counter at the back of the main room, at first sight there’s not a lot to Laynes Espresso, just the espresso machine, some cake and a bar with three stools. There’s no pour-over filter and none of the food (not even toast!) that you’ll find at Laynes HQ.
However, scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Since Laynes is part of Belgrave Music Hall, you can take your coffee and sit anywhere you like, including the roof terrace. You want food? There’s burgers (Patty Smiths) and pizza (Dough Boys). There’s even a bar… And, once a month, Laynes takes the place over for Sunday brunch!
August 2017: I’ve learnt that Laynes has closed its operation in Belgrave Hall. Thanks to Wayne for the heads-up.
For a long time, speciality coffee in Reading has meant the (excellent) Workhouse Coffee with its two branches on Oxford Road and King Street. However, that is slowly changing with the arrival of several new players, including the intriguing Tamp Culture, which has been at the entrance to the Oracle centre since April of this year.
Technically a coffee cart, Tamp operates perhaps the most impressive set-up I’ve seen, with a counter that puts many a shop to shame and a range of coffee-kit and merchandising that surpasses many a speciality outlet. What’s even more impressive is that whole edifice is dismantled every evening and packed away in the Piaggio Ape that forms the backbone of the operation. There’s even outdoor seating and a nice big awning to keep the rain/sun off the counter.
Like Workhouse, Tamp roasts all its own coffee, with a range of around 20 single-origin beans. Two of these are always on offer, the choice rotating on a weekly basis, with plenty more beans available to buy. As well as the usual espresso-based options, Tamp also offers Aeropress and pour-over filter options (these aren’t on the menu, so you have to ask).
July 2020: Following enforced closure due to COVID-19, Tamp Culture has reopened, initially for takeaway and then, from the start of July, for sit-in service. You can see what I made of it when I visited at the end of the month.
Sometimes a coffee shop/company becomes inalienably associated with one individual; for example Newcastle’s Flat Caps Coffee is always, in my head, associated with founder, Joe Meagher. So it is with Terrone & Co and the irrepressible Edy Piro. Although Edy wears many hats (DJ, web-designer and ex-architect rub shoulders with roaster/distributor and barista), if you say “Terrone”, I’ll immediately think of Edy.
This Saturday Supplement was going to be about Terrone’s stall in The Village Green Market. Sadly, since my visit last month, Edy’s decided to rationalise the number of pop-ups that Terrone runs and the stall at The Village Green Market is no more… The Village Green and the Market, however, are still going strong, well worth a visit in their own right.
Instead, this is going to be a little feature on Edy and Terrone, plus a short tour of the Market, which you’ll find on the opposite side of the railway line from Hackney Downs in north east London. Don’t worry though; if you want some fine Terrone coffee, Edy will happily sell you some and there’s still Terrone’s Saturday stall at Netil Market, plus the exciting new café coming to Kingly Court in early August.
As regular readers may have worked out, my contract didn’t get extended at the start of June, so consequently I haven’t been heading up to Paddington every Wednesday. This in turn means that I’ve been missing my weekly trips to Beany Green. I’m therefore very grateful to the good folks at Beany Green HQ (aka Daisy Green) who have opened a new branch on the South Bank just for me! Since it’s just a few minutes’ walk from Waterloo, I can now get my Beany Green/The Roasting Party fix whenever I come into London. How cool is that?
Tucked in beside the east stairway of the Hungerford Bridge and almost on top of the Look Mum No Hands Pop-up, Bean Green’s container looks like another pop-up operation, but don’t be fooled. I’ve been told that the new branch has a multi-year lease and will be here come rain or shine, fair weather or foul (ie a typical week of a British summer!).
If you’re familiar with Beany Green in Paddington, then this is like a miniature version, with all the same elements that make my ex-regular haunt such a wonderful place, including the mad (in a good way) staff.