Although I’ve been through Washington DC a few times on the train, I rarely visit the city itself. So, when I took the sleeper down from Boston during last month’s USA trip, I was determined to make the most of the opportunity. I didn’t have long, so made a beeline for Peregrine Espresso’s Eastern Market location on Pennsylvania Avenue, a half-an-hour stroll from Washington Union Station past the US Capitol.
Peregrine Espresso occupies a small unit with a wide, glass front and a generous outdoor seating area which is actually on 7th Street, just around the corner from Pennsylvania Avenue. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s currently takeaway service only (so don’t forget to bring your own cup), although you’re welcome to sit outside with your coffee. In more normal times, there’s more seating inside, but this has been cleared away to provide plenty of space for customers who are queuing to order/waiting to collect their coffee.
Talking of which, Peregrine Espresso serves a concise espresso-based menu with a batch brew option, all the coffee roasted by Small Planes Coffee, owned by founders, Ryan and Jill Jensen. There’s also a selection of tea, plus a range of cakes and pastries.
I was able to rectify this oversight on my latest trip to America, when, on my way back to Portland (Maine) from Washington DC, I had a couple of hours to kill at Boston’s South Station, where you’ll find La Colombe on the other side of Atlantic Avenue, directly opposite the entrance to the bus terminal. Off the foyer of a modern office building, it’s a large, spacious coffee shop with its own street entrance. The classic La Colombe offering sees two options on espresso, another two on batch-brew and two more on pour-over. There’s also a range of in-house teas and draft lattes and, if you’re hungry, cakes and items from the grab-and-go fridge.
Ever since opening in 2014, Little Yellow Pig has been something of an institution in Hoole, Chester. Initially a small coffee shop, it expanded into the adjoining space. Now it’s expanded again, adding a second location in the narrow streets of Nantwich town centre. Opening in August last year, the new location is a cosy little spot, with an L-shaped seating area that holds 16 people at most. While it has more traditional coffee shop furnishings (lacking the mismatched tables and armchairs of the original), anyone familiar with Little Yellow Pig in Hoole will immediately feel at home with the quirky décor and eclectic posters on the wall, including Mr Little Yellow Pig himself.
There’s a standard espresso-based menu, with Hundred House‘s seasonal Bon Bon blend from in the hopper. There are also bags of coffee for sale, either whole bean or pre-ground. However, the real draw is the food, all cooked in the kitchen at the back, with separate breakfast, brunch and lunch options, backed up with a small selection of cakes. Take a seat, have a look at the menu (which is conveniently placed on the back wall), then go up to the counter to place your order.
Heartland Coffee Roasters is a pioneer of the North Wales speciality coffee scene, having moved to Llandudno in 2012. The roastery has its own Meet the Roaster feature, while today’s Coffee Spot focuses on the coffee bar within the roastery. I say “coffee bar” and not “coffee shop” because while there are many roastery/coffee shops, there are few coffee bars like the one in Heartland Coffee.
The idea is not to replicate the coffee shop experience, where Heartland would be in competition with its wholesale customers, such as Providero. Instead, the coffee bar provides a more interactive setting, one which can showcase the full range of Heartland’s output while allowing the customers to discover more about the coffee. In this respect, it reminded me of the Single O Tasting Bar in Tokyo, or the coffee bar at Fuglen Coffee Roasters, which has now sadly closed. Another example which springs to mind is 111 Roasting Works’ Tasting Room in Flagstaff, also sadly closed.
That said, you can always just pop in for a cup of coffee (or some tea) if you want, without having the full interactive experience, sitting at the counter, or upstairs in the mezzanine area overlooking the roastery.
I’m rather embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of Taylor’s Coffee House until I was tipped off by the staff of Nikki’s in Weybridge, particularly since Taylor’s has been around since 2014! Taylor’s has two locations, a kiosk-style coffee counter in Woking Market Walk and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, which is just outside West Byfleet Station, another place I’ve zipped through many times on the train to/from London without ever getting off.
Taylor’s Coffee House is on Station Approach, part of a row of restaurants and cafés on the right-hand side as you head for the station. It’s a lovely spot, with a sheltered, outdoor seating area and a three-part interior best described as a collection of sitting rooms, replete with numerous armchairs, sofas and cosy corners.
My tour of Tooting Bec continues with Communion Coffee, on the other side of Tooting Bec station from Green Monkey London. Unlike Green Monkey and Dee Light Bakery, Communion Coffee is a relative newcomer, having opened just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It has a simple offering of quality coffee and baked goods in an equally simple space, with the counter at the back, a window-bar at the front and a large, communal table in the middle.
Turning to the coffee, old friends Assembly are on espresso, while there’s a regularly-changing guest on filter (batch brew or V60/Aeropress/Chemex), plus Good & Proper tea. Communion also stocks a wide range of retail bags. Unusually, the default is for non-dairy milks, although there is a dairy option from Brades Farm (20p extra). If you’re drinking in, Communion uses HuskeeCups, while for takeaway, there’s a 20p discount for bringing your own cup. Finally, if you’re hungry, there’s a small toast and sandwich menu, plus a range of cakes and pastries, with bread for sale.
Continuing my exploration of those bits of South West London which historically I’ve sped through/past on the train brings us to Tooting Bec, which I visited last week. And where better to start than around the corner from Tooting Bec tube station, where you’ll find today’s Coffee Spot, Green Monkey London? Green Monkey is something of local institution, having opened in 2015, occupying the last in a row of five single-storey units east of the station on the south side of Tooting Bec Road. There are a couple of tables outside on the pavement, with much more seating inside, although if you’re ordering takeaway, there’s a handy to-go window to the right of the door.
Styling itself “coffee and brunch”, Green Monkey lives up to both these tags, serving Nude Coffee Roasters’ East Blend from a standard espresso-based menu, along with a range of loose-leaf tea (served by the pot), various fresh juices and a selection of smoothies. When it comes to food, there’s an extensive breakfast and brunch menu with various vegetarian and vegan options alongside meat-filled classics such as the bacon, sausage and fried egg brioche bun, all backed up with a selection of cakes and pastries.
Saucer & Cup is one of those places which has been on my radar since it opened in 2014. However, I’ve never quite been in the right place at the right time for a visit (or, possibly, never made the time/place…). Until last week, that is, when I was in Earlsfield, a mere 20-minute walk away. It was too good an opportunity to miss!
Saucer & Cup is on the other side of Wimbledon Park from the famous All England Law Tennis and Croquet Club, located on Arthur Road, just down the hill from Wimbledon Park tube station on the District Line. From the street, it’s a fairly modest space, but inside, it goes quite a way back, plus there’s a spacious basement.
The focus is on the coffee, which Saucer & Cup backs up with a concise and innovative brunch menu, all the food being prepared in the kitchen, which shares downstairs with the basement seating. Saucer & Cup only offers single-origins, with a seasonal house espresso from Workshop, plus a regularly changing guest espresso (currently Tim Wendelboe). There’s also batch brew filter and, depending on the time of day/how busy things are, you can always ask (nicely) about pour-over.
MONIES, which opened in May this year, is a Cornish-inspired spot, located on Upper Richmond Road between Putney train station and East Putney tube station. It’s a sizeable place, with a generous outdoor terrace at the front, allowing the shop to be set back from the busy road. Inside, the front is largely the preserve of the counter, but there’s plenty of seating at the back.
There’s a seasonal single-origin espresso from Cornwall’s Yallah Coffee, with another single-origin from a guest roaster on pour-over via the V60. There’s Cornish tea (Tregothnan), wine, cocktails, beer and cider, both to drink in and takeaway, plus retail bags of Yallah Coffee, joined by local roaster, Curious Roo. If you’re hungry, there’s Cornish ice cream (from the Monies family farm, no less), plus pre-made sandwiches, cakes and pastries from The Bread Factory, and brownies from The Post Box Bakery.
Lockdown Bakehouse, just around the corner from Wandsworth Town Station and Over Under, was a chance discovery that I made when visiting in August, prompting me to call in on my return to the area last weekend. A product of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockdown Bakehouse is just that, a bakery, which opened not long after the start of the pandemic. Since then, Lockdown Bakehouse has expanded as it’s evolved to meet the growing challenges of the pandemic, adding a small café, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot.
As well as selling the various loaves, cakes and pastries produced fresh each day from the bakery in the building behind the café, Lockdown Bakehouse offers a range of pre-made sandwiches and savouries, including pies, quiches and sausage rolls. Best of all, from a Coffee Spot perspective, is the top-notch coffee from Bristol-based Clifton Coffee Roasters, where a simple espresso-based menu is backed up by retail bags from various London roasters. While you can’t sit inside the café itself, there’s a large, partially-covered, outside seating area, plus a couple of benches right outside the door. Just be aware that Lockdown Bakehouse only serves in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.