Second Shot made its name as a coffee shop and social enterprise, tackling homelessness one espresso at a time. Plenty of coffee shops offer help with pay it forward schemes, but Second Shot’s founder, Julius Ibrahim, went one step further, employing people affected by homelessness, giving them jobs in the short-term and careers in the longer-term.
Second Shot opened its first branch in Bethnal Green in 2016, but I didn’t manage to visit until two months ago. Then, just over a month later, Second Shot opened its second location, this time in Marylebone, between the station and Edgeware road. This time I didn’t want to leave it as long, so when the England vs Ireland Test Match at the nearby Lords’ Cricket Ground finished early, I saw my opportunity and went along.
Like the original in Bethnal Green, Second Shot stands on its own two feet as a speciality, multi-roaster coffee shop, up there with some of the best in London. It offers a different roaster on espresso and filter, along with a small brunch menu and a selection of cake. While the shop’s quite small, it’s larger than the original, plus there’s a specious basement/training room.
Hot on the heels of Origin opening its coffee bar in the British Library foyer comes a full Origin coffee shop, located just outside the Library on the Euston Road. This is now the fourth Origin outlet in London, with the first, on Charlotte Road, opening only last year. These join the two long-standing shops and the roastery back in Cornwall.
Long and thin, the Euston Road branch offers more seating options than the foyer, plus it attracts the passing trade, whereas the coffee bar in foyer was only really known to Library visitors. As an added bonus, there’s a kitchen at the back, enabling Origin to offer expanded breakfast and lunch menus to go with the familiar doughnuts and cakes.
The coffee offering, meanwhile, is very similar, although the Kalita Wave has supplanted the Aeropress as the filter method of choice, while a gorgeous-looking three-group Kees van der Westen provides the espresso. Here there’s a choice of the Pathfinder seasonal house-blend plus a single-origin, with another single-origin on batch-brew and two more on pour-over. Although both branches usually offer the same beans, switch-over can occasionally vary. This is all backed up by an impressive retail range, featuring numerous single-origins.
Those folks at Beany Green are at it again! No sooner do I visit/write about a place, than Prue and the team are changing things about! The latest example is the Beany Green at Regent’s Place, or Baby Beany as I think of it, which has undergone something of a facelift/reorganisation since going on the Coffee Spot this time last year.
The offering (healthy and innovative breakfasts, lunches and salads, backed up by Aussie-inspired cakes, all washed down with The Roasting Party espressos/flat whites) hasn’t changed. However, the look-and-feel has. The bench and tables along the left-hand wall has gone, replaced by two far more utilitarian high-tables at right-angles to the wall. Similarly, the counter’s been reorganised, the espresso machine being moved from all the way at the back to right at the front. Fortunately, the most important ingredient of all, the Beany Green goodness, is still available by the bucket-load!
In the foyer of the British Library on Euston Road, on the right of the doors, opposite the gift shop and next to the Friends of the British Library desk, you’ll find the second London outpost of Cornwall’s Origin. Although calling itself an espresso bar, it’s considerably more than this, and while not quite reaching the heights of the output of Origin’s flagship on Charlotte Road, it’s nonetheless very impressive.
From a small counter in the corner, Origin manages to deliver its seasonal Pathfinder espresso, as well as decaf, plus, (hopefully) by the time you read this, a single-origin espresso too. During the week there’s another single-origin filter on bulk-brew, while at weekends, it’s available through the Aeropress. For those not interested in coffee, there’s a wide range of Canton Tea.
And, on top of all that, well-stocked retail shelves have bags of beans and coffee kit for sale. There’s also food, both sweet and savoury. The sweet comes in the form of cookies, plus Crosstown Doughnuts, while for the savoury, Origin eschews the usual format of sandwiches in favour of a sausage roll for the meat-eaters and a Homity Pie for the vegetarians, which makes a welcome change.
Jika Jika started life in Bath about five years ago. It’s recently moved premises there, downsizing to a smaller outlet by the station. About a year ago it also opened a second branch. In London. As you do.
Close enough to Euston station to be worth visiting if you’re en route to catch a train, it’s just around the corner from the northern exit of Euston Square tube station (turn right, away from Euston itself, and ignore the branch of Costa). It’s somewhere I kept going past, thinking, “Is that the same Jika Jika as in Bath?” and “I must go in there one day”. So, eventually, I did. Twice.
There’s not a lot to Jika Jika, which occupies a corner of the Euston Square hotel (which, ironically, also houses the aforementioned Costa). However, it packs a lot in, including decent breakfast and lunch offerings. There’s a solid espresso menu, based around a bespoke espresso blend (plus decaf) from Cornwall’s Origin, using a two-group La Marzocco which dominates the counter at the back of the small space. If you have time to linger, the décor is interesting, including plenty of pictures and amusing coffee-related quotations.
January 2017: Jika Jika is now closed. As far as I know, the branch in Bath has also closed.
I can see why fellow-blogger Matt (aka The Gladieater) likes Leyas so much. It’s a delightful spot on Camden High Street, within sight of the famous Mornington Crescent tube station. It has an interesting layout, with a split level. This could be a nightmare, but Leyas has used this to great effect: there’s a small group of tables on street level as you come in, then steps lead up to the counter and down to a lovely basement. It reminds me of a smaller, cosier version of the Boston Tea Party on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road.
Leyas regularly rotates its roasters, with a different option on espresso, pour-over (V60) and decaf. Sometimes they are all from the same roaster, and at other times it’s a different roaster for each. While I was there in November, Alchemy was doing the honours on espresso, Nude on pour-over and Square Mile on decaf. On my return in June it was Mission Coffee Works and now it’s the turn of Assembly.
However, Leyas isn’t just coffee. There’s an impressive selection of cakes, a massive range of sandwiches and salads, plus extensive breakfast and lunch menus, the food all made in the kitchen at the back.
I began naming the various Beany Greens by using the train station that they are closest to. So this, the fourth of the Beany Greens (if you count Daisy Green as the first) in the Regent’s Place development, started life on the Coffee Spot as the Euston Beany Green to go with Paddington (Sheldon Square/Little Venice), Liverpool Street (Broadgate Circle) and South Bank/Festival Hall (midway between Waterloo and Charing Cross).
However, in order to avoid confusion with the kiosk at Euston Station, I’ve decided to call it the Regent’s Place Beany Green. Regent’s Place itself is a couple of streets west of Euston. Set back a little from the busy Euston Road, Beany Green is on the pedestrianised Brock Street, connecting Regent’s Square to Hampstead Road to the east. It’s also right on top of Warren Street tube station and around the corner from Euston Square (which is between it and Euston Station).
The smallest of the permanent Beanies, its trade (based on my visits) is predominantly takeaway. In case you want to stay, it has a neat window bar, a few tables and a nice, sheltered, shady outdoor seating area on the pedestrianised street-front. There’s the same Beany Green goodness, with innovative, healthy food offerings and excellent coffee from The Roasting Party, although space limitations mean it’s espresso-based only.
On Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Leyas to attend the launch of Coffee Break Delirium, a display of artwork by the wonderful Timothy Shaw which will be hanging in Leyas for the rest of the month. The event also doubled as a launch for Assembly, the new roasters/coffee collaboration, who over two new coffees for us to try. Leyas, as part of its regular roaster rotation, will be switching over to Assembly this month, so you can try the coffee first-hand if you want.
You may have come across the work of Tim when he graced the cover of Issue 4 of Caffeine Magazine (which some still consider to the best front cover). He also drew the amazing illustration on the counter at White Mulberries, while his work has graced several other coffee shops.
For a while now, I’ve been describing Bean About Town’s Coffee Van at the Real Food Market at London’s South Bank Centre as my favourite coffee cart/van/barrow/stall. While the coffee is excellent and I like Bean About Town in general, an awful lot of this has to do with Claire, the French barista who runs the South Bank van on Fridays and at the weekend. For the rest of the week, Claire can be found at Bean About Town’s coffee barrow at Kentish Town. Or so I was told.
This is the story of how I made the long, long journey to Kentish town (four stops on the Northern Line, Charing Cross Branch, heading north from Euston) only to find that Claire had grown a beard and changed her name to Rory… Either that or I’d missed her shift by a couple of hours… I’ll let you decide…
It’s almost impossible not to like The Fields Beneath, located underneath North London’s Kentish Town West train station. From the moment I saw it, I was sold, but if I’d been in any doubt, the warm and friendly greeting I got from baristas Jess and her colleague Vanessa would have won me over. Although they “only” work there, their affection for and dedication to The Fields Beneath puts some owners I know to shame.
It helps that The Fields Beneath serves excellent coffee from regularly rotating roasters, which means you’ll always be in for a surprise! However, it’s served without a hint of pretension and none of the snobbery that sometimes plagues such places. Jess was equally happy discussing the finer points of roasting with me and serving a “black coffee” to the next customer who came in.
It also helps that the cakes, pastries and bread (I tried the lot) are divine and that The Fields Beneath is a lovely place in which to eat them/drink the coffee. The only downside I can see is that the line serving the station, part of the London Overground network, doesn’t actually connect to any of the stations that I regularly use!