What’s going on? For the second time in a week I’ve visited a local chain and started with the first branch! This time, instead of going to Bath, I’ve popped up to Putney and the lovely Artisan. And, unlikely rainy Bath, it’s always sunny when I go to Putney. I really should come more often.
My first visit was on a busy Saturday afternoon in March last year, when I didn’t have my camera with me. Back then it was so busy that the queue waiting to order was all the way back to the door! Tables were at a premium and several people were sitting outside in the sun.
I’ve been meaning to return ever since and finally made it back with my camera 11 months later, when I returned on a Tuesday lunchtime, only to find it was almost as popular. Tables being at a premium again, I ended up in exactly the same spot, a little table for two by the door to the toilets!
Artisan serves up Allpress’ Redchurch blend on espresso, and these days has Berlin legends, The Barn, on filter, with regularly-rotating single origins. There’s an impressive range of cake and food too.
White Mulberries is one of those hidden gems of the London Coffee Scene that you really need to know about if you’re going to find it. Tucked away in the lovely St Katherine Docks, opposite the lock with the Thames, it’s not the sort of place you’d casually walk past. However, once you’ve found it, chances are you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, even though the area is awash with cafes (I walked past five on my way to White Mulberries).
Run by husband and wife team Peyman and Rana, I was immediately struck by the friendly, welcoming atmosphere. It helps that the coffee, from London roasters, Allpress and Nude Espresso, is very good, while the cakes are excellent, but what makes White Mulberries stand out from the crowd is the warm welcome you get. It’s not a huge space and there’s not that much in the way of seating, but it’s the sort of place that makes you want to come back time after time.
April 2014: White Mulberries won “London’s Best Coffee Shop” in the inaugural London Coffee Stops Awards!
There’s not a great deal to Brewsters N7. It’s the sort of place you could accidentally walk past without noticing, save for the large, unsubtle A-board on the pavement outside, promising coffee. However, step inside and you will be richly rewarded by one of London’s newest coffee shops.
On the northern edge of Islington, halfway between Highbury & Islington and Holloway Road tube stations, Brewsters is one of the smaller Coffee Spots I’ve been too. Not quite as small New York’s I Am Coffee, it’s like a longer, thinner version of Manchester’s Caffeine & Co. Or, for another reference point, it’s about half the size of Bristol’s Small St Espresso.
It’s not so small that there’s nowhere to sit, but the lack of space creates an interesting dynamic since you really can’t avoid interacting with the barista. It’s just as well that Sonny, who was on duty while I was there, is a cheerful, engaging soul. For somewhere that’s so small, Brewsters packs a lot in, including a decent espresso menu, based around Allpress’ Redchurch blend. There’s also food, a decent selection of reading material and some interesting music.
[February 2014] Sadly I’ve recently heard that Brewsters N7 has closed. However, some of the guys who were working there have another project in the pipeline, so watch this space!
I must confess to being a bit slow off the mark with Glutton & Glee. It had been open for 18 months before I made my first visit, but I can guarantee it won’t be another 18 months before my next. Tucked away just off the High Street on Tunsgate, it’s somewhere I’ve always been aware of, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to visiting. Definitely my loss.
In many ways, Glutton & Glee is an old-fashioned British Tea Room with a modern coffee shop twist on the top. The bottom line is that it serves delicious cakes from the fantastic Butter & Cream Cakes (which you can find on Guildford’s North Street Market) as well as excellent coffee and (so I’m told by my tea-drinking friends) lovely tea. My approval in that direction stops at admiring the very fine teapots.
Glutton & Glee also does breakfast/brunch, lunch and sandwiches, but in my head it’s really an afternoon coffee and cake place of the sort that Guildford doesn’t really have enough of. Be warned though: it is small and it can be very busy, but at no point did I feel crowded out or cramped.
December 2015: Glutton & Glee changed hands earlier this year and has rebranded as Kalm Kitchen Cafe. You can see what I made of it when I visited in February 2016.