Taylor Street Baristas, these days more commonly known as Taylor St Coffee or just Taylor St, is a stalwart of London’s speciality coffee scene. Founded in 2006 by Australia siblings, Nick, Andrew and Laura, I first came across Taylor St in Brighton, visiting the now defunct Queen Street location. These days, Taylor St roasts all its own coffee and has nine London branches, six clustered in the City of London, one western outpost in Mayfair, and two in Canary Wharf. Oh, and there’s one in New York City.
Today’s Coffee Spot is Taylor St’s Canary Wharf branch, which, when it opened in 2011, was a pioneer in a speciality coffee desert. An awful lot has changed in eight years, as I discovered when I spent a week working there at the end of last month, multiple players having opened in the last few years. However, Taylor St is still going strong, seemingly as busy as ever, so I thought I’d better start here. There’s the Benchmark blend plus a single-origin on espresso, with three single-origins on batch brew if you’re really in a hurry. This is backed up with small but tasty breakfast and lunch menus, plus plenty of cake.
Taylor Street Baristas, one of London’s best-known mini-chains, seems to specialise in quirky locations in slightly out-of-the-way places, such as the Taylor Street Gallery, tucked away down an alley behind Monument. The Shed, as its Shoreditch branch is known, is arguably harder find, and is one of the oldest Taylor Street Barista branches.
Housed in an actual garden shed, it’s well-named: a tiny, intimate spot, where the outside seating, in the shape of multiple tables and chairs, easily outnumbers the four seats inside, which are at two bars, one in the window between the two doors and one along the back of the left-hand wall.
Despite its size, The Shed has a decent range of coffee, with two options, plus decaf, on espresso, a single-origin on bulk-brew, and a selection of loose-leaf teas from London’s Postcard Teas. This is backed up with various breakfast goodies and cakes throughout the day.
I’ve long been a fan of Taylor Street Baristas, one of London’s best-known mini chains. However, I came to Taylor Street through its much-loved (now sadly-missed) branch on Brighton’s Queen Street. Until last week, the only Taylor Street Baristas I’d visited in London was the equally lovely Mayfair branch. That I tracked down the diminutive Taylor Street Gallery (sometimes known as the Monument branch) is due to a chance encounter with the manager, Lisa-Laura, at this year’s London Coffee Festival.
Taylor Street was founded in 2006 by the three Tolley siblings, who run the company to this day. Until recently, a variety of roasters appeared at the various cafés, but Taylor Street now roasts its own coffee. While production ramps up, the Gallery’s the only one exclusively using Taylor Street Roasted, with other branches taking it as a guest espresso/filter.
The Gallery itself is a delightful place which seats about 20 in a slightly subterranean setting, with two more small tables outside in the narrow alley it calls home. Despite the size, there’s a single-origin on espresso, two more on filter (batch-brew or V60), the coffee changing every couple of days. There’s a decent range of cakes and savouries too.
For the past two years, Mayfair has been blessed with two very fine Coffee Spots: Everbean and this outpost of the Taylor Street Baristas chain (one of seven in London). Both are lovely, but in terms of coffee geekery, Taylor Street Baristas is the clear winner, with its house blend, guest espresso (both from Union Hand-roasted), guest filter (Climpson and Sons) and abundant tasting notes. There is also a small selection of food and a very appetising range of cake.
However, being good at (perhaps read “obsessive about”) coffee does not necessarily make a great Coffee Spot. Fortunately, Taylor Street Baristas has all the other attributes to be a success in abundance: good atmosphere, lovely surroundings and staff who are completely mad (in the nicest possible way)!
It could have been because it was the end of the day and the staff were cleaning up, but while I was there, the soundtrack was full of corny music, with the baristas singing along. It didn’t quite reach the heights of “Good Times” & “Don’t Bring Me Down” as sung by the baristas at Montréal’s Café Olimpico, but it was in the same league.
April 2016: Taylor Street has started roasting its own coffee, with the Mayfair branch taking it as the main espresso. While production ramps up, the other Taylor Street Baristas only have Taylor Street Roasted as guest espresso/filter, the exception being the Taylor Street Gallery, which has exclusively gone over to Taylor Street Roasted.