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With a decor to match the vintage barbershops of yesteryear, and Sharps have pulled out all the bells and whistles here, with a mixture of vintage furnishings, and modern fixtures.
While this particular visit was for a haircut, Sharps are also accommodating for those only interested in the coffee. The beans are supplied by The Barn, in Berlin, which flooded me with memories from my trip in October.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a big fan of shared spaces. This particular one also serves a more practical purpose, killing two birds with one stone, and the coffee is much better than the crappy coffee you’d be served at most barbers.
While it is great to have the option to have a coffee while waiting for an appointment, it is a bit impractical if you’re already in the chair. I found myself balancing a cup in one hand, while dodging stray hairs flying from my head.
Flat White - £2.50 (included with the price of a haircut £26) Beans - The Barn Twitter - @Facebook - SharpsBarberAndShop Website - sharpsbarbers.com
I arrived at the cafe for an afternoon coffee with one of my Cafe-Sidekick’s talking at the top of my voice, as I usually do. It took me more than a moment to realise that they were on air, broadcasting Soho Radio live at the time. The Barista assured me that they wouldn’t be able to hear me. I think that it reflects my personality best when say that I saw a challenge in there somewhere. However, as loud as my vocals are, I didn’t try penetrate the booth.
All that aside, the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs make a nice cup of coffee, made with their own beans, roasted in South London. There’s no better way to kick your afternoon into social over drive than to pick up a double shot Flat White.
I’ve mentioned it on my blog before, but I’m a big fan of places that have shared spaces. While not everyone can jump in and get involved with Soho Radio, it does give a cool vibe to the place, and you can watch them recording through the windows.
For a social place, the Soho cafe it doesn’t offer much space for people to sit, and kill time. It is more suited to the takeaway market. On this occasion I didn’t have much time to sit around anyway, but I from the title I imagined a large space with comfy couches, and leather armchairs.
Beans - Department of Coffee Website - departmentofcoffee.com Twitter - @]]> Facebook - departmentofcoffee
As luck would have it the queue at the Cereal Killer Cafe was not as long today as it has been in the past. However, this lucky period was short lived, and it wasn’t long before a large crowd of people started queueing behind us.
We may as well get the elephant out of the room, and jump straight to the point. This is not your regular cafe. It serves novelty cereals, from the US, the UK, and even Australia. Every kind of sweet and sugary breakfast treat that you can imagine is on offer. If you’ve seen it on an American sitcom, then they probably have it. They even have cereal cocktails. A bowl filled with a special concoction of cereals and flavoured milk. I ordered the Peanutbutter Captain Crunch, with an Oreo Cookies and Cream Pop Tart. I had a flat white on the side, but despite being made with locally sourced Allpress beans, the coffee wasn’t anything to write home about.
Photograph (left) by Tristan Fisher
The cafe is decorated with 90’s vintage cereal boxes, and tacky memorabilia. The walls are painted with bright, florescent colour, and there are multicoloured lights in the entrance way. The cafe itself is very dimly lit, which is a massive contrast to the vivid characteristics of the cafe, and its cliental. It seems odd that they would choose a dimly lit cafe when the whole premise of the cafe is to be bright and colourful. My favourite feature is located on the back wall, with murals of Dexter and Hannibal Lecter, two serial killers, created out of cereal (what else?).
The cafe is a fun idea, that is certainly attracting a lot of attention. While it is an expensive bowl of cereal, it is not an extortionate price, and is affordable for a fun and novelty afternoon.
While it is worth paying for, it isn’t worth the wait. At times the line seems ridiculously long, and the inside of the cafe is over crowded with people waiting to be served.
Flat White - £2.70 Beans - Allpress Medium Size Cereal - £3.00 Twitter - @Facebook - CerealKillerUK Website - cerealkillercafe.co.uk
Photograph by Tristan Fisher]]>
We arrived in the cafe, which was lovely and quiet, the perfect place to have a catch up. The first thing I noticed was that the Workshop cafe in Fitzrovia is much brighter, and has a different vibe to the one in Clerkenwell. The furniture is colourful, the paint on the walls is bright, the cups are a vivid green, and the glass lamps fill the space with light. There are little vases with flowers scattered throughout.
We had a look through the glass counter, and chose the last two ham and cheese salad rolls they had left, and both ordered a flat white each. Noticing that our meals were exactly the same we had a laugh with the pair working at the Cafe. The barista told me that we were having a symmetrical lunch, and asked if we had ever heard of #symmetricalBreakfast. He told us about a couple who go to great lengths to ensure their breakfast is symmetrical, and upload the pictures to Instagram. Our baristas then spent special attention to ensure our lunches were indeed symmetrical, including the delicate process of pouring two identical cups of coffee.
The pair were then very excited to see the picture, although I must agree with them, our efforts at the photography were not on par with our breakfast counterparts.
Over all I had an enjoyable visit to Workshop Coffee. The staff were fun and friendly.
The cafe is quite small, and will fill up quickly. If you want to get there for lunch, make sure you leave on time.
Flat White - £3.20 Beans - Workshop Coffee Twitter - @Facebook - workshopCoffeeCo Website - workshopcoffee.com
Just a block away from Piccadilly Circus, and surprisingly away from the hustle and bustle, is the Rapha bicycle store. The store is filled with bicycles, clothing, and accessories. To the side they have their cafe. The cafe is decorated with vintage cycling caps, jerseys, and newspaper articles. It’s quite novel walking around seeing all the cycling gear, and cycle routs around London.
It was fortunate and appropriate that I was with my fitness enthusiastic friend. We both frequently ride our bikes to work, and we spent the session discussing upcoming cycling adventures, and the different products we wanted to buy from the store we were currently sitting in.
There’s no denying that the cafe has an interesting vibe. There’s no shortage of conversation starters if you’re interested in the bike culture.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the presentation. We weren’t provided a spoon with our coffee’s, so there was no was to add sugar, even if you wanted it (fortunately we don’t have sugar in our coffee).
Beans - Workshop Coffee + Guest Roasters Twitter - @]]> Facebook - rapharacing Website - rapha.cc/london
We’d spent the day checking out the art covering the Berlin Wall, and decided to hit up one of the cafe’s on my Berlin list. Queue Silo Cafe.
Photo by Alex Goodfellow
One of the first things to stand out to me was the size of the venue. There are lots of wooden tables scattered throughout the raw interior. It’s clear that Silo want this to be a place you bring your friends to relax, and spend an afternoon. If your friends aren’t in the talkative mood, no problem! Silo have you covered with a range of boardgames. A group were setting up a round of Dominoes as we arrived. They also have a large collection of design and photography magazines hanging on hooks for you to read and kill time.
Unfortunately one of my friends doesn’t drink coffee (who invited that guy?). Fortunately Silo also sell beer for those wanting a drink with lunch, or getting an early start on the evening. It seems Silo have everyone covered, no excuses not to join in on the fun here.
Silo have a collection of cakes, muffins, biscuits etc, for those who are feeling like a snack. They even serve breakfast up to 3pm if that takes your fancy.
I really like the way Silo have made this a comfortable place to relax and chill with friends. You don’t even need to be in the coffee mood.
We had arrived later in the day so we’d missed the late breakfast / lunch run, so it was a little quiet in the cafe. In fact I thought they had closed for the day, as it took a moment before the staff to greet us. As soon as they noticed our arrival they were friendly, and very helpful.
Flat White - €2.80 Beans - The Barn Twitter - @]]> Facebook - SiloCoffee
The Barn was clearly a good first choice, as it became apparent while I was in Berlin, that they supply a lot of the Cafe’s with their beans. No Better place to start than with the best right? One thing became clear to me very quickly. Berlin is a city that appreciates its coffee, and The Barn is leading the way. For those interested they offer little information flyers (in German and English) informing the customer of the origin of the coffee beans, and the process they go through from the berry to your cup.
The Barn is a very small cafe, so if the weather is cold, you’d better get there quickly. Fortunately enough for us, the weather was warm enough for us to sit outside on the benches out the front. Locals sit and read their newspaper, and use a stool for a makeshift coffee table for their plates of cakes and sandwiches.
According to Timeout The Barn has a ban on prams and laptops. I have to be honest that I can see where they are coming from. By disallowing laptops they are enforcing a social atmosphere, however hypocritical that may make me (I am currently sitting in a cafe writing this now). As for a pram ban, this may be due to a lack of space, but could be about maintaining young and social vibe.
Due to its location The Barn makes the perfect stop off with friends after lunch, or a day shopping, and seeing the sights. It is peaceful and quiet on the side street, but easy to get to, with a number of transport links nearby.
The shop itself is quite small. If you are sitting out the front I find it a bit odd that the staff don’t bring the coffee to you. Customers need to wait inside for their name to be called. At busy periods the shop can easily fill with customers.
Flat White - €3.00 Beans - The Barn Twitter - @]]> Facebook - THEBARNBERLIN Website - thebarn.de
I had heared about Attendant from friends, but no ones explanation was able too do it justice, or accurately capture the subtle quirkiness scattered throughout. The small lights that hang from the chain that once flushed the toilet. The way each of the urinals have been converted into benches for seating. The water tank above each filled with flowers and hanging ivy. My favourite part is the loyalty cards, asking customers if they are regular. Genious!
Of all the toilets in the world, this is probably the only one where I would be happy to loiter, and meet friends, and not feel like a pest.
Novelty aspects aside, I have really enjoyed my visits to Attendant. The staff know a lot about coffee. I had a lengthy chat about the beans he is using (from Caravan) and why he likes using them. There are also a collection of cakes and sandwiches on display at the counter.
Great location, out of the way of the touristy hot-spots, and an original use of a venue. The use of humour is appreciated, especially with the loyalty cards. The staff also know what they are doing, and have some great coffee art.
Due to the use of cubicles, designed for privacy in their original purpose, don’t offer a comfortable social environment.
Flat White - £2.80 Beans - Caravan Twitter - @]]> Facebook - Attendantespresso Website - The-Attendant.com
As you walk up the steps entering the building, you aren’t quite prepared for what you’ll find on the inside. As you pass through the large doors, you are greeted with a vast space with tables scattered throughout. Located in the St Nicholas Cole Abbey Centre, The church has been restored based off Christopher Wren’s original design (hence the name).
The front counter is decorated with a map of the local area, carved into the wood, which is a nice touch, but doesn’t steal focus from the magnificent space. The massive stained glass windows at the back of the church and the heigh ceilings definitely steal the show here.
Located on the outskirts of the city, just near the Themes, The Wren is a peaceful and quiet haven. Perfect for tourists, and friends visiting you in the city. It is also a short walk to the Millennium Bridge, and the South Bank.
Despite the extremely friendly staff, for me it isn’t the most welcoming space. If I were to be with friends, my voice would echo through this place, and I would surely ruin the atmosphere.
Beans - Workshop Coffee Twitter - @TheWrencoffee Facebook - TheWrenCoffee Website - TheWrencoffee.com
Alchemy Coffee is a tiny little shop located on a corner of a quiet cobbled street in the City of London. I had arrived a little after the rush hour, but I imagine this place would be more suited for a takeaway on the way to the office, rather than a sit-in for a lengthy session. There isn’t any table space for seating, but they do have side benches facing out the window, It would be a little awkward for larger groups, but ideal for an intimate coffee. Due to its location it draws in the business crowd. I was the only person in jeans and a t-shirt.
The thing that impressed me the most was the knowledge of the staff. I ordered my usual flat white, and was offered a variety of beans to choose from, spanning from different regions of the globe. I was told the Colombian beans were ‘acidic and fruity’ and would compliment the flat white. I was then able to select the size of my coffee, ranging from 4oz – 8oz cups (I went with 6oz).
They also served a variety of food, with brownies, cakes, and sandwiches. I was tempted by the banana bread, made with peanut butter. I did think it was an odd choice for an ingredient, however it wasn’t an overpowering taste, and added a subtle hint of peanut butter to the bread.
I’d recently read about Alchemy Coffee in Caffeine Magazine. Word of the street is that these guys are one of the first to bring Cold Brew coffee to London. I spoke to one of the barista’s who told me that it had been extremely popular, and they often ran out. It is an extremely slow process to make a batch. I took my chance to try it here, and bought myself an Ethiopian Cold Brew, that I was assured would be ‘Weird and Wonderful’.
These guys really take pride in what they do. The staff know all about their product, and can offer you advice on what to choose if you aren’t sure what you are after. I can truly appreciate why they chose their name, they are making something special here.
Want to know more about coffee? They also offer training courses monthly.
They are only open from Monday to Friday. They cater for the business market, so it isn’t the kind of place I would like to hangout with friends.
Flat White - £2.40 Beans - Alchemy Twitter - @Facebook - Alchemy.London Website - alchemycoffee.co.uk