Coffee Shop and Cakes at Coffee Island, Upper St Martin’s Lane:
There are pockets of London that suddenly emerge as foodie destinations. Upper St Martin’s Lane, for so long a culinary desert, is one such area. Now, with Dishoom, Tredwells and more, it’s beginning to get a life of its own. The appearance of an artisan coffee shop is a great social indicator and Coffee Island, a newcomer to the UK, though already well established in Greece, provides a comprehensive range of goods at exceptionally reasonable prices.
It is, I am sure, all about building a brand, but I’m impressed by the elements that make up the offering at Coffee Island.
For a start, the coffee is blended from speciality coffees which come from the Coffee Island MicroFarm project. These farms provide limited edition beans to the Coffee Island shops and are selected and nurtured – Coffee Island supports them to make sure the working conditions of the employees are good and that the cultivation methods are optimised. The farms supported change regularly to ensure that there is sufficient supply for each of the Coffee Island stores.
In store, you can choose to have a bespoke coffee blend created for you, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee made using your own preferred way. Perhaps you like your coffee brewed using a Chemex or an aeropress? No problem.
Or maybe you are yearning for a good espresso or macchiato – Coffee Island has top of the range machines from Italy.
You’ll even find Ibrik coffee (traditional Greek or Turkish style coffee, brewed in a small copper pot on a heated stone.
There are sandwiches, salads and some very moreish cakes too.
What I liked best about Coffee Island was the attention to detail. Microfarm beans for the coffee, hand picked Greek herbs for the tisanes and a special decaf made using a chemical free CO2 method so that a caffeine free cup will still retain all the original flavour. You’d think all of this would come at a price, but actually, it’s cheaper than the posh version of a well-known chain that is just round the corner. Most of the speciality coffees are under £3.00 for a mug!
There’s a loft area away from the general shop where you could meet friends or sit and work. And, at the end of the day, if you like your coffee, they will send you home with your own personalised blend.
I was particularly fascinated by the Hario syphon method of making coffee, which looks a bit Heath Robinson but actually makes a very fine cup of coffee.
You can buy all the equipment in the shop too, as well as a range of coffees, teas, hot chocolates and tisanes. And, I know where I’ll be hanging out if I have an hour or two to kill in the area.
5 Upper St Martin’s Lane,
London WC2H 9NY