European Coffee in London
We thought it topical at a time of Euro 2016 and European referendum to write a little piece on coffee roasted in mainland Europe and available to drink here. There was a time when a few companies dominated London’s speciality scene but currently there are a wide range of roasters’ beans available. In terms of Europe, Scandinavia has always been ahead of the speciality curve but the burgeoning coffee scene in Paris, Vilnius, Riga, Budapest and Amsterdam and in many places throughout Germany, Poland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia and elsewhere, combined with lower import costs and a great increase in the number of London baristas originally from Central Europe has led to a blossoming in European roasted coffees available in London.
Let’s start in Berlin, The Barn’s coffee has become a regular here. Sharps Coffee Bar since its current incarnation has featured The Barn and served it in a consistently excellent manner. In Chancery Lane, Press Coffee regularly serve filters from The Barn, as does Peanut Vendor near Victoria Park and down in South London you can often find Barn coffees at Fields and Milk. James at Dose Espresso reports he frequently has coffees from Berlin as guest coffees due to their quality and the lower import cost. Recently they have featured Five Elephant and The Barn. Several London coffeeshops have featured Five Elephant coffees as a guest, such as Black Swan Yard in Bermondsey and China Plate Espresso in Stoke Newington. Röststätte is due to be featured at Second Shot soon,
It’s not all about Berlin in Germany. We miss having anywhere to drink JB Kaffee’s excellent roasts at Mother’s Milk but also from Munich is Man vs Machine whose coffee is frequently on the guest menu at Brixton’s Stir. Then from Hamburg are Playground whose brilliant packaging and tasty coffees have featured in the past at Store St Espresso.
Paris’ Belleville is on the menu at the consistently excellent Lyles and also currently featured at the aforementioned Black Swan Yard. From Amsterdam we have recently seen Sweet Cup at Second Shot, Lot 61 at China Plate and Headfirst at Lanark. Also from Amsterdam are White Label, currently featuring at The Black Chapel in Wandsworth. Black Chapel are known for frequent and diverse guest coffees. Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective is a little less often spotted as a guest in London these days than before but is due an appearance at Second Shot soon and has recently featured at Amoret. Aarhus’s La Cabra is served more frequently, often at Prufrock but also at other cafes such as Store St Espresso and Amoret again.
Swedish coffee has become almost a common experience in London. Helsingborg’s Koppi is a little less common than before but still found at White Mulberries and we believe it may still be found at Fields and Milk but might need someone to let us know if that is the case. Drop Coffee is served every day at Soho’s Milk Bar and Flat White and we’d recommend a visit to those for that juicy vibrant acidity that is Drop’s trademark. It’s also currently on as a guest filter at Bethnal Green’s Second Shot. Per Nordby’s coffee has featured at Store St Espresso and Peanut Vendor.
Although Terrone Coffee is very much a company founded in London and influenced by a trip to Portland, their coffee is roasted in Southern Italy. Amoret, in Hammersmith are also a coffeeshop with frequent European guests such as JB Kaffee, The Barn, Coffee Collective, Five Elephant and La Cabra.
A couple of cafes deserving their own paragraphs in this article are Store St and Prufrock. Store Street Espresso’s guest coffee programme has featured coffee from La Cabra, Koppi, Five Elephant, Playground, Man vs Machine, Per Nordby, Drop and a whole range of others and they are always worth a visit to see what is on. Guest often feature on espresso and on filter at Store Street and Prufrock.
Visiting Prufrock is often like a sweetshop visit for coffeegeeks and currently you can buy beans from the legendary Tim Wendelboe and thesuperb La Cabra who are practically a feature at Prufrock these days both for retail and brewed. You can often find many of Europe’s finest roasters’ coffees at Prufrock and you never know exactly what you might find. There have also been the excellent Prufrock Christmas takeovers where cafes from The Czech Repubic (Industra) and Romania (Steam) have taken over the Prufrock store for the holiday period and served some special coffees.
We certainly miss the days when Kaffeine had regular weekend guest espressos. And there are a number of great European roasters whose coffee we’ve only rarely tasted here. Examples include Good Life from Helsinki, Doubleshot from The Czech Repubic, Taste Map from Vilnius, Lithuania, 3fE from Dublin, Kaffa from Norway, 42 Coffee from Budapest, Barcelona’s Nomad and Poland’s mighty Audun. Most of all we just wish a London coffee shop would serve JB Kaffee again!
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