Rob's coffee review: part one
As a lapsed London coffee blogger & loyal Earlsfield resident, I jumped at the chance to review our burgeoning local coffee offerings for Go Earlsfield (who I follow avidly on Twitter). I moved in to the area around five years ago and it is amazing how many great places to drink coffee have opened since then.
The first on my list will actually be known to locals as a great place to drink something a bit stronger than caffeine – Bar 366 (www.threesixsix.co.uk) is an Earlsfield institution and (in my humble opinion) makes some of the best cocktails in London (and believe me I have done a LOT of research). Now known as Three Six Six, they're opening in the mornings for breakfast and coffee – in fact they are opening at 7am on weekdays, so a perfect stop off for that vital pre commute caffeine fix.
With the large selection of quality booze hidden by a curtain for their daytime incarnation, Three Six Six successfully presented as a cosy cafe when we visited on Saturday morning. The eclectic and cluttered style, with lots of artwork and quirky wallpaper, old sofas and mismatched chairs and tables actually worked really well as a breakfast venue.
The flat whites we ordered were made with Drury coffee beans – an older, more established roaster and not as widely used in “artisan” cafes as some of the product from the newer, hipper roasteries. Our first flat white (and yes there were several) was sweet and honey-ish with well steamed milk, served in old fashioned china cups (which I have always liked) – it was lovely and very drinkable and got a big thumbs up from my other half, who likes the sweeter end of the coffee spectrum. The super friendly waiter was very keen that we try the other beans they use and so asked his barista to make us two more flat whites. When they came he had accidently made them with the same beans and out of politeness and not wanting to waste well made coffees we drank them before being delivered flat white number three with the alternative beans.
|Three Six Six's Drury flat white|
Our next stop on the Earlsfield coffee tour was Belle Amie (www.belle-amie.co.uk) which was one of the first cafes serving decent coffee to open up in Earlsfield, albeit under the Vida E Caffe brand. In its current form as Belle Amie, it is definitely a “yummy mummy” sort of place – always full of mums and strollers, young families and little kids, which has meant I have tended to bypass it, on my way up Garratt Lane to Bean & Hop or Ben’s (more on them later).
So it was actually nice to go in and check it out – it’s a good looking cafe, buzzy and yes, very family friendly. As well as serving coffee and sandwiches etc there are some amazing cakes on offer, so even though we’d just had breakfast we ordered some sweet treats to go with our flat whites – including an amazing, dense, chocolate & raspberry brownie which was pretty intense (in a good way).
The friendly guy who took my order asked if I wanted a single or double shot and instinctively, as a caffeine junkie, I said double. I hadn’t realised that this meant the flat white came in a large cup so it was a lot of coffee. Importantly though it was a lot of good coffee – using Allpress beans (a NZ roastery that set up shop in London a few years ago and roasts in East London) and topped with expertly steamed, silky smooth milk. With more acidity than our Three Six Six coffees this was a lovely flat white, just a bit big.
|Belle Amie's Allpress flat white|
Next time I will know to ask for a double shot in a small cup – which is the way I like them. This is a really nice cafe but inevitably because of the fact it is more hectic than somewhere like Bar 366, the service was not as personal (for example, we didn’t get water glasses) but that is only a small gripe.
Feeling a bit hyper and slightly edgy after 4 flat whites, we took a bit of a break (aka lying on the couch watching Netflix) before venturing out again to sample cafe number three – one of my personal favourite venues in Earlsfield, Bean & Hop (www.beanandhop.co.uk) – formerly known as the Earlsfield Deli.
When John opened the Deli back in 2011, local coffee lovers and foodies were beside themselves with excitement. Finally we had our own “artisan” coffee shop, selling great food, fresh bread, craft beer, cool “stuff”. It meant no more having to trek to Battersea or into Soho for a good flat white, we could have one right here on Garratt Lane and feel like we were in a place that rivalled all the best that the west end or east London had to offer.
The re-brand and refurb to Bean & Hop did do away with the lovely deli selection (although the top notch scotch eggs remain in the fridge) but has focussed the venue more on coffee and craft beer and has added some great things to the menu, like a wider breakfast menu and Friday night pizza. The coffee from the beginning has been brewed with Nude Espresso beans (another east London roastery) and their flat whites are just great. Strong but mellow, with a lovely chocolatey flavour enhanced by creamy steamed milk, these are flat whites as they should be.
|Bean & Hop Nude Espresso flat white|
While we drank our delicious coffees, we listened to Florence & the Machine on their well curated playlist and stared at an enticing wall full of craft beer, including excellent local breweries like By the Horns & Sambrook – something to come back for later in the day…
Update: read part two of the review.