So, we have told you what we think of the big chain coffee shops and now we want to tell you about those weird and wonderful, sometime awful and mostly small, independent ones, that we’ve visited over time.
Him: I don’t know how we stumbled upon The Candid Arts Cafe, it’s up about ten flights of stair through a half decaying old house on the top floor, through doors, past toilets and past strange doors and then you find a long eclectic space, where they sell lots of cakes, coffees and sandwiches, but for all that it is rather pricey and the portions are rather on the small side.
Her: I like that it’s like a communal living room and the random and odd decor that looks like people have brought in, some of the paintings are ‘interesting’ too! I’ve had cappuccino and mocha in here and both are kind of cold. The salads and sandwiches are ok, that’s to say they sounds nice on the hand written boards, but are nothing special to taste. But they do have gluten free and vegan options which is always a bonus. But it is seriously over priced, but the atmosphere is always interesting.
Him: Piacha is a tea shop so it shouldn’t really in this review but it is quite nice so we are adding it. It’s a nice space, with little seating areas and a selection of black, red and green teas worth exploring.
Her: It’s like tea heaven, if you fancy green there are about 50 types, or white, red even black. Oolong, Earl Grey, Red Bush, literally every type of tea you could dream of and combinations there of. Plus the take away cups are reaaaaly cool and reusable, also I like when you go in and the person at the counter can help work out what tea would suit you best, dependent on what flavors you like and will even let you sample before you order.
Him: The Euphorium Bakery isn’t as small and independent as it used to be, but it’s still not as big as the chains so it’s here. I’m not a fan of the cafe/ coffee shop as I used to be of the restaurant that used to be at the top of Upper St. Like so many of these little places it’s just bland and filled with wannabes trying to read Dostoyevsky while sipping at bitter espressos, because that makes them look too trendy.
Her: I quite like it, it’s not brilliant, but it’s not bad. The coffee is pretty good, so much so that I’d return.
Him: Appestat is a fairly new little place in Camden Passage that we tried a few weeks back (it’s so new it isn’t on google street view). It’s a wooden floor boards and random, odd furniture type place, with exhibitions on the walls, but with fun and quirky staff (if a little snooty) and really nice Mochas and Hot Chocolates – if a little small-.
Her: The staff weren’t particularly that friendly, but I’ve had a Hot Chocolate and a Mocha from there and both were quite nice and are made from dark chocolate syrup rather than the standard milk chocolate powder. I shall return.
Him: The window of the Maison d’être is always steamed up when you go past and it’s usually packed out, again I wonder why because the coffees are so small you would be advised to take a magnifying glass to see what they have served you.
Her: It’s a really small shop, with small garden and really small cups, only half filled with non-descript froth. I don’t think I noticed more than that, supposedly it’s fancy and organic, but usually that’s as good a reason not to go.
Him: Oh here we go again, another coffee shop trying too hard to be something. It’s one of those places that sells ‘All Organic’ and tiny cups of Pumpkin Soup for £5. The coffee came in tiny little cardboard cups and was way too expensive.
Her: Food Lab looked ok from outside, but as soon as you walk in, it’s another of ‘those places’ chalk board menus and trendy’s in fake glasses and everything made from Kale – including the coffee!
Him: 52A has been a newsagents, a bike shop and a florists since I’ve known it, now it’s a narrow little coffee shop that has more appeal than most, it sells a wider variety of teas and coffees (including turkish and african coffee), as well as cakes and deserts. The interior is small, long and narrow and can get busy with loud turkish women shouting down their phones. But all in all it’s quite fun.
Her: Honestly I didn’t even really know this place existed being so small and all.They have a variety of Tea’s (tea pigs) and a few different coffees and cakes. It is a nice little place, with loud yelling women, as you do!
Him: Welcome to Nanna’s home of lots and lots of babies and children in pajamas, wellies and layers and layers of pure wool (to which I’m allergic) Mothers with three wheel strollers, who think they own the place and everyone else should get out of their way! Strange coffee in very small cups all of which is cold and don’t ask for the Chilli Hot Chocolate it’s vile! If you do however, make sure that you don’t ask for it hot as they take that to mean spicy not heat wise, trust me I should know.
Her: The first thing that you notice going in to Nanna’s is the strong strong smell of kale. Then the screaming children start to wail and cry and then the mothers walk around the shop for hours… The smoothies looked interesting if you like super food smoothies that is. The coffees were expensive for the small cup you were given. Its great for trendy hipster mums but thats about it.
Him: Paul’s is possibly a chain and should have maybe been better in the last review, but we didn’t so its here. This should be a wonderful place, quality food and what not, however its devoid of any atmosphere. The food is bland and boring and the coffee is dull. The staff don’t speak very much english and the decor is reminiscent of a 1980’s bakery.
Her: Welcome to fly central! SO so so many flies, that almost the whole time we were there we just spent swatting them. The coffee was just nothing and the food was also nothing. Yeah it was kind of crappy to be honest.
Him: 2&4 Is more of a furniture shop with a coffee machine but it’s an effective little place, with pleasant staff and a ton of G Plan furniture that reminds me of my Nan’s flat when I was a kid and they have a guard cat too!
Her: There’s a kitty, it’s cute and cuddly.
This is only the start of our review of these coffee shops and we will add more once we have a sufficient number to justify another post. In the meantime we hope these reviews are helpful. Stay tuned for more in the near future.