I find myself nestled between Tottenham Court Road and Gower St, two of London’s busiest streets connecting the hustle and bustle of the city’s West End with the commuter car park that is Euston Rd. You would be forgiven for thinking I am actually going back to school, with one of London’s leading universities, UCL, taking up residence on these tree lined blocks.
On this crisp, spring morning I have something else on my mind. I crave somewhere to sit, to reflect and to watch the world go by while chugging a mug of the black stuff. An oasis of calm, which is perhaps the exact polar opposite of what this area would normally provide. For those of you reading this who know where I am, I am sorry (not sorry) for ruining the secret, but places like this are just too good not to share with the world.
Store St Espresso has been fuelling the next generation of London’s cognoscenti since October 2010. Sitting pretty amongst a shady parade of shops on Store St in London, the pared back layout, whitewashed walls and beautiful poured concrete bar are well lit thanks to a beautiful atrium towards the middle of the shop. Walls are adorned with artwork by an ever rotating canvas of artists, the sounds of clicking keyboards and student chit chat fill the room, and the unmistakeable smell of freshly brewed coffee lingers, as after all this is first and foremost a speciality coffee shop.
Upon entering, you are greeted by a very tasty looking cabinet of baked treats, persuading you to start the day right. Once your eyes glance past, it is the mercenary of machinery which lets you know these guys mean serious business. Twin Mythos One grinders are feeding a 3 group Gravimetric Black Eagle, currently with a special single origin espresso called San Sebastian from Colombia as part of our Source / Roast / Brew program. An EK43 and Marco Bru consistently deliver litres of filter coffee every day, which just happened to be the Rainha Natural – tasting ever so sweet and creamy.
Jack and Roger have created a special place with Store St Espresso, but they have never felt the need to shout about it, instead just putting their heads down and focusing on running a business. This isn’t a shop which screams “I am here” or tweets their extraction of the day, but don’t be fooled into thinking they don’t take coffee seriously, the baristas work in a very precise and consistent manner in order to serve you a damn tasty coffee.
Fast forward just over 3 years and the opportunity to sink their teeth into another project arose. Affectionately named Continental Stores after the shop front signage from a previous tenant, Store St Espresso’s second site can be found on Tavistock St, a leisurely 10 minute walk from the original. The thing that captures me immediately are what I think are the best seats in the house, cosy and welcoming window bench seats which are a beautiful sun trap and let you watch the world go by.
If you’re unlucky and miss out on these seats, there is no need to fret as there is also a perfectly formed wood panelled room at the back of the cafe, with space to hide away from the world. As expected, your coffee is in good hands and for those of you who have had enough for one day, the tea menu from London’s Postcard Teas is well worth a run through. One of the big differences between the two shops is the brunch menu available here, with a fully prepped kitchen downstairs putting out some tasty looking plates.
If you’re visiting with a group of friends, your best bet is to order everything on the menu and share it between yourselves. If, like me you are visiting by yourself and looking for something fresh and filling, you can’t go past the roasted squash and ricotta, stacked on sourdough toast with a poached egg and greens sauce – delicious!
We should all thank our lucky stars that Jack and Roger didn’t want to get real jobs in the areas they studied, instead choosing to follow a love for coffee and great spaces in which to enjoy it.
Store St Espresso
40 Store St, London WC1E 7DB
Store St Espresso @ Continental Stores
54 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RG