Searching for a good spot for coffee that you want to sit and enjoy can be tough, especially at lunch time. Every seat is prime real estate for everyone looking for just a short while of peace or socialising – especially if you’re in London. Cafés are everywhere you look, but really exceptional ones? They’re slightly fewer and further between than your run of the mill mass coffee troughs.
Today has been a wet, miserable and chaotic day, and whilst I had to be in Central London, I didn’t really fancy the typical knees smashed so close together the bone is splitting type of crammed in seating that most Central London offerings deliver at lunch time. Not that I’m knocking it, I understand business is business, but sometimes it leaves a little wanting for more.
I headed to Workshop Coffee in Fitzrovia, positioned right behind Oxford Circus on Mortimer Street. Whilst I’m incredibly familiar with their Marylebone branch, I had never stumbled across this one. It was quite literally an oasis of peace and quiet from the loud city chaos a mere 20 metres outside.
Feeling it was a filter kind of day, I asked the barista what today’s selection was, and without telling me, he simply offered me a sample cup and described what I was having; which, unfortunately, I wasn’t really in mood for, despite it being massively enjoyable and tasty. Without me asking, he suggested that if I wanted something different, he would happily talk me through the other beans they have on offer.
I usually like something quite sweet in flavours, with a complex taste, so he recommended me their ‘Rodolfo Garcia’ – a honey process Guatemalan, and before I could say another word, let alone pay, I was told to take a seat and he’d bring it over shortly. For anyone who knows what many London baristas can be like, you will know how surprising this service was for me. The furthest possible thing from a burly barista judging you for whatever it is you’ve ordered, or not knowing every complex detail of the coffee making process.
Making my way round to the seating area, despite being a completely different style, the overall feel of the building reminded me of their Marylebone branch. Small tables, long seating, yet cosy in a very minimalistic way. The sort of environment that encourages relaxation and conversation, without the need to shove in massive armchairs that leave you at the tip of a slumber that’ll retire you for the day.
After the short wait, the barista arrived with my coffee. At first I was little confused, as the beaker with my filter came served with what I thought was a plastic cup, which threw me slightly. However, I soon worked out (after giving it a flick with my finger and having to research what it was) that was actually a customised semi-translucent cup made from tempered glass. NOTE: if you ever want to make yourself look stupid in a café, look at a glass bewildered and flick it with your finger whilst people look. It really does the trick.
The coffee itself was incredible. There was a great sweetness to it, which, as time went on and the flavours developed, grew even stronger and more profound. I was told to expect hints of sweet apricot, and that most certainly came through on taste – and I don’t have anything close to an expert palate.
The food on offer is fantastic, as with all Workshop cafés. Perfect pastry accompaniments to your coffee, all of which are freshly prepared throughout the day. Despite this being ‘Caffeine Trail’, Workshop has something great for you if you dislike coffee, but happen to be either tagging along with your caffeinated friends, or looking for a great place to go. The mint tea is incredible – easily one of the best I’ve ever had and well worth a visit for.
After spending the best part of an hour getting lost in my notepad and being in the busy yet quiet and relaxing surrounds, it was time for me to settle up and head back out into the rain and cold. As I headed out, the baristas were more than happy having a chat and a laugh with the customers, and it was great to hear and see. When so many cafés in the same area are full of speedy in-out service, it’s amazing to be able to find somewhere so welcoming.
Workshop Coffee – 80A Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 7FE