Espresso Joe and Kaffeine
This post was first published in NZ News UK 17 February, 2011
It’s the best of the ANZAC spirit: two nations joining together to do battle on foreign soil. Aussie and Kiwi: mates forever.
Before I get all Dulce et decorum est on you, the battleground is Great Titchfield Street, not far from the Oxford Circus tube station in London and the war is that eternal struggle of finding good coffee. Kaffeine is winning the war.
In fact, it’s doing more than winning the war. It’s winning prizes for doing so. Last November, it picked up the Allegra Strategies Best Independent Coffee Shop in Europe at the Rome Coffee Symposium. (Runner-up was Monmouth.)
The Kiwi connection is a silent partner, which must make Australian Peter Dore-Smith the garrulous one. Peter also employs a largely Antipodean staff for the café. The baristas all have a minimum three years of working behind commercial coffee machines.
Kaffeine uses a Synesso machine for making espresso and brews with Square Mile coffee beans. The coffees are good, with a robust flavor and very well crafted milk. I’ve made three or four visits to Kaffeine and never had a dud coffee.
On my previous visit, Kaffeine were on the last day of fundraising for the Queensland flooding disaster. Chocolate and strawberry lamingtons were on sale and they were phenomenal. I’ve had a lamington or two around London in the past year and usually they are dry, stodgy slabs of car seat foam. Kaffeine’s were a joy. Light, moist and very edible, I split one of each flavor with a friend. Sadly, the lamingtons have sold out but I can also testify to the greatness of Kaffeine’s fruit salad.
The premises are a little odd. The counter area is standard but the seating, all unfinished pine boxes, reminds me of a Swedish sauna sans humidity. This isn’t a gripe. Heaven forbid that every café should be a clone of the one next door. The staff are friendly and courteous and provide excellent service.
My only possible gripe with Kaffeine is that it’s almost always impossible to find a seat without waiting for five minutes; great news for Kaffeine but mildly annoying for us coffee lovers not wanting a take-out.
Kaffeine: really good coffee with excellent food and (when available) out of this world lamingtons.
66 Great Titchfield Street. London W1W 7QJ
Nearest Tube Station: Oxford Circus and a three minute walk north-east