Is it just about the coffee to you?
Because if it is, it would be nigh impossible to find a sweeter spot in London.
I present to you, Prufrock Leather Lane.
This place ticks practically every box.
It’s the largest outpost of 2009 world barista champion Gwilym Davies caffeinated empire (the other is tucked inside a mens clothes store called Present on Shoreditch High Street. The Hungry One loves to go there for take away coffee. Not so much for the clothes. Sadly in East London they don’t make a lot of shirts that fit the shoulders of ex rugby players).
Here in Leather Lane there’s much less of a chance you’ll spill a flat white on a white shirt for sale.
In fact, here there’s space to burn.
It feels like a cross between a design studio and a workshop. There’s plenty of natural light streaming in from the market street outside and the room is punctuated by fire engine red pillars, artfully weathered cabinets, the day’s newspapers and some serious coffee equipment. There are small round tables flanking the side wall and wide white shell like circular chairs to curl up in (unlike the shirts in East London, these are chairs The Hungry One fits happily in).
There’s a soundtrack of cheerful staff, classical music and people tapping at ipads, taking advantage of free wifi.
We turn up on a Saturday morning, drenched. The sky has been chucking cats, dogs and all sorts of small barnyard animals since we got off tube.
It’s only when we scurry in that we realise we forgot to go to the ATM – and at this stage they don’t take cards. As we scrape around in our pockets for spare coins a friendly voice calls out from behind the counter; ‘don’t go back out there. It’s foul. You can just pay next week when you come in’
I guess they realise that once we’ve tried one of their coffees, we’ll be back.
It’s a fair bet. There’s a level of care and artistry here that I haven’t seen anywhere else in London. There’s plenty of other paraphernalia for siphon and drip coffees, but it’s the espressos that have us smitten. Here they’re making them on a Nuova Simonelli 2010 World Barista Championship machine. They’re stunning. The lattes and flat whites are silky smooth with a good dose of perky grunt.
And here’s where I return to my first point. If it was just about the coffee, this would be my new favourite place in London.
And now we come to things to eat. There are plenty of rustic loaf cakes on display for around £2 a slice. Orange and poppyseed is a particular winner.
There are soft pretzels, pastries and cold quiches. There are even loaves of bread for sale. But there’s nary a toaster or pot of jam in sight.
For me, a favourite place is not just about the coffee. It’s about the atmosphere. It’s about the level of charm that emanates from the staff. It’s about the little touches like free wifi, pleasant music, toilets on site and the day’s newspapers.
If that’s all that counted- then yes, this place still ticks all the right boxes.
Except for one thing. Some mornings, you just need some egg, or avocado, or even some slivers of ham and cheese on toasted bread. Cake is not breakfast.
A lifetime of going out for weekend breakfast in Australia has ruined me.
If Prufrock got anything in that realm up and running, even if it was just a toaster and some tapenades, I think you know where you’d find me every Saturday morning. Tucked in the corner, quietly reading the paper, as happy as a clam.
Because despite the fact that it doesn’t have any on the menu, this is a bloody good egg of a place.
Prufrock Leather Lane
23-25 Leather Lane,
London EC1N 7TE
Nearest Tube Station: Farringdon
Hours: Mon-Fri: 08:00 – 17:00
Sat: 10:00 – 16:00.