Notes Covent Garden
London's history is vast, complex, and at times turbulent, and Covent Garden is no exception. As I have learned a bit from Vic Gatrell's "The First Bohemians" (highly recommend), the name originally referred to the area of gardens around Westminster Abbey, but later became the square in front of St. Paul's parish--not to be confused with the much larger St. Paul's Cathedral. From the 17th century the market took shape and for a time was the most popular area for artists and prostitutes. Today, the structure is around 180 years old and is host to restaurants, cafes, pubs, and retail stores. Not to mention the numerous street performers--such as the ones that you are waiting for them to do something for so long that your attention has been captured by how long they have been keeping your attention for.
But the real gem of Covent Garden, for my tastes, lay in a street over. I discovered Notes because they are bean suppliers for many a cafe around London. Although Notes might not always pull a great espresso shot, other cafes owe their quality beans to the talents of the Notes roasting team. In my visits to Notes, I have been overwhelmed by the vastness of their menu; they have large wine selections, beer selections, salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffees, and the list goes on. However, this detracts nothing from their roasting. Their espresso at the moment is called Bokasso Espresso from Ethiopia and is supposed to hold sweet notes (NOTES) of vanilla and dried apricot, but also red berry acidity. Oh, red berries. How am I always supposed to taste you? In my most recent visit with my mother I was able to try her latte against my espresso and found the espresso to taste much sweeter and complement the milk, although I did not as much prefer my tiny cup of acidity (for shame!).
Recommend: Wander through Covent Garden and expect madness.
Note: Hey! A NOTE for NOTES! Notes has many locations! It is also at Trafalgar Square and there is even one in Leeds.
Price: $$-$$$ (food/wine is a tad more expensive)
Espresso Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Address: 36 Wellington St WC2E 7BD
Hours: Mon-Weds 8am-9pm; Thurs-Fri 8am-10pm; Sat 9am-10pm; Sun: 10am-6pm