Sharps DunneFrankowski (CLOSED)
This coffee shop has forever ruined me. Spoiled me. I am not the same.
I want to relate telling about this coffee shop experience with a book called Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (hear me out). In the book, Marco Polo describes the distant cities of the empire to Kublai Kahn. Throughout the book it becomes apparent that it is not simply cities that Marco Polo is describing, but one city created in its complex relationships to memory, desire, semiotics, and language. At one point towards the end of the book, Kublai Kahn is unsatisfied because Marco Polo has yet to describe his home city of Venice. To this, Marco Polo replies, “Memory’s images once they are fixed in words, are erased. Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it. Or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” Ridiculous as it sounds, I haven't wanted to write about this coffee shop for fear of losing it altogether.
I was originally hesitant to go to a coffee shop located in a barbershop simply because I thought that it would be strange for me to go to a barbershop for coffee as a girl (cough, Princesspresso). Now I am kicking myself that I went for months in London without this coffee shop in my life for a silly reason like this. The coffee shop wasn’t actually inside the barbershop anyways, but in front of it.
The first time I tried Sharps DunneFrankowski espresso, I was taken aback by the intensive flavors of blackberries (and not in the way of flavors that people claim to taste in coffee). The man who made this magical drink--a Kenyan coffee from Square Mile--goes by the name of Rob Dunne, the “Dunne” of DunneFrankowski. He also proceeded to tell me to take a seat instead of demanding my cash upfront like most coffee places, which I greatly appreciate as their system. The whole vibe of the place is the most friendly, laid-back, coffee-centric place. Luckily, the owner of Sharps takes care of the aesthetics and keeps the most knowledgeable baristas to run the coffee shop.
Upon my return a few days later, I had the place to myself and after I simply asked about the espresso coffee origin to this barista (Michael) he decided to educate me in coffee... for two hours. I have a confession to make: as many espressos as I have had in my life and as much as I can distinguish a good cup from a bad cup, I have not in the least educated about the origins of coffee. He proceeded to set up a cupping for me in which I compared the nuttiness of a Brazilian coffee to the tea-flavor lightness of an Ethiopian coffee. Two hours later and tweaked out of my mind, I realized I finally found a place that was willing to reach out willing customers in order to educate people about their coffee. And I am eternally grateful. Sitting in the coffee shop any other day of the week, I can tell that no matter the customer that walks through the door, the baristas will have some type of friendly conversation or talk about coffee. I have yet to find a more magical place than this one. I just wish I could pick it up and take it with me wherever I go.
Recommend: Everything. Go to this place if you want to be ruined (in the best sense possible). I even have a new appreciation for aeropress coffee.
Note: There's rotating food services that come through for lunch. Pork buns, flatbreads, whatever they're feeling and it's all fantastic.
Vibe: Coffee-centric with a hint of tattooed barbers
Espresso Rating: 10/10 (I've never given a perfect rating... boom)
Overall Rating: 10/10
Address: 9 Windmill Street W1T 2JF, London, UK
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12am-6pm