Store Street Espresso
Only a short walk from University College London in Bloomsbury, Store Street Espresso was my first specialty coffee shop to try in London. It was also my first indication that London was clearly on the map in terms of specialty coffee. Store Street itself is very quaint with a handful of shops and restaurants off of the chaos of Tottenham Court Road. Store Street Espresso carries a rotation of Square Mile Coffee, which seemed to be a typically consistently good coffee among the many London coffee shops. The outdoor seating can be perfect for a sunny day, as well as the naturally-lit back area. Although the seating is limited, and can be pretty hard to find during the busy lunch hours, it is a good spot to study with free WiFi (the WiFi is turned off from 12-3pm to discourage people from camping out and hogging tables). On my first visit to Store Street, I tried Square Mile's Ethiopian Kochere Yirgacheffe, and was underwhelmed by the slight berry tastes and overwhelmed with acidity. On later returns, I tried the seasonal Red Brick espresso also by Square Mile, which is a blend of Colombian, Ethiopian, and Brazilian and at times the different guest espressos that are on rotation. Store Street Espresso was a good start to the coffee scene and I returned out of convenience, but I was never blown away by their espresso extractions. The espressos seemed either too acidic or bitter in flavor, but my coffee adventures through London were just beginning.
Recommend: The restaurants and shops on Store Street are all worth a visit.
Note: Store Street is close to SOAS and UCL, so it is a good stop for students, but reminder that the WiFi is turned off during the lunch rush hour.
Price: $$ (almost every espresso that I encountered in London ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds, so be prepared to pay up regardless of where you go)
Vibe: Sunlit and student-filled
Espresso Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-7:00pm; Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 9am-5pm
Website: (for Store Street) http://www.storestreetbloomsbury.co.uk/shop-eat/ss-espresso/
Address: 40 Store Street, London, WC1E 7DB