The Espresso Room
I feel like this would be a good place to talk a bit about the London coffee scene. Like most other major Western cities, the coffee culture has grown exponentially, with a slow(er) increase in the quality of coffee. However, I still could not believe the sheer volume of fantastic coffee that I could find around London after arriving across the pond. I must admit, my research was made much easier by the London Coffee phone app, which conveniently reviews coffee shops and even notes the types of beans, machine, grinder, and brew methods available at each cafe. And I'm not going to lie--this is exactly what I wanted to do for Princesspresso (*cough* lack of funding). Therefore, unlike every other city I have been to which involved talking to baristas to find the next good coffee locations, I could find them conveniently rated and reviewed and mapped out on my phone. What I discovered all over London fared far better than my options in L.A. Although some places did certainly end up losing focus like the L.A. coffee shops on aesthetics or food or pretty things, the espresso quality was overall better. Even the proliferation of Café Nero’s and Pret-A-Manger espressos fared better than your average Starbucks, although there are plenty of those here as well. If you have enough time on your hands (and enough money--always a problem in London), it is well worth discovering the multitude of coffee shops throughout London's different neighborhoods.
The Espresso Room was one of those coffee shops that I most likely would not have discovered had I not had this coffee app (similarly with Mother's Milk), unless recommended to me by another knowledgable coffee person. It is located across from the Great Ormond Street Hospital, a place I probably would never had walked near aside for its existence. As its name suggests, it is simply a room. On a sunnier day than I first visited, I was able to sit outside on their minimalistic benches. Apparently, the owner was inspired in decorating the whole place from his love of Donald Judd, the minimalist sculptor (preach!). As for their espresso, the Espresso Room serves their own roast or a guest variation and every time from my visit, the espresso has been great. This place knows the true meaning of a ristretto, as my single shot came in a tiny glass cup with perfect crema. I think the sheer size of that drink, priced probably around 2 pounds, is one of the reasons people are mystified by why I love espresso (but that's beside the point). The guest espressos have been in constant rotation, such as with Hope and Glory, Roundhill Coffee, and more typically, Square Mile. The cafe also features different foods in rotation, such as donuts or different sandwiches from bakeries. This place overall is like the RyanAir of espresso, if RyanAir were actually really amazing at flying--due to both of them being no-frill. No-frill, more fun.
Recommend: Don't take anything to-go although the seating is limited--just sit and enjoy your espresso. And then visit Gagosian Gallery on Britannia Street nearby or the British Library!
Note: Closed on the weekends.
Vibe: Minimalist, Donald Judd
Espresso Rating: 9/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
Address: 31-35 Great Ormond Street WC1N 3HZ London, UK
Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-5pm; Sat-Sun Closed
Website: http://www.theespressoroom.com/ (very helpful for brew methods and information about their training and events are all on this website!)