Coffee Island in Covent Garden

Coffee Island in Greece and Cyprus is synonymous with Costa or tax dodging Starbucks or Caffe Nero, a ghastly corporate chain serving undrinkable coffee. I was therefore somewhat surprised to learn last week from a  Greek barista at Union Summer Carnival  that  not only had Coffee Island opened a coffee shop in Covent Garden but that they served good coffee.

I expressed my surprised. He agreed, in Greece, rubbish coffee, but that they were nearly all franchises, and the one in Covent Garden was different.

I had had a similar reaction when the editorial in Standart 5 praised Coffee Island.

I therefore decided to investigate.

A detour to Home Slice in Covent Garden for a  pizza, then to Coffee Island.

I passed by Monmouth Coffee, a queue outside. Why thought I, am I going to Coffee Island when I could stop at Monmouth Coffee, though it is overrated.

Therefore it was to Coffee Island with low expectations, but happy to be pleasantly surprised.

Through Seven Dials, down Monmouth Street, to Coffee Island, where it is the grotty end, almost Leicester Square.

In Covent Garden, why are all these little narrow streets not pedestrianised? If in Europe, the entire area would be pedestrianised, traffic free.

Walking through the door, it screamed corporate, no matter how hard they tried to pretend it was a speciality coffee shop.

Lots of impressive gear. In this I was reminded of Coffee Berry in Zorbas Bakery, lots of impressive gear, but clueless on coffee.

Not only very expensive espresso machine, but also several different brew methods. I would be very surprised if competent in use of all these different methods.

There was also a good selection of gear on sale. More than I have seen elsewhere.

The coffee was in tubes along the wall, or what they called silos, same style as Coffee Berry. Looks decorative but not good for the coffee.

The coffee included microlots, single origin.

And what was called flavoured coffee. Whatever that means.

No roast date,  and would be difficult to give a roast date, when poured in one end, and eventually comes out the other.

Roasted in Greece, delivered monthly.

Difficult to assess, without turning the knob and extracting the beans, but looked over-roasted.

It would have been far better to have had in coffee bags, pre-packed, 250 grams and 1 kg, with roast date.  Or maybe in wooden boxes as Monmouth, weighed and bagged.

On sale and on display Standart 7. Did they have Standart 8? No. It has been out for a couple of weeks. They had in a cupboard issue 6 but not issue 5, indicating not been open long.

Upstairs a mezzanine floor, with a good selection of coffee books in the corner, including The World Atlas of Coffee, and God in a Cup.

Scattered around copies of Caffeine.

On the counter expensive cakes, £3-20 for millionaires slice. Not made on store. Looked like factory cakes.

I was tempted to have  a cappuccino, but as one of the extremely rare places that serves freddo cappuccino, I decided on freddo cappuccino.

It was not served in plastic takeaway, but was served in a plastic reusable cup.

A classic example of how not to serve a freddo cappuccino, especially as it had an ugly plastic band around it saying Coffee island. The corperate brand more important than a well presented  freddo cappuccino said it all.

Staff pleasant and helpful.

A sign saying top ten speciality coffee shops in London. Really? Says who?

This is the Coffee Island flagship store, their only store in the UK, and it is not in the same league as quality coffee shops in London.

A reviewer on TripAdvisor wrote a damning review that not up to Coffee Island standards, that they expected all Coffee island coffee shops to be the same. Maybe they were being ironic.

Do we really need yet another corporate coffee chain muscling its way in? This is to go backwards to second wave coffee, when we should be moving forward to third wave. If we are to see new coffee shops, and more are opening all the time, we need to see third wave artisan speciality coffee shops, not as would likely to be, franchises of a corporate business.

 

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