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Why are there so few coffee shops in SE1?

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Tuesday 14 May 2013 6.31pm
'Maybe we aren't as gentrified as we think?'

I think we are and perhaps that is the problem. We don't have the young, media friendly vibe of up North. What 'we' do have is architects and unfortunately they'd rather we learn to love the glass and steel aesthetic.
Tuesday 14 May 2013 9.35pm
Bel Ludovic wrote:
A look at the map on the London Coffee Guide website illustrates the sheer density of coffee-drinking options. I run one myself, in Hackney, and the amount of competition is staggering.... So why is Southwark, and SE1 in particular, missing out?

Good question! why do you - presumably a resident of SE1 - run a coffee shop in Hackney and not closer to home, where there is a real dearth of places? Have any plans to run one here? : )
Wednesday 15 May 2013 12.04am
Speaking as an Italian who really does enjoy (and indeed needs) a good espresso, I have to say that in over 25 years of living in London I have yet to find a place that serves a decent cup similar to what I am used in my home country.

This includes places like Bar Italia in Soho (back home they would be out of business in a week with what they serve).

Over there, the barista (person preparing the coffe) is a skilled professional, and making espresso (and its various derivatives like cappuccino etc.) is his life's work.

Here it appears to be a job given to anyone and it shows. One big issue, is that so many coffee houses over here are staffed by people who do not even know that espresso is supposed to be served in cups that are hot, so that the coffee doesn't get cold before you have finished drinking it.

What also doesn't help, is the quality of the water: way too hard here in London.

See here a professional barista at work in my home country.

The same situation applies to pizza, but that's another story...

PS: In italy we don't have ridiculous drinks such as 'frappaccino' and preposterous concoctions like 'double moka choka latte with cinnamon'.
Wednesday 15 May 2013 5.02am
There ARE god cafes in London serving excellent coffee but it seems that in SE1 we are stuck with the costabucks model with their ridiculous milkshake concoctions
Wednesday 15 May 2013 8.04am
But I'm atheist.

I accept you don't need the wood floor, peeling paint, my work on your walls aesthetic, but I prefer it. I choose very carefully where I drink coffee as the ambience is important to me. Not SE1 but Wild and Wood is a regular if I'm in the area, though I could do without the occasional canoodling love fest from the pair who I take to be the owners (them two sitting in the first pic). Mind you, I usually sit outside that one but still...
Wednesday 15 May 2013 8.23am
Oh Jules62 please don't overdo the 'it's so much better in Italy' thing. It's a tired old argument that I thought disappeared some years ago (it has from the Italians I know anyway). I agree there is a lot of crap coffee (and pizza) in London but there are numerous places that do it well now (admittedly not necessarily in SE1). I might also add that there are plenty of crap places to drink coffee (and eat) in Italy IMHO.
Wednesday 15 May 2013 10.53am
Monmouth, IMO still serve one of the best coffees in London, it's just a shame they only open on Saturdays til 12pm on Spa rd. There is also a stall at Rope Walk which serves pretty good coffee. [email protected] are OK and also Little Bread Pedlar on Abbey St but they only do drip coffee. Sorry to disappoint Jules62 but I have spent a fair bit of time in various parts of Italy and I've yet to have a better Espresso than is served at Monmouth, Flat white (in Soho) or Fernandez and Wells (also Soho).
Wednesday 15 May 2013 11.46am
I quite like Allpress in Shoreditch and always take a piccolo latte.
Wednesday 15 May 2013 1.43pm
I have to agree with Jules62... You can get bad coffee and bad pizzas in Italy, but when you get good ones, they're unrivalled. There is one pizzeria in Italy I have been going to for years at last once a year and although I have had good pizzas in London, it still doesn't match that high standard. I stopped drinking coffee a while ago, but whenever I get a craving, I think of the one my italian mother in law makes with her cuccumella...
Wednesday 15 May 2013 2.08pm
Much as I am loathe to disagree Edward, I do ;-)! I have a sneaky suspicion that psychology plays a large part in all this (not surprising given that's me job guvnor). Holiday spirit (or a longing for home/feeling at home etc) adds a great deal to the experience of food. That is also putting aside cultural differences and personal/ethnic taste (who is to say that the Italian way is 'the best' way to make coffee, it is after all all a matter of taste *throws hand grenade and plans retreat to safe distance*). Of course, in general you are on a safer wicket buying coffee and pizza in Italy than the UK but my point is that it is possible to match the very best Italy has to offer here and that the old cliche that 'it's not as good as ... enter country of choice ...' is rarely true in this globalised world that we live. My top tips for both coffee and pizza in London are:

Coffee (assuming you like it the Italian way ;-):
Monmouth (of course!)
Prufrock (Shoreditch)
Fernandez & Wells (Soho)

Pizza (ditto):
Donna Margherita (Battersea)
Franco Manca (Brixton, also Battersea)
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