Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.
Coffee House: Monmouth Coffee Company
Address: 2 Park Street, Borough, London, SE1 9AB
Rating: Toby’s Equivalent (Sydney-Coffee Rating System)
Website | Map
The first time I visited Borough Market I found a little coffee stall hiding next to the greengrocer with the fungi. The coffee stall was labelled “Monmouth Coffee Company” and had an alluring selection of roasts. My eyes were drawn to the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, one of my favourite singles from Toby’s back-home. I decided to risk a coffee and ventured so far as to ask for a ristretto. To my surprise I wasn’t asked to repeat myself or auto-corrected to espresso. My ristretto came almost as short as a Toby’s ristretto. It was good.
I was at Borough Market again today but the coffee stall wasn’t there! Damn! However all was not lost, we noticed that there was a large Monmouth Coffee café outside the market on the corner of Park and Stoney streets. Having not seen this premises last time I was in the area I assumed it must be new, everything looked shiny and clean, but according to their website its been there since 2001. Maybe they were renovating? The hole-in-the-wall stand I had found before had a small sideboard and a handful of stools. This time I found sideboards and stools galore as well as a central, communal table spread with help-yourself (and pay at the counter) breads and jams. Good atmosphere, great ristretto, and loads of customers.
Kathlene and I both went ristretto doppio, served without query or correction just like the first time. It may seem that I make rather a big fuss about the whole ristretto thing. It comes down to this: a place with good coffee will attract coffee lovers who will order ristretto, if the staff understand what you’re after when you ask for one it is a good sign. An interesting “proof by failure” case is Costa’s coffee chain. Costa’s actually has ristretto on their menu but almost 100% of the time the staff will need to be pointed to the menu before they’ll believe this (right above their very heads) and then need to be told what it is.
Essentially Monmouth has the roast/grind/machine/barista profile close enough to my version of “right” that their everyday coffee is, so far, the best I have had in the UK. It is a close call between Monmouth and The Coffee Plant on Portobello Road. I think that it is down to the roast, Monmouth’s coffee has an earthier hint that I find preferable to the strong tang of the coffee at The Coffee Plant.
According to their website, Monmouth has been doing it’s thing since 1978 at their site in Covent Garden. I have yet to visit that location but I must in the near future since they have a “sampling room”. The only drawback of the Borough Market shop was that they only offered their house blend for espresso (oh how I miss Toby’s “single origin of the day”). I would have loved to try their Yirgacheffe roast, unfortunately I’m not equipped to make coffee at home.
If you love your coffee and you’re in London you must visit a Monmouth café, especially if you prefer coffee that hasn’t been destroyed with milk.