Sunday, 14 March 2010

Prufrock Coffee - Shoreditch High St E1

For many years (although it has been about 18 months since I've been there) one of my favourite ways to start a Sunday was to get an egg and bacon roll from the courtyard stall in Ezra Street, behind the Columbia Road flower market.   I could wax lyrical as to how reviving these were to my often hideously hungover state - but I'm sure you get the idea.  Eating one of these messy, greasy, delicious breakfasts while contemplating the morning's wanderings and seeing the crazy all-nighters staggering in and out of the Royal Oak was a small, simple joy that was part of one of my London top 5 things to do - Columbia Road.  Then I noticed the coffee cart next door and smelled the roasted beans and hoped beyond  hope that the coffee was decent - and Deo Gratias, it was.  After having thought I had created the perfect Sunday morning, it had just got even better with the addition of a top notch flat white.  What I didn't know was that the coffee cart was run by Gwilym Davies, as it's only over the last 6 months or so that this guy's name has been on my radar - fellow blogger Tom is a big fan and I trust his recommendations, then Robert (the nicest comment-writer ever) also name-checked Gwilym and recently Time Out (often late to the party) told us where to find good coffee in London and awarded Gwilym No. 1 status.  As I have since discovered he was also UK and World Barista Champion in 2009 so obviously this fella knows what he's doing.  This weekend, as part of an (only partially successful - see below) East End coffee mission, we headed to Gwilym's latest venture, Prufrock Coffee (loving the T.S. Eliot reference) at uber-cool clothes shop, Present in Shoreditch High St. The first thing you notice is the beautiful machine (detail in the photo above) with the traditional pull down handle to make espresso. Watching Gwilym pour milk feels slightly voyeuristic, as if you are watching something private and passionate and boy can he pour.  We started with a flat white and the combo of Square Mile beans, the top quality machine and the expertly steamed and poured milk was sensational.
Gulping that down like the true caffeine-junkie that I am I quickly ordered a cortado as a follow-up.  Great to see cortado on the menu - Fernandez & Wells call it a stumpy, at Dose they call it a Gibraltar but after discovering this "shorter than a latte, longer than a macchiato" coffee in Spain it will always be a cortado to me.  It comes in a tiny take away cup and was poured like a mini flat white, with equal love put into the latte-art on top.  All in all this was coffee at its very best - lovingly made, on the best equipment, with the best ingredients, by people who are top of their game.  Even though E1 is a bit of a trek for me I will definitely be back and I will be checking out Gwilym's Whitecross St cart as well - particularly as I hear that the queues at Columbia Rd are crazy these days.  The only downer to my day was that I made my second attempt to visit Taste of Bitter Love in Hackney Road to find it once again closed.  A very nice Aussie chap was there and was really apologetic and did say they would be opening on Saturdays in a couple of weeks so perhaps I'll give them one more chance...


  1. That coffee looks sooooo good!

  2. I visited Prufrock recently too. Gwilym served me and poured the milk (the coffee was done by someone else), and he was absolutely lovely. But I was SO disappointed in my coffee, particularly after the Time Out review. Seems maybe I had bad luck. Have you tried Leila's (up the road on Calvert Ave?) I always like their coffee.

  3. Love love love Gwilym and his coffee carts. I wrote about them back in March of 2008, probably about six months after they'd set up on White X? (Maybe longer...I forget. The days tend to fly by these days.) RANDOMLY walked into that men's clothing store on Shoreditch High Street very shortly after it opened and I was like, "Wait! It's Gwilym and company!"

  4. Thanks for the comments guys - always good to hear from 2 of my favourite bloggers! Greedy Diva - I suppose even the mighty Gwilym has bad days and coffee by it's nature can vary cup to cup. Even my own personal coffee heroes Milk Bar can sometimes be a bit off (I can't believe I just said that - I need to buy at least 10 flat whites this week in penance...).

    Krista - after reading your blog this afternoon I am craving burgers!