SQUEEZED amidst the Scandinavian design stores and clothes boutiques of Fitzrovia is Kaffeine. An Australian/New Zealand owned sliver of a café pumping out over 500 expertly made coffees a day with a focus on fresh and fast sweets and savouries laid out artistically for the crowds that crush into the narrow shop.
This is not one for long, lounging brunches. This is one instead for the homesick Melbournians desperate for a proper cup with a coffee feather on top. A place where one can come and perch on wooden crates or crowd into tall tables, clutching a flat white, and for one moment be transported to the back alleys of Degraves Street — before rushing out, suitably caffeinated, to make room for the next body waiting patiently by the door.
Slim-fit, like the skinny ripped jeans of the pink-haired, tattooed efficient café staff, there’s almost no room for me to squeeze on the rainy day I visit. That is, until the helpful waitress finds a spot on the tall benches taken up with Prada shopping bags and politely asks the owner to make space.
Perhaps the customer didn’t get the memo that good coffee in London = big crowds because space is only made with great reluctance, much tutting and head shaking. Coffee is spilled, chaos reigns, and I get to enjoy my cup with a sweet serve of justice.
It’s not a traditional brunch — there’s no eggs benedict here. The focus is instead on beautifully arranged platters of seasonal salads, quiches and sandwiches served on proper baguette or focaccia bread, with a menu that changes weekly.
A nod to the Antipodean café culture comes with the freshly baked treats that you feel are justified after the plate of healthy mixed salad you just wolfed down. Anzac biscuits, muffins and Portuguese tarts line the display case, and, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the piece d’Australian resistance: ‘payday’ lamingtons.
Kaffeine was founded in 2009 by Melbournian Peter Dore-Smith, and New Zealand partner Hayden Smart. The motivation was to “create a space that was reflective of the styles of café and the café lifestyles in Australia and New Zealand”. It is a style that has served Kaffeine well, having being awarded a number of awards in the years that have followed.
Serious coffee for those who take their coffee seriously, and their need for space less seriously.
Kaffeine is taking pre-orders for lamingtons for Australia Day now.
66 Great Tichfield Street,
By Alex Ivett
To find out where to get your local caffeine hit see: Best Australian coffee shops in London.