Like most metropolitan cities, London is not without its share of niche coffee purveyors. The growing reach of Starbucks’ global domination naturally opened the gateway for purists to create safe havens for those who real want a handcrafted cup of coffee. Since I am more of a tea drinker, here’s my redux of local cups by typography.
Monmouth: Transitional Serif, Times Alternative
Monmouth is a house that supplies a lot of its beans to discerning restaurants and connoisseur customers. With over thirty years of coffee pedigree, the collective at Monmouth purports to “taste a coffee that we like, we want to know where it comes from and who grows, picks and processes it.” The minimalist feel with a limited menu, and its firm drip approach to brewing makes this a leader in the city. They romance each bean in their current Italian roasters “we find that the Petroncinis help us retain the fruit and bright acidity of our medium roasts and develop the body and sweetness in our dark roasts.”
The tasting notes are like its menu which is clean fresh, and organized. You will find nothing, but good coffee here.
Monmouth’s coffee font reflects the timeless and classicism that Trajan is known for—Trajan is an old style serif typeface designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly for Adobe. The design is based on the letterforms of capitalis monumentalis or Roman square capitals, as used for the inscription at the base of Trajan’s Column from which the typeface takes its name. While the font may or may not be an ode to the Petrocinici that roasts their beans and, like strength of the Romans, this font instills a classic firm stability that is found in each drop of Monmouth coffee.
Monmouth Coffee 27 Monmouth Street
London WC2H 9EU
Flat White: Courier Slab Serif
Flat White is a throwback coffee with a sense of Aussie humor; vintage camera prints line the café wall while their head barista caresses each cup with perfect foam leaves each time. Flat White gets its namesake from the artisan technique it serves:
“A flat white is a coffee beverage originating from Australia. It is prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk from the bottom of a pitcher) over a single or double shot of espresso. It is similar to the latte and the café au lait.” or rather as they describe on their site: “a damn good strong coffee.”
Flat White serves two blends of espresso and single origins. Detailed in its blend and this coffee steps up as it is quite strong but very smooth.
Like the origins of the first typewriter to be commercially successful produced by agreement with E. Remington and Sons as the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer, Flat White knows how to take a good thing and make it better. Similarly, like the QWERTY keyboard layout, slowly adopted by other typewriter manufacturers, Flat White’s signature microfoam is found now on several coffee maker’s menus.
Flat White Cafe 17 Berwick Street
London W1F 0PT
Nordic Bakery: Helvetica
Scandinavian through and through, Nordic bakery features a never ending offering of pastries amongst minimal Scandinavian designs. With your hand filtered cup you can try some Nordic staples like pickled herring sandwiches and Tosca cake. The filtered cup options are ground to order for freshness.
Helvetica is among the most widely used sans-serif typefaces and recognizable fonts. The aim of the Helvetica design (developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei) was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage. According to YWFT “taken from Max Miedinger’s same original drawings, URW’s Nimbus Sans was digitized in the early 80s from ultra-high quality analog artwork, utilizing the best technical process in the world.” The beauty of this neutrality is what you get in the Nordic Bakery where their coffee can take center stage in clean crisp and modern form.
Sensory Lab: Geometric Sans-Serif
Sensory Lab is an offshoot from its Aussie mum, St. Ali, and began as a venture for the London location with British entrepreneur James Dickson--who saw a need in the burgeoning bespoke coffee market in city. It has since broken its ties from its original roots for a complete rebrand now under the Workshop Coffee Co. label. But according to Dickson ‘nothing will change’ when comes to delivering a great brew.
What you get from Sensory Lab, is a technically brewed cup that follows four methods of brewing: espresso, syphon, pour over and cold drip. Just like the DIN 1451 font, from which the Neuzeit Grotesk takes origin, Sensory Lab coffee does optimize automatic coffee recognition, or rather character recognition. The technical aspects of their brew are simple and methodical much like DIN-Schriften variants found in their logo.
Workshop Coffee (formerly Sensory Lab) 75 Wigmore St.
London W1U 1QD
Photos: PLATFORM et cie. & Font Waterfalls via Myfont