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21 August 2012

The Caffeine Chronicles: West 80 Review

When exploring a new area or a new city, I often scout out potential places to eat or drink on the basis of the typography and design of the sign and menu. It almost always works, the idea being that I care about these things and I also care about good quality food and coffee, so people who care about design should also make great food and proper espresso. Occasionally, though, places don't live up to their typography. A good example of this is West 80 in Notting Hill. I've walked past a few times before and based on its cool sign, its cute interior design and its Manhattan-esque name, I added it to my list of places to check out.

80 West in Notting Hill

Yesterday, I did, but unfortunately, it was only OK. I could tell as soon as I got inside and saw that the menu was laminated and written in an uninspiring font that I may have misjudged West 80. It was starting to seem a lot more like a cute cafe than the cool espresso bar I imagined it to be, which is fine if you're happy to drink a mediocre mocha with your muffin, but not so good if you want a meticulous macchiato. My second mistake was to go for a double macchiato instead of a single--always a risky move in a place where the coffee quality is unknown. It didn't help that the cafe was sweltering on one of the hottest days of the year, but my coffee was scorched and tasted a little bitter. It is also one of those cafes where they make a double mac just by running more hot water through the portafilter.

A middling macchiato

As I say, the coffee was OK and perfectly adequate as an accompaniment to a meal rather than as a main event. West 80 definitely isn't going onto my all-time-best-coffee list, and not even on my best-coffee-in-west-London list. It is a lovely, airy, beautifully decorated cafe and the staff are very friendly. Just don't go there expecting a world-class coffee.

It's a nice cafe, though.

West 80. 80 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5RT (Tube: Bayswater).

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