While I was on holiday, I got an email from The Nudge about The Black Penny, a new coffee shop in Covent Garden, which was offering lunch or a coffee for a penny to celebrate its soft launch. Sadly, I missed the soft launch, but I did stop by on Saturday afternoon to, er, spend a few pennies.
The cafe, with its chic, dark exterior and handful of tables on the pavement under the awning, seemed familiar, and I soon realised that The Black Penny is occupying the site where another coffee bar — Salt — used to be based. It was a sunny afternoon and all of the outdoor tables were occupied, so I took a seat in the window instead and decided what to order. The breakfast and brunch menu sounded pretty great, especially the crispy duck hash, but I had already brunched so I studied the sweet treats instead and picked out a raspberry and coconut brownie.
The coffee menu is quite extensive, but only lists one hand-brewed filter coffee option — siphon — but although I could see the siphon, it wasn't available. Instead, I ordered a flat white with almond milk (£3.30, I think). The coffee is from Ozone and there were a couple of varieties on offer. The barista made my drink using the Opus blend, which I've tried before and which I like a lot: it's chocolatey and nutty — even if you don't add almond milk!
Both the coffee and the brownie tasted great, and the window seats and pavement tables are great for people-watching as Covent Garden passes by. The cafe itself has an industrial-chic vibe with dark brushed-metal tables, exposed-brick walls and cool pendant light bulbs. Like the coffee shops of yore (which were known as 'penny universities' because for the princely sum of one penny, you could gain admission, a cup of coffee and access to a range of political and academic debates and discussions), The Black Penny hopes to be a place of discourse and debate as well as caffeination and they will, in due course, be hosting events, lectures and seminars in the basement Seminar Pit.
If the penny hasn't already dropped, I really like The Black Penny, and it makes a nice addition to the calmer end of Covent Garden.
The Black Penny. 34 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AA (Tube: Covent Garden or Holborn). Website. Twitter.