Pancras Square is a buzzy little public space with plenty of seating, trees and water features located in the gap between King's Cross and St Pancras stations. There are several good restaurants there now (including the excellent Granger & Co) and Notes, with its all-day casual charm fits right in. There are a few tables outside, a couple more on the ground floor of the café and more still on the loft-like mezzanine. The design is classic indie coffee shop: plenty of wood, black metal, exposed brick and quirky light fixtures.
The coffee is roasted at the Notes roastery, just up the road at the Tileyard location (which seems no longer to be open to the public). They serve all the usual espresso-based drinks, but there is also a special summer drinks menu, including various iced coffees and the 18-hour cold brew that I had my eye on. If you don't have to go back to the office — or, depending on where you work, even if you do — there are various craft beers and an excellent wine list.
I ordered a cold brew (£3.50), a piccolo (£2.60) and a blondie and went to take a seat near the sleek black twin La Marzoccos that sit proudly on the counter. While I waited for my coffee, I dug into the blondie, which was very good, and just about the right size for a post-lunch treat. If you haven't already eaten, there is a selection of nice-looking sandwiches and salads in the fridge.
The coffee arrived and I soon realised why the £8 bill had been so cheap: a batch-brew filter coffee had been dispatched instead of the cold brew. Eek! Luckily, they quickly swapped the long drink for a bottle of the Kenyan Kamwangi Ab cold brew. Yesterday was a pretty warm day and I was grateful for the refreshing cold brew, which was complex and fruity but none of the bitterness you sometimes get with rushed and otherwise poorly created cold brews. I almost bought a second bottle to keep in the office fridge but the coffee in our office is so bad, I didn't think it would last long.
I've had Notes piccolos and macchiatos many times before, but this one was particularly good: its creamy smoothness contrasted nicely with the sharper acidity of the cold brew. I was obviously tired because even after my fourth coffee of the day, I wasn't exactly bouncing off the walls, my colleagues were probably relieved to observe.
If you have time to kill at King's Cross or St Pancras and are in need of caffeination or a nice place to chill, do not be put off by the many chain coffee shops inside the stations: venture outside and grab a seat at Notes. You won't regret it. And if you really like them, you might like to consider crowd-funding their next location.
Notes King's Cross. 1 Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG (Tube: King's Cross); other locations here. Website. Twitter.