This week's instalment of my 'Caffeine Chronicles...Revisited' series shifts a few blocks north from Soho to Fitrzovia for an updated review of Great Titchfield Street's Kaffeine. I first visited Kaffeine back in 2009 when it was a relative spring chicken; now, it has just celebrated its seventh birthday and has a second location, just around the corner on Eastcastle Street. Unlike some of my other 'old favourite' cafés, I've always been a regular customer at Kaffeine over the years, not least because of its proximity to one of my favourite London restaurants, the Riding House Café. I never got round to writing a full review, however, so I went back yesterday with my camera.
Kaffeine's Great Titchfield café is small and sleek. There are a few seats in the window, a handful of tall tables that run the length of the monochrome coffee bar, and several more tables in the wood-panelled section at the back. I've always loved Kaffeine's logo, with its playful font, and the illuminated version on the back wall adds a cheery pop of yellow to the décor.
The menu includes the usual espresso-based drinks, cascara (coffee cherry tea) and a coffee tasting flight, along with various teas and soft drinks. There are no hand-brewed filter options, but they are serving cold brew at the moment; I tried it a few weeks ago and thought it was fruity and refreshing. I had planned to order my usual piccolo but was seduced by the coffee flight (£6). This included the same coffee (Square Mile's Red Brick) served as an espresso and as a flat white; unusually, it also came with a palate-cleansing cascara shot.
The espresso was expertly prepared and the coffee's fruity, nutty smoothness came through very nicely. The flat white, I found out later, was only a single shot and was, as such, a little too milky for my taste and I think I would have enjoyed it more as a piccolo, which would have allowed the coffee's subtler notes to shine through more strongly. That said, it was still a very well prepared drink and milk:coffee ratio is very much a matter of personal taste. The cascara was served cold and it did make a good refreshing palate cleanser. I'm not a big tea drinker so I probably wouldn't order cascara on its own, but it makes a nice addition to some cocktails!
As it was such a hot day, I didn't feel like a big lunch and luckily, as well as a few sandwiches and plenty of tempting sweet treats (I'm a particular fan of the blondies), Kaffeine always serves a varied selection of salads. I ordered the smaller size (£5.50) of the stone fruit salad with mozzarella, tomato and granola; it was absolutely delicious and with hindsight, I should have opted for the larger serving (£7).
I don't think I've ever been to Kaffeine when it has been quiet. You can usually nab a table if you are prepared to wait or share, but the café's long, thin shape means that it fills up quite quickly. The Eastcastle Street branch was thus much needed, although, with apologies to Cyril Northcote Parkinson, queues do tend to expand to fill the great speciality coffee shops available. Both Kaffeines are only a few minutes' walk from Oxford Circus but are havens of cool serving top-quality coffee that feel a world away from the crowds of Oxford Street.
Kaffeine. 66 Great Titchfield Street, London, W1W 7QJ (Tube: Oxford Circus). Website. Twitter. Instagram.