As part of my 'Caffeine Chronicles...Revisited' series, where I return to some of the first speciality coffee shops I visited in London, I dropped by Milkbar a few weeks ago. Milkbar is Flat White's little sister and it's located a few blocks further east in Bateman Street, which connects Frith and Greek Streets in the heart of Soho — and, indeed, in the heart of Soho's coffee scene (I noticed this as early as 2008, while the aforementioned Soho coffee scene was very much a work in progress).
Although Milkbar has a similar monochrome décor as Flat White, it is usually a little less hectic than its Berwick Street sibling, especially if you on a hot summer's day where many might prefer to be out in the sunshine. I'm happy to step into the shade, though, if it means I get a good coffee. At Milkbar, there are a dozen or so small tables inside and a bench outside in case you want to take advantage of the previously mentioned clement weather. As well as the monochrome menu board and sleek black La Marzocco, pops of red, white and blue brighten up the café's petite but well-proportioned interior.
I happened to arrive at a quiet moment on an otherwise busy Saturday, which meant that I was able to persuade the barista to prepare me a pourover, which they had initially said they weren't serving. This was lucky as I'd already had my milk allowance for the day (one piccolo's worth). They had some batch-brew filter coffee on offer too but my preference for the subtler flavour notes that are drawn out with a good hand-brewed filter coffee intensifies on a warm day, even if I do feel like a terrible human being for turning up my nose at the prospect of bulk-brew.
Like Flat White, Milkbar uses coffee from Swedish roaster Drop Coffee, and I tried a very fruity Ethiopian coffee in my pourover (£4). The barista did a great job and it was a very well brewed coffee. My recent experiences at Flat White and Milkbar have encouraged me to add Drop Coffee to my list for my upcoming visit to Stockholm.
There's plenty of good grub at Milkbar too — I had already brunched before this visit, but they make a mean avocado toast and they also do great scrambled eggs and bagels. Oh yes, and the cakes aren't bad either!
After my coffee, I chatted with one of the friendly baristas about the changing coffee scenes in London, Brussels and Paris and then stepped back out into the sunshine. Milkbar hasn't changed very much since my first visit in 2008 but as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Milkbar. 3 Bateman Street, London, W1D 4AG (Tube: Tottenham Court Road). Website. Twitter. Instagram.