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6 June 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: H.R. Higgins (Coffee-Man)

Much as I love spending time in third-wave coffee shops, it turns out the visiting a third-generation coffee purveyor can be just as enjoyable. H.R. Higgins, a Mayfair-based coffee roastery that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, has been on my list for a few years, but despite its central location, I never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.


Some things have changed since the titular Harold R. Higgins opened up shop in 1942, of course, and the downstairs cafe acquired a sleek new pourover bar two years ago. And yet when I visited H.R. Higgins on a sunny Saturday last month, the coffee shop won me over with its sense of tradition and old school charm, its friendly, knowledgeable staff, and, of course, its excellent coffee.



Located on Duke Street, just a block south of the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, H.R. Higgins occupies a grand red-brick building; you can spot the shop from its black awning and the bicycle parked outside. You can buy beans from the varied selection available on the ground floor. There is plenty of copper and brass equipment (and I don't mean rose gold...), including the lovely traditional scales, which remind me of the ones I used when I helped my mum to bake when I was younger.



I had a full stock of coffee beans at home, so I proceeded down to the basement cafe, which offers a sleek and classy respite from the busy West End with its monochrome decor, accented with colourful posies of flowers on each table. There are a dozen or so small tables downstairs and it was completely full during my visit, which was nice to see. I nabbed the last remaining table and then went to the brew bar to order.


There were three coffees available brewed through the (copper) V60 while I was there: a Brazilian Bourbon, an Indian Gems of Araku and the Santiago blend (which combines coffees from Costa Rica and Colombia). I don't get to try Indian coffee very often, but when I do, I've often been disappointed, so I decided to stick with the Brazilian, which was £3 as a filter coffee. There are also espresso-based coffee drinks and teas available, and the new summer menu also includes espresso tonic, cold brew, iced coffee and affogatos. There is also a tempting selection of cakes and pastries, but I had just eaten a rather big brunch, so I stuck to coffee.




Hario's copper V60 drippers always add a note of panache to any brew bar — I have one at home, but I rarely use it because of its two-cup size. My coffee was brewed expertly and had a chocolatey, full-bodied taste. Despite the warm temperatures outside, it was very enjoyable to drink it while relaxing in the cafe, and it's good to know that there is an excellent coffee spot that opens at the weekends in Mayfair. Do try to stop by next time you're in that part of town.


H.R. Higgins. 79 Duke Street, London, W1K 5AS (Tube: Bond Street). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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