12 April 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Black Swan Yard Coffee

Most of my Caffeine Chronicles reviews are about speciality coffee shops I've discovered recently. Not so with Black Swan Yard Coffee, which is one of the closest coffee shops to my home and one that I've visited even more frequently while working from home during lockdown. Somehow, though, writing about the Bermondsey coffee spot has always eluded me, even as it's changed and adapted over the months and years, so I thought it was high time for a post.

At present, Black Swan Yard is only accessible via a ground-level hatch in a handsome red-brick building at the top of buzzy Bermondsey Street. There used to be a a seating area inside the adjacent bike shop, but even in the before times, the hatch was the place to be. The photos in this post are from various visits over the past year, and although the A-boards featuring the titular black swan and one of their famous cardamom buns have been there for years, the hatch has gradually become more decorated. Physical distancing measures have also meant that there's an extra pedestrian lane next to the pavement, which is handy when there's a queue at the hatch.

The baristas are always friendly — owner Drew is often there himself, but I've enjoyed chatting with others too, crouching down towards the subterranean coffee bar. The coffee is from Margate-based roasters Curve Coffee, and is always excellent. I usually stop by for a piccolo or a flat white and the coffee is always well brewed and with great latte art. If you don't fancy an espresso-based drink, they usually have some batch-brew filter coffee going too. 

Most recently, I sampled Curve's Kenyan Thunguri AA, which had juicy, blackcurrant notes as a filter coffee. There is also a good selection of bread, pastries and baked goods from the excellent Little Bread Pedlar, which is based in Bermondsey too. I usually have a cinnamon or cardamom bun, but after a couple of recent early-morning appointments nearby, I also sampled the almond croissants. You can't really go wrong, though, if you're looking for a sweet treat. A couple of minutes south along Bermondsey Street is Tanner Street Park, which is a pleasant spot to enjoy your drink.

Like many small businesses, Black Swan Yard has looked for ways to adapt during the pandemic and also sells pouches of interesting-sounding cocktails to takeaway: coconut and pandan leaf old fashioned, anyone? How about a coffee bean and fig leaf negroni?

While working from home over the past year, I've enjoyed my lunchtime walks in my local neighbourhood. There are a bunch of other food shops, cafes and eateries that have remained open, to a greater or lesser extent, throughout the various lockdowns. At a time when it isn't really possible to plan grand adventures, one of my favourite small pleasures has been strolling down Bermondsey Street in the sunshine, Black Swan Yard coffee in my hand and locally produced food items in my tote bag.

Black Swan Yard Coffee. 37 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3XF  (Tube: London Bridge). Twitter. Instagram.

For 130+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my London speciality coffee guide.

7 April 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Good as Gold

I've been quite quiet on the blogging front of late, mainly because as you will have seen if you follow me on Twitter, I'm starting a new job in a new industry this week, and it's been a hectic few weeks handing over and signing off. But I had a few free days this week, which gave me time to visit Good as Gold, a new speciality coffee shop in beautiful Brockley, south-east London.

3 March 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Ozone Coffee Roasters, Emma Street

I've been frequenting Ozone Coffee Roasters' original London coffee shop, near the Old Street roundabout, since 2012, and the Kiwi roaster's second London cafe in Bethnal Green has been on my to-visit list for a while. On Friday, I took advantage of a sunny day off work to divert my daily walk via Ozone II; although London is currently locked down, the cafe is open for coffee and food to take away.

11 February 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: The Roasting Shed, Hackney Wick

After a cold, rainy January in London, 1 February was a gorgeous sunny day. For once, I'd picked a good day to take off work. Of course, with the UK in lockdown, my opportunities for fun were somewhat limited, but I did get back on my bike for the first time in a few weeks, and cycle to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Hackney Wick, a straightforward ride along Cycle Superhighway 2. I wasn't planning on making a coffee stop, but when I was about to head home, I happened upon The Roasting Shed's Hackney Bridge location. I knew the espresso bar was in the area but had managed not to add it to my Google Map.

26 January 2021

Lighting Up London Lockdown at Connected by Light, Canary Wharf

Although London is in lockdown for the foreseeable, we are at least still allowed to go out for exercise once per day and despite the cold, grey weather, I've been going for a walk, run or cycle ride every day. Well, as I'm still a fair-weather cyclist, I've mainly been walking and running, which does limit the places within a reasonable distance. Much as I love running west along the river from Tower Bridge, close to where I live, I have done the same loop about 150 times in the past year and so I've been looking for some other options.

13 January 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: District, Nine Elms

While the UK remains in lockdown, I have still been able to seize small moments of joy by getting a takeaway coffee while on my allotted daily exercise. Last week, my walk-of-the-day took me to Nine Elms where I was able to visit the closest of District's three Aussie-inspired cafes; the other two locations are in Parsons Green and Mayfair. Unsurprisingly, I've missed travelling a great deal over the past year, so it was nice to take the opportunity to visit a small piece of Australia rather closer to home.

8 January 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Frequency Coffee, Angel

The original Frequency Coffee has long been a favourite of mine, and its King's Cross location was convenient for my office. Of course, working from home last year — and for the foreseeable — has meant I haven't been able to visit owner Justo and his team as often as usual. But when I stopped by on a staycation day in November, I found out that Justo was soon going to be opening a second branch, on Camden Passage in Islington.