31 July 2013

The Caffeine Chronicles: Tonic Coffee Review

A coffee collective might not be the exact opposite of a coffee chain, but it's getting that way. As such, when I found out that The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs had a new Soho sister, I was keen to check it out, even though its opening hours required me to go before work this morning. Next time I go for a pre-work coffee, I definitely need to build up my baseline caffeination by making myself an Aeropress to take with me.

Tonic Coffee Bar, Soho.

Anyway, the new arrival is called Tonic Coffee Bar, and is tucked away in a tiny space on Sherwood Street, near Piccadilly Circus and just around the corner from Mele e Pere. They have room for three stools in front of the stunningly stylish white La Marzocco, and a small selection of cakes and pastries is available, but it's not really a drink-in kinda place.

What a beaut.

What they do have room for is some excellent coffee. I had my usual double skinny macchiato, of which, in my hurry to caffeinate, I forgot to take an attractive photograph. Trust me, though, it tasted great: strong and very smooth. As it turned out that I had run out of ground coffee at the office, I probably should also have taken a big artisanal filter coffee to go, but l'espirit de l'escalier is a wonderful thing, and there is always next time.

The remains of my macchiato.

Tonic's design is also great: the green-tiled walls make me think 'New York Turkish bath circa 1968,' and I do mean that as a compliment. Meanwhile, the shelves are lined with custom-designed "invigorating" Tonic Coffee Bar bottles. Oh and you can even buy the accompanying Tonic trucker cap. Because of course.

Tens of green bottles.

It's great to have another place to get great coffee in Soho. It's not as though the area is particularly deprived of good independent espresso bars, but because it was the first London area whose coffee culture I really got to know, I've been going to places like Flat White and Fernandez and Wells for years, so a bit of variety is good. My only slight disappointment is that they don't switch over to a gin-dispensing speakeasy by night. Maybe later in the year?

Oh, and as for the Coffeesmiths Collective, it also comprises a few other coffee bars, including The Liberty of Norton Folgate, which I walk past every time I go to Shoreditch or Spitalfields and which I really must visit one of these days.

Tonic Coffee Bar. 15 Sherwood Street, London, W1F 7ED (Tube: Piccadilly Circus). Website. Twitter.

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