18 March 2014

The Caffeine Chronicles: FreeState Coffee

UPDATE: FreeState Coffee has now permanently closed.

In the 2010s, it's refreshing to see an independent coffee shop bucking the trend and taking over the premises of a former Pret A Manger, especially in a neighbourhood like Holborn, but that's just what FreeState Coffee did. FreeState is located on a grand block of Southampton Row, just north of Holborn station, which means that every time I have taken the 168 bus to work, I have been reminded that I still haven't managed to try out the coffee.

Sunday was beautifully sunny in London and so I took my camera for a walk from Bermondsey, over London Bridge and through the City to FreeState, which is lovely and light inside, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. The furniture looks like it comes from Lassco: characterful wooden tables and chairs and old theatre or cinema seats.

As well as the usual espresso drinks, the staff will whip you up a V60 pourover from the special brew bar. They also sell drippers, Aeropresses and Siphons, which is always a good sign.

I ordered a medium V60 brew and took a seat at one of the tables while it dripped. The coffee in question was a Rwandan Gisuma, which was fresh, clean and slightly fruity. Just the pick-me-up I needed after a late night celebrating my friend's 30th on Saturday night.

FreeState also serves a selection of sandwiches, pastries and sweet treats — including scones and jam — and it's a cool, chilled out place to hang out in a part of town that isn't exactly teeming with good coffee purveyors (although there are a few other options).

FreeState Coffee. 23 Southampton Row, London, WC1B 5HA (Tube: Holborn). Website. Twitter.

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