13 October 2014

The Caffeine Chronicles: The Gentlemen Baristas

A few minutes' walk from Borough High Street, a spiffy new coffee shop has just opened. The Gentlemen Baristas is run by a pair of unapologetically dapper young chaps, who offer espresso-based and hand-brewed coffees to the denizens of Borough.

I stopped by at the weekend, and even on a rainy Saturday afternoon, their racing-green shopfront adds a cheerful vibe to a quiet section of Union Street. Inside, the d├ęcor is all reclaimed wood and exposed brick. Not exactly breaking new ground for a hipster coffee shop, perhaps, but they have done a great job making it feel both cool and cosy. There are a couple of seats in the window and then several communal wooden tables in the back. If it had been a more clement day, I would have held out for the prime real estate in the window, but I was happy to nestle in the back with a copy of Caffeine Magazine.

Several of the new coffee shops in Bermondsey, including Hej and The Watch House, only serve espresso-based coffee, so it was great to see that The Gentlemen Baristas serve Chemex, Aeropress and V60. I ordered a Chemex (£3) and went to read Caffeine.

The Gentlemen Baristas is sited across the road from a former famous hat maker and all of their coffee blends are named for hats. The blend du jour for hand-brewed coffee was the Bowler — a blend of two Kenyan varieties, which worked really well in the Chemex. My coffee had a nice clean taste and a light fruity acidity, which was just what I wanted. As winter approaches, I tend to prefer richer, more chocolatey coffees, but it's barely even autumn yet. The espresso blends included the Top Hat and the Trilby.

I talked briefly with one of the friendly eponymous gentlemen on my way out, and he even indulged my snap-happiness by donning the top hat. Well, when in dandy central... Pay them a visit — your day will be all the more splendid for it.

The Gentlemen Baristas. 63 Union Street, London, SE1 1SG (Tube: Borough). Website. Twitter.

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