20 October 2014

The Caffeine Chronicles: Saint Espresso

There's an angelic new coffee bar in N1. Saintly, one might even say. I read about Saint Espresso, which opened a few weeks ago on Pentonville Road near Angel Tube, in Caffeine Magazine when I was at The Gentlemen Baristas last week and promptly forgot its name but not its address. Luckily, it is only a ten-minute walk up the hill from my office, so I figured that even if I had imagined the whole thing, I wasn't going too far out of my way. More luckily still, Saint Espresso was indeed there at number 26 and it's a lovely find.

There are only a few tables inside Saint Espresso but it's relatively spacious and the café is beautifully designed: clean black lines, warm wood and copper accents. I particularly liked the sexy black La Marzocco Strada machine. Oh, and the black shelving on the wall that holds all the coffee and coffee-making kit that is for sale, including the most beautiful collection of copper V60s, Aeropresses and pouring kettle. Very stylish.

They also know their coffee and serve both V60 and Aeropress hand-brewed filter coffees (I think Chemex was also on the menu, but I didn't check). They were serving a Guatemalan coffee from Alchemy, which the barista said was better suited to V60 brewing, so that is what I ordered. All of the hand-brewed coffees are £3.50, which is a little pricey, but I'd much rather pay that much for a good-quality hand-filter than the £2 you often pay for a mediocre macchiato.

In addition to the coffee, Saint Espresso has a few cakes and pastries on offer. The toasties looked nice but one contained mushrooms and the other Brie, so I stuck to a banana muffin, which was really good: very moist and with banana chips on top.

Meanwhile, I took a seat and waited for my coffee, which was light and fruity. I could taste the raspberry and chocolate notes although, admittedly, not the cashew. In any case, it had the clean, slightly sharp taste I was hoping for, and I was a happy customer.

It was pleasantly bustling inside, although the baristas still made time to talk to me about the merits of hand-grinders. I hope Saint Espresso does well — although it's about a two-minute walk from Angel Tube, it is slightly tucked away. There are enough local businesses on that stretch of Pentonville Road to provide a decent supply of customers, though, and coffee connoisseurs from King's Cross and Clerkenwell will, no doubt, discovery Saint Espresso before too long. Hey, my walk up the hill even burned off a few of the muffin calories!

Saint Espresso. Angel House, 26 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9HJ (Tube: Angel). Website. Twitter.

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