10 July 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: 80 Stone Coffee Roasters

UPDATE (AUG 2022): 80 Stone's Elephant & Castle location has now closed permanently.

The speciality coffee offerings in many of the neighbourhoods of the London Borough of Southwark have seen increased and diversified greatly in the five years since I moved; you can find my reviews of some favourites here. Until recently, though, it has proved tricky to find good coffee near Elephant & Castle. I've had some decent shots of Italian-style espresso at Mercato Metropolitano, but otherwise, the closest options were in Waterloo or Borough.

When I heard that the owners of Fulham café Chair & Coffee were opening a new coffee shop on St George's Circus, a short walk from Elephant, it was very welcome news indeed. And as my regular commute to work goes through St George's Circus, I was able to follow the progress, as 80 Stone Coffee gradually came into being. I've stopped by a few times since it opened last month and have had some very nice cups of coffee.

Although you might not think that a roundabout on a busy bus route would be a peaceful place to launch a coffee shop, the broad, leafy pavements of St George's Circus — and the bike lanes on the road — provide plenty of breathing room. 80 Stone is, in any case, on the southern side, which is a much quieter road. I've seen people sitting out on the sunny pair of pavement tables most mornings.

There are a handful of further tables inside the small, pretty cafe. I'm a sucker for nice tiling and 80 Stone has plenty — the baby blue tiles coordinate perfectly with the crockery, the awning and the retail bags of coffee.

And they roast those beans themselves under the 80 Stone Coffee Roasters name. There are some really lovely looking single-origin coffees available (I have my eye on the Kenyan AA Kigutha Estate), which I hope to be able to sample once I've got through my coffee bean backlog.

I've been trying their Heavy Bag espresso blend at the café, both as a piccolo (£2.20) and a (6 oz) flat white (£2.50). Well-balanced, smooth and chocolatey, the Heavy Blend works very nicely with milk as a shorter drink. The flat white I had last week was particularly well prepared. For now, there are no hand-brewed filter coffees available, although as they are small, new and often busy, I can completely understand why not.

80 Stone does have an impressive selection of food, though, including various topped sourdough toasts — you can pimp your avocado toast (which already comes with chilli, black sesame seeds and lime) with no fewer than four topping combinations, for example. Later in the day, there are some delicious-sounding burrata salads. If you're in the mood for a lighter bite, though, there are assorted pastries and cakes (I heartily endorse the banana bread), and breakfast muffins. I tried the egg and bacon English muffin (priced at a very reasonable £2.50) one day, and it made a great breakfast on the go.

80 Stone Coffee. 7a St George's Circus, London, SE1 6HS (Tube: Elephant & Castle). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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