19 September 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: Stir Coffee, Brixton

Finding myself — unusually — with plans in Clapham on Saturday, I took the opportunity to visit a new-to-me coffee shop on the way. The Black Lab, on Clapham Common's Southside, would have been the closest coffee bar but I've already been a couple of times (it's great), so I had to look a little further afield. In the end, I decided to go to Stir Coffee on Brixton Hill, which has been on my list for a while.

When I'm in Brixton, I tend to hang out in and around Brixton Market; Stir Coffee is about a half-mile south of there and the Tube. On Saturday, I had already eaten lunch closer to home at the Bermondsey Street Festival, and although Stir serves food, I was hoping to miss the brunch/lunch rush. It was still pretty busy when I arrived, with a queue soon forming behind me. Inside, it's a cosy, rustic space with bar stools at the windows, a few tables in the front and on the pavement, and more seating in the back room. The exterior suggests that the site may once have been a pub.

As there were both V60 and Aeropress (£4) options on the menu, I asked what was on offer at the brew bar, but was persuaded to try the batch-brew filter coffee (£2.40), a Kenyan Mchana AA coffee from Round Hill Roastery, which had been selling extremely well. I also ordered a piccolo (£2.40) and, from the selection of nice-looking cakes on the counter, I plumped for a brownie (£2.90).

I nabbed one of the stools by the window and before long, the piccolo and the brownie arrived. Learning from previous mistakes, I saved the latter until after I'd tried both coffees to avoid overriding my palate with its rich, chocolatey, salted-caramel deliciousness (yes, it was great!).

The piccolo was excellent too. I didn't check which of the Round Hill coffees was in the hopper, but the flavours of the espresso were very well-balanced, making for a smooth taste that paired well with my sweet treat. It was well-prepared too, the latte art prevailing right down to the bottom.

The filter coffee arrived soon afterwards and given its rave reviews, I was slightly underwhelmed as to me, it was a little on the weak side, making it hard to pull out the blackcurrant notes I might have expected. A new batch had just been brewed and I suspect I was just unlucky. I thought about trying the coffee as a V60 as well, but ran out of time.

As I said, though, the piccolo was excellent and I otherwise really enjoyed my time at Stir. It was bustling and lively on a Saturday afternoon and the service was really good — well worth the short walk from central Brixton.

Stir Coffee. 111 Brixton Hill, Brixton, London, SW2 1AA (Tube: Brixton). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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