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11 June 2018

The Caffeine Chronicles: Urban Baristas, Wapping

As the crow flies, Urban Baristas in Wapping is only 1 km from my home in Bermondsey, but without a handy boat to cross the Thames, the distance is somewhat longer on foot. The small coffee shop is located on Wapping's attractive and characterful High Street and I've come across it several times before — but usually when I'm part-way through a long run, spanning both sides of the river through east London. But when I found myself without plans on a sunny afternoon, I decided it was time to fill in the Wapping gap in my speciality coffee coverage.


Urban Baristas is located a block away from the river. It's actually directly opposite the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, but unfortunately, the Thames Tunnel — completed 175 years ago — is now only seldom accessible as part of a walking tour. Luckily, though, the coffee shop is right next to Wapping Overground station — a more convenient way of arriving in 2018.


The bright and airy café is attractively decorated with muted pastel-toned colours and a patterned white coffee bar. There are several tables inside, with a combination of wooden chairs and cushion-topped bench seating. You can also sit at the counter in the window or, on clement days, outside for better people-watching opportunities. It was fairly quiet when I arrived late in the afternoon but it's been standing-room occasionally when I've jogged by on weekend mornings in the past.



The house espresso is a Brazilian from Union, while the guest espresso during my visit was a Rwandan/Brazilian blend from Alchemy. They also listed five filter coffees available as a V60 pourover, from Union, Dark Arts, Climpson & Sons, Assembly and Small Batch — a very fine selection of UK roasters. I had already drunk a lot of filter coffee so I stuck to a cortado — a decision I didn't regret one bit as soon as I could smell the coffee after it had been ground. If matcha, turmeric, charcoal or velvet lattes are your thing (I had to look up the latter latte), Urban Baristas offers them all on the menu too, as well as almond, soy and oat milk.




They serve a selection of breakfast and lunch options too, including toasties and open-faced sourdough toasts. I was also amused to read the name of one of the smoothies — 'no sugar in my coffee' (NB: sugar is available on the tables to add to your coffee should you so wish). I had long since eaten lunch but was tempted by one of the chocolate and salted caramel doughnuts on the counter, which was tasty, if perhaps too filling on such a warm day. Note: Urban Baristas only accept card payments.




As for the cortado, it was prepared very well indeed. The pineapple and cherry notes of the Alchemy coffee came through nicely and it was a well-balanced and delicious drink. The latte art was impeccable too. At present, there are three other branches of Urban Baristas, including another one I regularly pass and must find time to visit — what may be London's narrowest coffee shop just opposite Waterloo Station on Waterloo Road. Another one for my coffee to-do list...


Urban Baristas. 138 Wapping High St, London, E1W 3PA (Wapping Overground). Website. TwitterInstagram.

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