17 June 2019

The Caffeine Chronicles: Nkora, Shoreditch

Over the past few months, I've made a few trips to Columbia Road Flower Market to replenish my small balcony garden and to buy several new plants for inside my flat (bonus tip: Pot Luck is my favourite shop for plant pots). The busy flower and plant market is very busy year round, but particularly on sunny Sundays in the spring and summer, when even just reaching the end of the stalls can feel like a real endurance test. To psych myself up, I like to go for coffee first at Nkora on Hackney Road, a five-minute walk away.

Nkora takes its name from a region in Rwanda — not a colloquial pronunciation of the Italian word ancora (still/yet), which was my first guess! — and there are now three locations: Shoreditch, Cambridge Heath and St Albans. So far, I've only visited the Shoreditch cafe, but have been a handful of times over the past year or so.

The coffee shop is located on a bustling section of the Hackney Road, just east of the northern end of Shoreditch High Street. The d├ęcor is rustic and minimalist, with a few pops of colour and works from local artists on the walls. Most of the main room is taken up with the large, slate-grey counter that matches the storefront. There are three seats at the slim table in front of the large window, several more small tables inside the shop and in the small courtyard at the rear, and a bench out on the pavement. On my two most recent visits, when I took some photographs, the sun streamed in through the windows, bathing the cafe in beautiful afternoon light.

Nkora serves coffee from a variety of roasters, but there's usually coffee from Union on offer. The menu includes standard espresso-based drinks and batch-brew filter coffee (as well as matcha, chai, tea and hot chocolate). When I visited in April, I sampled an impeccably brewed Guatemalan Xejuyu single-origin espresso roasted by Union served as a piccolo. It tasted great and I enjoyed sitting in the window seat watching the world go by.

On my most recent visit, a couple of weeks ago, I tried the filter coffee. It was a hot day and a lot of customers were ordering cold brew and iced lattes, but I found natural-processed coffee from Round Hill Roastery to be very refreshing indeed when served hot. I don't recall the origin, but the brew was bright, fruity and very jazzy. All too often, batch-brew filter coffee can be disappointing, but this was excellent.

I'd already had lunch, and so didn't have room to try the all-day breakfast menu or the sandwiches. I did, however, find room for a peanut butter brownie, which came topped with half of a Reese's peanut butter cup — just to make sure there was sufficient peanut butter. My sweet treat was delicious, and paired nicely with my coffee.

The baristas are friendly and knowledgeable and despite its busy location, I found Nkora a very relaxing place to sit and enjoy my coffee — and not just in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the flower market!

Nkora. 21 Hackney Road, London, E2 7NX (Shoreditch High Street or Hoxton Overground). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

For 100+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my speciality coffee guide.

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