09 January 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Formative Coffee

I was quick off the mark with my first London coffee shop visit of the year, on 2 January, although as Formative Coffee first opened its doors in Victoria almost a year ago, I wasn't as prompt as I would have liked. The small shop is a short walk from St James's Park Tube station (and St James's Park itself, for that matter), and is only open on weekdays and only until 5 pm, which is why I'd struggled to visit previously.

On the first working day of the year, I found Formative fairly quiet, although there were also bursts of customers seeking coffee to take away. From the outside, Formative is very sleek, located in a pleasingly curved flatiron-shaped building on the corner of the pedestrianised Butler Place. The curvature is echoed inside, with a large black coffee bar that occupies most of one wall. White tiling, black tables and olive green chairs complete the look.

The coffee menu is simple, offering just espresso, filter coffee, flat whites and lattes. And the coffee selection itself — currently from Danish roaster La Cabra — is displayed on two cards on the counter. You can choose between coffee A and coffee B, with several flavour notes for each listed below. The idea behind this is to keep the focus on the coffee and its flavours, although I cheated accidentally as I had already seen the two origins on Formative's Instagram earlier in the day.

I started with coffee B — a washed Ethiopian Mekuria Mergia coffee with notes of mango, orange blossom and papaya — as a filter coffee. There aren't any hand-brewed filter coffee option available, but luckily I arrived in time for a freshly brewed batch of coffee B, which came served in a beautiful Ã…oomi ceramic cup and which I very much enjoyed with a slice of toasted banana bread. There are a few other sweet treats on offer if you're in need of a nibble to accompany your coffee.

Requiring more caffeination before I braved the Regent Street sales, I also ordered a flat white. I usually prefer coffee drinks with less milk, but I'm also partial to a well-made flat white, which this was, smooth and sweet, with latte art that endured until the last sip. They also sell a colourful spectrum of La Cabra beans, as well as coffee-making equipment and Huskee Cups. Given its aesthetics, I feel my new Carter Everywhere mug would fit in well here.

Formative Coffee. 4 Butler Place, London, SW1H 0RH (Tube: St James's Park). Website. Twitter.  Instagram.

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

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