19 November 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Establishment Coffee

If I were still commuting into the office, Establishment Coffee on Saint Bride Street in the City of London, would be an ideal stop-off on my cycle route, along Cycleway 6. As I am, like many people, working from home for the foreseeable future, it took me a little longer to visit, but with several days of annual leave to spend in London earlier this month, I've now stopped by twice, once during London's second lockdown and once just before.

Located on a pedestrianised section of Saint Bride Street, just off Farringdon Street and near the junction with Fleet Street, Establishment occupies a small shop — it's more of a coffee bar than a sit-in cafe, even in normal times. But it's attractively decorated with muted grey walls, a handsome wooden counter and a few hanging plants. When I visited pre-lockdown, I was able to walk up to the espresso machine at the end of the counter to pick up my drink, but this was no longer possible on my second visit, and I placed and picked up my takeaway order from the front.

The first thing I noticed on both visits was the selection of food at the front, which includes some vegan options and most of which is baked in house. On my first visit, I had a beautifully caramelised cinnamon bun, while second time around, I was tempted by the homemade carrot cake, but I'd already eaten and I wasn't sure how well it would travel on my bike. There's a small selection of sandwiches too, if you're in the mood for something more substantial.

As for the coffee, mid-way through a very caffeinated post-US-election (though not yet post-US-election-results) day, I went for a cortado on my first visit. Brewed with a Press Coffee espresso, it was sweet and smooth and complemented the cinnamon bun very nicely.

Establishment also serves batch-brew filter coffee and will make a hand-brewed pourover using the Chemex. With more time to linger on my second visit, I ordered a Chemex brew, which featured an Ethiopian Shantawene coffee roasted by Netherlands-based Manhattan Coffee Roasters. Although Establishment was takeaway-only during my visit, there are several public benches in the pedestrianised area nearby, and I managed to get my coffee (served in my Huskee Cup) and my bike to a place to sit without incident. The coffee had really juicy berry notes, especially as it cooled. 

You can also buy beans — from Manhattan and from Origin — and there are also some rather lovely ceramics for sale. As you might expect, given its location in the City, Establishment is only open on weekdays, and as with any coffee shop you're planning to visit at the moment, it's worth checking their website and/or social media accounts to check the latest opening hours.

Establishment Coffee. 11 Saint Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AS (Tube: Blackfriars). Website. Instagram.

For 125+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my London speciality coffee guide.

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