25 June 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Carbon Kopi

Midway through a long bike ride around west London, I found myself not in a dark forest, but in Hammersmith, which is where I was born. You can't go home again, according to Thomas Wolfe's novel of the same name, but in my case, I just don't return often enough, even if owning a bike makes the journey from Bermondsey easier. And knowing that there was an excellent coffee stop, in the form of Carbon Kopi, helped me stay on track as I meandered along the Thames-side cycle route.

Carbon Kopi, which opened its doors in October 2019, is the brainchild of Natalie and Chris, who had been looking for the perfect space to showcase Kiwi coffee culture in West London. It's been on my radar for some time; fellow coffee blogger Izzy, among others, provides regular reminders of what I've been missing out on. The name is great too, combining the element found in all living things with the Malay word for coffee.

Carbon Kopi occupies the corner site that had remained vacant after the closure of a family-run funeral parlour, although you wouldn't know it from the clean, modern interiors. It's nestled in a residential neighbourhood between Charing Cross Hospital and The Queen's Club, and the streets were quiet when I rode up one Sunday lunchtime.

The main room features an L-shaped counter with forest-green tiling, underneath a constellation of pendant lights. The dual-aspect room is bright thanks to the big windows on both sides. There are a couple of small tables next to the counter and stools by the raised tables that run along the windows. Opposite the far end of the counter, there's a small annexe with some more seating options, and if it's a nice day, you can enjoy your coffee al fresco, either at one of the tables out front or on the covered terrace at the back.

The sun was out, so I parked my folded Brompton on the terrace and went back in to order. Although I was hot from my bike ride, I resisted the urge to order an iced drink, sticking with my standard piccolo. I was a few days too early for the return of Carbon Kopi's brunch menu (which features pancakes, eggs and other brunch classics, with a twist), but they did have toasties, so I ordered a chicken pesto toastie.

The coffee is from Square Mile, and my piccolo was excellent and — as you'd expect — a proper piccolo size. It turned out, though, that I wasn't quite cool enough or caffeinated enough yet, so I ordered a cold brew. I don't always enjoy cold brew, usually preferring Japanese-style iced filter coffee, but Carbon Kopi's was very good. Brewed overnight with a single-origin Peruvian coffee, it retained the sweet and fruity flavours and was very refreshing. The toastie was very tasty too. Carbon Kopi is the kind of neighbourhood coffee shop all neighbourhoods need; I was (literally) in my element.

If you have a bigger bag than me, you can also stock up on coffee beans, coffee-making kit, chocolate and Kiwi snacks. They also have some great coffee from this month's guest roaster, Zurich-based and Japan-inspired Mame, so now is an excellent time to make a Carbon (Kopi) date.

Carbon Kopi. 11 Margravine Road, London, W6 8LS (Tube: Barons Court). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

For 140+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my London speciality coffee guide.

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