29 July 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: Curators Coffee Studio

The closely interconnected nature of London's evolving speciality coffee scene has been something of a theme on this blog lately. And while earlier this month I was at the original Kiss the Hippo — whose second location near Oxford Circus is based in the former Curators Coffee Gallery coffee shop — this week, I found myself returning to Curators Coffee Studio in the City of London. What a pleasure it is to be so spoiled for choice these days.

Before its closure, Curators Coffee Gallery, co-founded by Cath Seay, was one of my favourite and most visited London coffee shops, but although its City sister is closer to my home, I was only able to go rarely, as it only opens on weekdays, when I was at work in King's Cross. While I'm working from home, lunchtime visits to coffee shops in the City, like Curators Coffee Studio and Red Lion Coffee Co. are back on the cards.

It was on a recent trip to Red Lion that I spotted an A-board promising speciality coffee and pastries, and followed it through Leadenhall Market to Curators Coffee, which is located on the corner of Cullum Street and a passageway that cuts back to Lime Street and Leadenhall Market. The passageway is covered and is set up with several tables and benches — perfect for days like my most recent visit when the beautiful British summer weather was, well, rather less than beautiful.

Inside, the cafe is a verdant haven in a neighbourhood more associated with its shiny skyscrapers. Curators Coffee is a plant shop too — "we now sell unsuspecting plants you can buy and kill," the A-board told me (how did they know?!). It's small inside but there are a couple more seats at the bench in the front window, while the shelves on the side wall hold the aforementioned plants and coffee beans, coffee-brewing kit and artwork for sale.

The rustic counter is opposite the door and holds a La Marzocco whose colour matches the pendant lighting (possibly the other way round). The light blue colour also coordinates with the branding of SEND Coffee, the featured roaster. I wasn't familiar with SEND before my recent visits, but it's a social enterprise offering employment opportunities, training and mentoring in the UK coffee industry for people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities.

On my two recent visits, I tried two different SEND coffees: a Colombian Huila, brewed as a piccolo, and a Peruvian coffee as a batch-brew filter coffee. The piccolo had a toffee and chocolate sweetness to it, while the filter coffee (pictured above in the window seat in my Fellow Carter Everywhere mug) had incredibly fruity berry flavours. The drinks menu also includes chai, hot chocolate, mocha and tea, if you're not in the mood for coffee.

There is also an impressive selection of cakes and pastries lined up in the window. I asked the barista what they were, but the words "peanut butter blondie" are like pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del on my brain, and I wasn't able to listen to the rest. Needless to say, it was an excellent sweet treat and a very good accompaniment to my piccolo.

So next time you're in the City of London, don't forget to take a break from staring up at all of those skyscrapers and start paying attention to the A-boards — the ones that point you in the direction of Curators Coffee, at any rate.

Curators Coffee Studio. 9A Cullum Street, London, EC3M 7JJ (Tube: Monument or Bank). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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

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