13 January 2022

The Caffeine Chronicles: The Gentlemen Baristas, Piccadilly

The original Gentlemen Baristas has been one of my favourite coffee shops in my neighbourhood — Bermondsey and Borough — for over seven years. While spending a lot more time closer to home over the past few years, I've been stopping by more often, usually to get a piccolo to go. If you like your coffee shops to combine cosiness with dapperness, this is the place to go.

The GBs have expanded since then, with their Park Street shop next to Borough Market, being another of my favourites among their ten locations. The cafes are cousins rather than sisters, some retaining a more rustic style, while others, like their new flagship on Piccadilly, occupy rather grander digs. The Piccadilly cafe opened in September 2021 and I popped in for a 'Winterlude' visit in late December.

The facade and entranceway of 162 Piccadilly are particularly impressive, though you'll probably need to cross the road to properly appreciate the building's architecture. But you can do that after you've had coffee — or brunch if you're there before 3 pm. There are a couple of tables outside on the canopy round on St James's Street, which were occupied even on the gloomiest, chilliest of Wednesday afternoons.

Luckily, it was much warmer and cheerier inside. The first thing you'll notice is the long wooden counter, accented in GBs blue (AKA navy blue), where the friendly baristas will brew you up an espresso-based coffee or a pourover, or one of the 'not coffee' drinks (including teas, juices and 'fashion lattes'). 

There are a few bar stools at the front window and at the far end of the counter, but most of the seating is opposite the counter. At the very back, there's a particular cosy nook with comfy armchairs, while the other tables are arranged around red leather banquettes. Perhaps as a shout-out to the original GBs coffee shop, one wall is exposed brick, displaying various artworks for sale. You don't have to look too hard to find some of the Gents' signature dapper hats, either (even Santa appeared to have been in town).

It wasn't brunch o'clock during my visit (though if you haven't tried the GBs' brunch, you should; the current Veganaury menu also sounds great) but it was very much half-past coffee. As such, I ordered both a piccolo and a pourover and then took a seat at one of the banquettes. Despite the weather — or perhaps because of it — it was really busy, with the baristas deftly managing the constant stream of customers.

The piccolo was nice, brewed with the Deerstalker espresso, a blend of Colombian and Brazilian coffees. But it was the Propeller pourover that really impressed me: the juicy, tropical fruit notes of the natural Ethiopian coffee came through beautifully. And yes, their coffees are all named after hats!

If you need to stock up on beans and/or coffee-brewing kit, there are two well-stocked shelving units, one by the entrance and one at the back, beyond the counter. I had been struggling to track down white size 1 V60 papers and luckily, the GBs were able to help me out. The cheerful and knowledgeable staff always make visiting Gentlemen Baristas coffee shops a pleasure and I walked back out onto Piccadilly in much better spirits.

The Gentlemen Baristas. 162 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EF (Tube: Green Park). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

For 150+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, you can also check out my London speciality coffee guide.

No comments:

Post a Comment