31 August 2022

The Caffeine Chronicles: Host Café

There are a whole host of excellent speciality coffee shops in the City of London these days but somehow it's taken me a decade to visit Host Cafe, which opened up inside the Church of St Mary Aldermary in 2012. In my defence, it's closed at weekends and I'm blessed with very few free weekdays in London. And when there's been a church on the site for over 900 years, what's another few months?

The main entrance is on Watling Street — a road that's more ancient still, once forming the south-western border of the Danelaw (as Dave Jameson would be very pleased to tell you) — but you can also enter via Queen Victoria Street. 

The Gothic-style church is beautiful inside with high ceilings and impressive plastered vaulting. The cafe is located near the entrances: the coffee bar is set up next to the pulpit, with various sets of tables and chairs clustered nearby, with bench-style seating as well as sofas. There are also seating options in the courtyard outside. Or you can take a pew, of course.

The coffee is from Mission Coffee Works, a roaster based a few miles north-east in Clapton. They serve single-origin V60 pourovers as well as the usual espresso-based drinks and also sell a few bags of retail beans. I opted for a piccolo, which was brewed with the Bells espresso blend, appropriately enough, given the location. Bells blends coffees from Brazil and Colombia, and there was a milk chocolatey sweetness in my piccolo, which was very well brewed. They serve a decaf espresso too — both hoppers looked great with their stained-glass-window backdrop.

I'd already eaten lunch and so didn't have room for one of the tempting-looking focaccia toasties on offer on the counter. But I did manage a vegan peanut butter blondie, which was delicious. And if you're in the market for something colder to drink, they serve various iced coffees, smoothies and espresso tonic too.

As you might expect, Host Cafe is also an incredibly relaxing place to enjoy your coffee. Outside, it was a hot and hectic Friday lunchtime in the City, but Host remained cool and peaceful although most of the tables were occupied. And if visiting Host gives you a taste for visiting speciality coffee shops inside churches, you may like to check out The Wren, which is just down Queen Victoria Street. Sadly, it's going to take another weekday off in London before I can stop by!

Host Café. Church of St Mary Aldermary, 69 Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BW (Tube: Mansion House). Website. Instagram.

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

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