25 September 2023

The Caffeine Chronicles: Colonna & Small's, Leather Lane

Colonna & Small's has long been one of my favourite speciality coffee shops in the UK and I stop by every time I visit Bath for a coffee and to stock up on beans. I was thrilled to hear that Maxwell and Lesley Colonna-Dashwood were opening a second coffee shop a little closer to (my home). It finally opened on Leather Lane in Clerkenwell earlier this month and — spoiler alert — it's just as wonderful as the Bath original!

The new Colonna & Small's opened its doors a couple of weeks ago but as they've now extended their hours to Saturdays, I was able to pay a visit at the weekend. When I used to work in King's Cross, I spent a lot of lunch breaks on Leather Lane, which runs from Clerkenwell Road down to Holborn. I could just about get down to Prufrock or Daddy Donkey and back on my lunch hour! Colonna & Small's is located at the northern end, just south of Clerkenwell Road and a short walk from Farringdon station. There are a lot of shops and eateries on Leather Lane so look out for the small shopfront tastefully decorated in Colonna's signature blue.

Inside, there's a long counter featuring the espresso bar and brew bar on the right-hand side and tall shelves featuring retail bags of Colonna coffee on the left. "You look like you're perfectly coordinated with our colour scheme," one of the baristas noted on seeing my blue jacket. I then proceeded to pull all of the other, even better coordinated, turquoise and blue items out of my bag. It's always nice to feel like you fit in and all of the baristas were super friendly and made me feel very welcome.

Just like at the Bath coffee shop, there's a chalkboard on the wall outlining the daily filter coffee and espresso choices. There were three of each and I decided to go with the barista's recommendation to try the washed Benedicto Cotrina coffee from Peru as a filter coffee and as a split shot espresso and piccolo.

After ordering, I walked through the exposed-brick arch to the beautiful seating area at the back of the cafĂ© and took a seat at one of the tables. Long, comfortable benches — also kitted out in Colonna's teal colours — run along each side of the room, while colourful posters featuring some of Colonna's previous coffee specials adorn the walls.

My washed Peruvian three ways was pretty special too. Colonna & Small's is very good on all of the small but thoughtful details and the coffees came beautifully presented in white ceramic vessels of varying shapes and sizes. The tasting notes for the Benedicto Cotrina suggested a taste that was perhaps more characteristic of a Kenyan coffee than a Peruvian and it was indeed incredibly juicy, especially the filter coffee. The espresso and the piccolo both had a pleasing sweetness that gave the flavours a different dimension. All three were immaculately brewed.

There are menus on each table and I noticed that they also serve coffees from their previous limited edition ranges. These are individually dosed, vacuum sealed and frozen and are then ground straight from frozen when an order is placed. The list includes some really special coffees so I am definitely planning to try some of them on future visits.

Just like at the Bath original, the coffee at the Colonna & Small's is really excellent and the staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and welcoming — whether you're a coffee newbie or a full-on coffee geek. It's well worth a visit even if you aren't usually in the Clerkenwell/Farringdon area.

Colonna & Small's. 96a Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7TX (Tube: Farringdon). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Read this post for more about the original Colonna & Small's and my other Bath speciality coffee recommendations.

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

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