“There’s always time for coffee.” This is a motto I would love to live by. I told myself this on a gift-buying errand one afternoon. My intention was to pay a quick visit a boutique interiors shop that I had read about online. It should have been a quick and easy trip from where I work in London Bridge: take the Northern line to Angel, walk to the shop, buy a gift, then return the way I came. As I sat wishing that they would introduce air-conditioning on the Northern line within my lifetime, the motto popped into my head. Before I knew it, I had reached Angel and was searching for nearby coffee shops on my phone. I hung a left out of the station then a right at the traffic lights. It didn’t matter that I was heading in the opposite direction of the interior shop. I was shortly standing at the doorstep of Saint Espresso.
There weren’t many free seats available at this little coffee shop; the small couple tables on the side were all occupied so I parked myself on the bench at the 8-seater table by the window alongside a few people who were tapping away at their laptops.
There were quite a few cakes on display and I was initially torn between the brownie and the matcha cake. In the end l did what I always do when I’m faced with too much choice. I ordered a flat white then waited for the barista to ask “anything else?” then the words came to me. I blurted out “lemon and thyme cake, please”. I’m convinced that this right-on-the-moment decision making is what the heart really wants (go on, try it one time). Sadly, the lemon and thyme sponge was more than just a tad on the dry side and would crumble when I stuck my fork in it. I suspect that pre-slicing the loaf before order meant that it had gone stale. It could have been a great tasting cake otherwise; the lemon was sharp and the sweet icing was punctuated with a few specks of thyme offering an occasional burst of flavour.
Saint Espresso don’t have a regular coffee supplier. I love that they change their bean regularly so it means that you get to taste a great range of coffees. My flat white was delicious with nutty and chocolatey flavours. They’re not just coffee, they also have a good selection of specialty tea on offer too.
The industrial style interior was tastefully done – I loved the exposed brick wall and the “unfinished” paint job on the ceiling. An impressive looking lamp – tangled black pipes with multiple light bulbs – provided a soft, warm glow. Even the fire fighting equipment was stylish. I later found out that the interior was designed by Nina+co. The shelves were stacked full of Alchemy and Square Mile coffee beans, Aeropresses, books and other coffee paraphernalia.
As I snapped away at my food, the person next to me who had been tapping away at her laptop took interest in what I was doing (I think it was my snazzy retro-looking camera that caught her eye – the EM5 Mark II by the way). We got talking and I learned that she is a yoga instructor and we exchanged Instagram accounts. Later on as I was finishing my cake, a gentleman walks into the shop and commented on my nice camera. I was having a nice time engaging in small talk with strangers. It just goes to show that good things come from coffee. ∎
(Photography: Sarah Chu for Bubbobar)
26 Pentonville Rd
London N1 9HJ