The tiny Flat White has a big reputation. It is one of the best known and most admired coffee shops in Britain.
I visited during a brief trip to London, popping in on a Friday morning. When I arrived, It wasn’t too busy, but it soon filled up.
I hear it’s harder to find a place to sit at peak times and I’m not suprised: it’s a small place, and very (very) popular.
Of course I had to have a “flat white”, a coffee with antipodean origins made famous in London by the cafe of the same name. It is defined on the website as “a strong shot of espresso served in a small cup with textured milk”. There is a helpful pronunciation guide: “Austral. flaat whyette, NZ. flet wyte”.
It was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful, rounded coffee and creamy, textured milk, perfectly presented. Up there with the best brews I’ve ever had.
The beans come from Square Mile, a highly regarded roastery run by the equally-highly-regarded James Hoffman (former World Barista Champion). It is a custom blend prepared solely for Flat White and its sister café MilkBar (see below). The Square Mile website is here: http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/.
Seating is by way of wooden benches and tables. Food is available, including pastries.
Service was a bit glum, but that may have been a one-off. Apart from that I found Flat White to have a friendly, convivial atmosphere, although I wouldn’t have felt entirely comfortable taking up valuable seating space for very long.
It’s a bit cramped, and in a less charming way than the Monmouth Covent Garden branch.
There has been a definite Flat-White-shaped hole in Cosy Coffee Shops, until now. Along with Monmouth and a few others, it is right at the top of the London coffee house chain, in terms of reputation.
For quality coffee, there is nowhere better. For comfort, I might head elsewhere. Still, it is a “must visit” for coffee drinkers and comes very highly recommended.
17 Berwick St
We visited on 17 April 2009.