What: This is the third outlet of the pioneering coffee shop (other branches are in Bloomsbury and Farringdon) whose roastery and barista training centre is at Aylesbury Prison. “Prisoners are 50% more likely to reoffend if they leave without skills or a job,” say founders Max Dubiel and Ted Rosner, who met at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland and have been friends ever since.
Approached by the Ministry of Justice to help address the state of reoffending, they now roast small-batch coffee and train graduates in competition-level barista skills. “The young offenders know their coffee,” says Max. “They try harder because they know, on the outside, they’ll have to be better than a barista without a record.”
Where: Lower Stable Street, the coolest bit of Coal Drops Yard, a slither of a pedestrianised thoroughfare with shops like vinyl-specialist Honest Jon’s, tiny craft beer bar House of Cans and US-style neighbourhood deli Bodega Rita’s.
The interior? Small but cosy with brick walls, bare woodwork, leaded (slightly prison-like) windows and a handful of simple tables and stools.
Why: This is as ethical as coffee gets – showing that the roasting process can be socially responsible too. The espresso (£2.40), served on our visit by tattooed, serious baristas, is smooth; while the soothing sencha green tea (£2.80) makes a fragrant brew to linger over.
Notes: We have been known to be tempted by the grilled cheese toasties (£5.50 – try the garlic butter and mushrooms or red Leicester, gruyere and pickles); or otherwise simply survey the counter stuffed with pastries, energy balls, cookies, brownies and the ilk.
Don’t: forget it’s always busy, like so many eateries in N1C. Even at 5pm a stream of peppermint tea-ordering Central St Martins’ students were pouring in just before closing time. And there’s a little store too, if you’re in need of any geeky new kit, with shelves of refillable cups, mugs and Aeropress devices.