We will admit we’re obsessed with finding the perfect Americano. As regular readers know, in our glorious locale we (and several thousand of you) believe this is served at Arancini Brothers, with Bean About Town roaring in a very close second (well, they do share the same beans). However, we love trying a new place, and so this irregular column will be dedicated to unearthing the spots we’ve somehow missed. Or yet to discover. A corner place here, an unexpected delight there. So join in and give us your recommendations.
Which brings us to Houspresso, on our radar for a while. But something about the building’s soviet-style austerity put us off, despite it being just a short hop from the homestead. Silly us: inside, if not an oasis, is a pleasant mise-en-scene indeed: a wooden sharing table, piles of architecture magazines (the owner’s other occupation), framed photographs of Queen’s Crescent, a range of branded Houspresso postcards.
We didn’t try the food, although the pastries are from fashionable bakers Flour Power. There’s a good list of coffee, a dark Sicilian roasted Arabica and Robusta blend from expert roasters Miscela D’oro. And there’s a shiny vintage Gaggia espresso machine winking at you behind the counter.
So what of the dark stuff? Well, we’ve tried it three times now, and we think it’s workable without being outstanding. On our last visit, we were ultra-particular about the water-to-double-shot ratio (an Americano has to be strong, and not too hot) and whilst it was a Good Coffee, we were hoping for an Arancini moment – which, we will confess, has yet to happen. But you may beg to differ, so pray tell below. Oh, and you can’t help but love a place with a witticism-spouting blackboard outside, too.
Houspresso, 1a Mansfield Road (opposite Gospel Oak station)
Words & Pics: Stephen Emms
PS. We swung by Arancini earlier today for an Americano and a chat and the boys have Some Very Exciting News. Watch this space.