We’ll be honest. The minute Doppio Cafe, in the cute building next to Pizza Express, opened its doors yesterday morning we were straight in there. Coffee is our thing, and we were curious to have a sniff, a poke around – and, of course, a taste.
It’s an interesting place. Just moved from Camden Road, it’s a ‘Coffee Warehouse’, which sounds godawful, but is actually an accurate, if rather prosaic, description of the enterprise: Doppio’s primary business is selling espresso machines and all the accompanying gadgets, as well as four exclusive brands of beans.
At the front of the long narrow room is the cafe, with a handful of sacks that you can sit on and gaze out at Kentish Town Road, superior cup of the brown stuff in hand. It’s a nice idea, and in some ways a similar business model to nearby Arancini Bros: coffee in an industrious space, the opposite of those posy Antipodean places in Soho and Shoreditch (that admittedly we quite love).
So yes, the coffee! How is it? Genial co-owner Carlo explained that they use a Magister machine imported from Milan – not as showy as some machines in hipster London coffeehouses – yet capable, he assured us with a smile, of an espresso of the finest quality.
The four brands are Italian Aroma, Danesi, Diemme (70% Arabica/30% robusta) and Lamborghini (85/15 Arabica/Robusta). If you’re not familiar with the difference between the beans, Arabica is the (generally) higher quality bean with the wider range, more delicate and pricey. Robusta is hardier, cheaper, but has a greater strength and crema. Worth saying too that an inferior Arabica bean will taste worse than a superior Robusta. So don’t get too caught up in any preconceptions.
We tried an espresso (just £1.20) using the Diemme bean: flowery, aromatic, with a nice body. Not too strong, not too bitter. Definitely more-ish.
This is a definite coup for the high street. Plus it’s open at weekends. Go support.
PS – they sell crustless sandwiches in beautiful wrappers. Delicious, but flown in from Italy. Really, boys, air miles, air miles. Mrs Kentishtowner’s mum could cobble them together down the road at a tenth of the price.
Words & Pics: Stephen Emms