Cheeky Coffee: Bread And Bean, Archway

Oh joy! Coffee packed with a rich sweetness so comforting when peering at the sludge-grey outside

The Bread And Bean received enough votes in our recent Reader Awards Best Coffee 2012 to make us wonder why we hadn’t checked it out already. And so last Sunday we strolled there under leaden skies, pleasantly reminded just how near Archway actually is to NW5 (and how many goddamn places we have yet to review on Junction Road, for that matter).

Anyway, it had been years since we ate at the St John Tavern, so first we popped by for some sober January fare – breaded halloumi (not as good as the grilled stuff) with beetroot, butternut squash and tomato, all washed down with sparkling water and lime. Very pleasant, and good to see the interior still elegant, service attentive and wood-burner red hot.

But the main event was yet to come. We scuttled to the nearby Bread And Bean to see what the fuss is about – and we weren’t disappointed, schlurping down some of the best coffee we’ve tasted since the Fields Beneath opened alongside Kentish Town West station.

The cafe occupies a pleasant corner site with large windows, against which mostly solo customers or duos perch with laptops, newspapers or books. Bare bulbs, lots of wood, a counter of tempting sweet stuff. Space is limited so every corner hugs a seat or bench, and there’s additional space down some steps in the rather chilly back room.

The coffee is Revelation and befits its name, a popular blend of Union hand-roasted Arabica beans. Our macchiatos – it was the kind of damp, wintry day that required something more luxurious than an espresso – were thick, with a pleasantly floral aroma. But more importantly, they were packed with a rich sweetness so comforting when peering at the sludge-grey outside.

And to those worried that the newly opened Costa Coffee in Tufnell Park will ruin the trade of the other cafes, we’re happy to report that Archway’s Costa, directly opposite the Bean, was empty, whereas the latter was full. Quality will win out.

As we tweeted shortly afterwards, this could well be the year of Archway. So expect plenty more N19 to come (and look out for lots of Tufnell Park too).

Oh, and we didn’t eat anything at Bread And Bean. What would you recommend on our next visit? And where should we review next in, um, Archnell?

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Bread And Bean, 37 Junction Road, N19 5QU. Coffee around £2

Words and main image: Stephen Emms


  • Show Comments

  • Louise

    Really glad to see that an independent is winning over one of the three Costas in a one mile radius. Will be checking this one out on Sunday. Thanks for the review!

  • Andrew

    In Archway/Tufnell Park? Hmm. Spaghetti House still seems to be knocking out hearty home cooking despite long standing main man Enzo’s return to Italy – engagingly bonkers old School Dartmouth Park clientele – lots of anecdotes about the GLC and Greenham Common to be heard. I’ve heard Del Parc described as a mini-moro but haven’t been for years. Intriguingly there is a new far east mini-market on Junction Road that has a big casserole dish of calves feet bubbling away on he counter

  • Kentishtowner

    Wow. The mini-market sounds excellent. And watch out for a Del Parc review very soon. We’ve heard great things.

  • LD

    I would definitely suggest venturing a bit further up the hill to the Charlotte Despard. Fantastic pub with great beer selection and lovely owners & staff. It has become my ‘local’ despite there being several places that are technically more local!

  • Rob

    Can’t rate del Parc highly enough, definitely worth a look. Blue Moon Thai Cafe also a much underrated TP restaurant.

  • Tigger

    Gilak and 500 at the top of Holloway Road (and avoid Harman – horrible!). Sushi Wa, the new Japanese on Highgate Hill. The Bull microbrewery/restaurant North Hill, Highgate. Have you done Nuraghe recently?

  • Fran

    As a Tufnellite, I’m a bit concerned that the opening of Costa will mean that the recent influx of new (and excellent) coffee places in KT won’t spread in our direction…

    But in terms of places to review, Blue Moon and Lalibela, the Ethiopian are both worth a go. There’s a also a really bizarre ‘antiques’ shop on Fortess Road, which is worth going to for the experience, rather than to buy anything. The guy makes his own lamps, the most notable being a full-sized mannequin dressed as a bikini-clad Cleopatra. We found it open on a Friday night at around 11pm, with the owner drinking wine and listening to 90s dance music, and he was very happy to chat to us about all the crazy stuff he makes.

  • LuckyM

    Bread and Bean is great. Next time you are there try their fish finger sandwich – crispy fish fingers, home made tartare sauce and a lovely italian roll. Genius.

  • corinna

    Lalibella is amazing, was there last night for the 4th time. Ethiopian isn’t a cuisine that necessarily springs to mind when you ponder where to eat of an evening but this place is a must for any discerning foodie living in the T-park area. Get a big sharing platter for £20 where you will be served a gorgeous selection of meat and veg stews served on a gigantic sour pancake (injera) to be eaten with your fingers. A bit spicy, very rich and incredibly tasty.