With London’s gourmet coffee obsession showing no signs of running out of steam, the latest local opening – Tower 47, on Chalk Farm Road – ratchets up the geekery factor considerably, featuring specialist brewing processes and rare roasts aplenty.
Yet, somewhat amazingly, serious coffee isn’t their sole focus either. Unlike the more typical hole-in-the-wall joints, this new café is a sprawling place, encompassing a large mezzanine level music shop, a warren of soundproofed rehearsal rooms boasting top class drum kits, and sizable art gallery space too.
It was set up by the effervescent Syd, a New Yorker with a career on Wall Street behind her. Now she’s fulfilling all her creative passions at once, bringing typically Big Apple levels of service and attention to detail to this ballsy, buzzy Camden hub.
In addition to the usual machine brewed espresso-based drinks, we were keen to witness the chemistry set theatrics of the syphon method. As inquisitive onlookers gawped over stacks of red velvet cookies in the front window, our barista halogen heated and then ice cooled water to produce fierce percolating bubbles.
The result? A coffee as light as a herbal tea, but still packing a decent early morning pick-me-up punch. The Ozone single origin Ethiopian Yirgacheffe roast used was fruity, in complete contrast to the Volcano Coffee Works Villa Esperanza, from Colombia, which we tried via the pour-over filter method. Here was a much darker, thicker morning coffee, and yet the flavours were still as delicate as they were complex.
A brioche of caramelised onions and sausage proved a hearty accompaniment, sweet yet definitely savoury. The cake selection alone requires multiple return visits, or there’s a range of DIY yoghurts among the other NYC touches.
With a relaxed muso clientele, free jazz on Sunday afternoons, neon Amy Winehouse art by Darren West and even regular BYO design 3D printing experiments, there are all sorts of reasons why Tower 47 might capture your imagination.
We’ll stick with the entrancing glow of the bubbling coffee syphon.