Monmouth is regularly touted as the best coffee shop in London. There is much hype surrounding the place, which usually means only one thing… an earth shattering disappointment is in store. But a coffee shop attracting such acclaim from caffeine fuelled Londoners can’t be bad, can it? Do we believe the hype? Have we been brainwashed into thinking Monmouth coffee is the sweet nectar of the caffeine Gods, brought down unto Borough Market to perk up tired city dwellers, when in fact it is much the same as Starbucks?
There’s only one way to find out, one must sample. Easier said than done, Monmouth has a queue outside all the time.
Before you even try the coffee you must assess whether the coffee is worth queuing for. This can cause a predicament. Whilst in the queue I had to assess the merits of this so called ‘best coffee in London’… especially when it began to piss it down with lovely wet rain. Here’s what I came up with:
1) Everyone says it’s good.
2) It’s in Borough Market. Everything in Borough Market is good.
3) There’s always a queue.
4) They do nice patterns in your flat white.
They take your order in the queue, trapping those who hadn’t quite decided whether or not any coffee is worth queuing in the rain for. Sneaky that. We went for a flat white (of course) and a cappuccino – both £2.25.
As you inch ever closer to the front you are smacked in the face by the smell of coffee and awakeness. It smells delicious and delectable and a whole lot better than other coffee shops. When you have smelled the smell you are forever trapped. It is similar to the tactic employed by McDonald’s and Subway, but the smell is off fresh coffee, rather than three day old lard.
The queue moves along the Monmouth conveyor belt, entertaining the masses with the sleek operation they’ve got going on. An army of baristas buzz about preparing coffee for what appeared to be half of the city, whilst the other side of the shop is taken up by a big wooden table where you can sit and stuff yourself with bread and jam for £3.10. A bread and jam buffet, if you will.
The coffee is made with organic Jersey whole milk made by a specific person called Jeff in Somerset – and that’s that. No skimmed, semi skimmed and definitely no soy. This means that if you’re lactose intolerant Monmouth don’t care. They also have special sugar, obviously, which is organic, of course. It’s from Assukkar, Costa Rica, fyi.
When the coffee arrives a lady in wild glasses pours milk in and does a little pattern for you. Then you trot off out to assess ‘the best coffee in London’. Not being a coffee connoisseur I cannot comment using the particular coffee type words that these madcap people-who-take-their-coffee-and-or-wine-too-seriously use. I did not detect any hints of pencil lead, oak or leather furnishings, but I can tell you it was a bloody good coffee. Would I queue in the rain for another one? Possibly.
The Verdict: Could be the best coffee in London. I’ll continue the research.
7/10 – (Points deducted for lack of milk options)
Monmouth Coffee Company
2 Park Street
London SE1 9AB