54 Tavistock Place, near Russell Square, London. WC1H 9RG
Flat white: £2.60. Coffee a good temperature, a definite flat white, suitably creamy and good coffee beans. I’m reluctant to give more than 8 because the staff were a little lacking in friendliness. 8/10
Beards: 2, though, sadly, none were exciting (as a slight tangent, I saw a rather spectacular moustache aboard the top lip of a man in a lift the other day – it was a very impressive handlebar with double curl on each side. None of that in Store Street and it didn’t feel quite hipster or eccentric enough for such above-lip mastery)
Laptop: 1, though I’m fairly sure there would be more later in the day and at studenty times, whenever that might be.
MacBook: 0, but with potential for a fair few.
How to blend in: Either sling a camera round your neck and clutch a London map or go for student slouch wear, ideally with preppy hoodie.
Interior: It looks just like the Store Street/original Store Street Espresso café. Stripped back with emphasis on white paint, inside an old building. The furniture is matching with square wood/metal stools. It’s not a café you’re encouraged to linger in, particularly where the seating is concerned (but maybe not everyone feels as rickety as I do perched atop wooden stools – I will (not) be impressed if anyone else sniggers at the more medical definition of stools; I even deleted “hard stools” as it was far too sniggersome, but I do rather like *stooly. Pathetic, I know)
WiFi: This is a bit of an issue. Along with the uncomfy seating, WiFi appears to only be available at certain times of day due to people spending too long sitting around on laptops surfing the internet. It’s not a welcoming concept, though I do understand it must be infuriating to have one person at a table for an hour or so, having spent £2.60 or similar on one drink and then topping up their water to look like they’re still a paying customer.
Food: I have a bit of an issue with this too. It all adds to the slightly officious nature of this cafe. There is a nice-looking, small menu but it says that no alterations can be made to dishes as listed on the menu as the kitchen is small. I understand all this but it all feels a bit defensive and unwelcoming.
Toilet: Yes. Small but does the job. A bit like the seating really.
Summary: A good coffee, as coffee at the original Store Street Espresso always has been, but I didn’t feel particularly welcome or comfortable. It’s a nice interior, wood, white, windows and a nod to industrial. It’s reassuring to have a decent coffee in the midst of central London, near Russell Square, but I won’t go out of my way to go again. 6.5/10 may seem harsh but I really don’t like the “rules” and concept of pre-empting requests for slight deviations from the menu, that you might over-use the WiFi and you might get too comfy.