The Gentlemen Baristas coffee house can be found in Union Street, one of the many little back streets around Southwark that could easily appear in a Dickens adaptation with very little set dressing.
In fact, the shop itself would probably need no set dressing at all! (Apart from the removal of the ‘one way’ sign that is spoiling the below picture featuring the nonchalant modelling skills of Grenson and En Brogue)
It has a shop frontage that by rights should permanently have snow drifts in each corner of the windows.
Step inside and the Dickensian vibe continues as all of the gentlemen baristas are suitably hirsute with some fine moustaches and beards on show (I am also certain that they are big fans of tweed and arrive to work on suitably sturdy Victorian bicycles).
Despite the hairiness and the aforementioned ‘gentlemen’ of the title, this is not in any way some sort of specialist sexist coffee shop. It is not an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club. Many of the baristas are in fact gentle ladies. This was welcomed by Grenson as he could carry on with his new hobby of making every lady that he encounters immediately fall in love with him! Admittedly a fair few men also came over a little giddy in his presence, but walking around town with him must be a little like walking around town with David Beckham.
Anyway, enough of my jealousy, back to the coffee shop. It’s fair to say that the Gentlemen Baristas has an excess of charm. But it’s not all style over substance. These gentlemen baristas really know how to barist! (if that’s an actual word).
Their flat white is one of the smoothest in London and when you combine it with a top notch sandwich and packet of crisps (or fruit for the healthy eaters) in a £6.50 meal deal, it gets even smoother.
But lets face it, you’d expect no less from ‘The Coolest Baristas in the UK’ as voted for in the UK Coffee Stop Awards!
I can also recommend for breakfast (or whichever meal you like I suppose, it’s a free country), one of their chocolate twirly pastry things. I’ve no idea of their official name (something French that I can’t pronounce no doubt) but once, when struggling to describe what I wanted, one of the gentlemen baristas helpfully cleared it up as something he referred to as a ‘chocolate b*st*rd’. You see!? They weren’t crowned the coolest baristas in the UK for nothing.
Just to be clear, let’s not get confused about this coolness. Much like the way the baristas being referred to as gentlemen doesn’t mean that they are all male, their ‘cool’ moniker does not mean that they are frosty and aloof. Far from it. You’d be hard pushed to find more welcoming and friendly staff. In fact, as we were leaving they offered me a free take away coffee that someone had mistakenly ordered!
There is nothing in life that tastes more sweet than free stuff. Although it may have pushed me over my safe caffeine level for the day, but hey, when you’re hanging with the coolest baristas in the UK you have to be a little rock and roll!
So in summary, if you’re looking for a Dickensian coffee house with the coolest gentlemen baristas that aren’t all men, serving smooth coffee that is sometimes free and accompanied by big chocolate b*st*rds, then we suggest that you hunt out this little gem of a coffee shop.
The Man and the Dog.