Let’s Graze

Date January 8, 2010 | Map

This was a totally random find. I was happily walking back from a visit to a genius and wanted to reward myself, and as Oxford Street is not the most rewarding place for people like me, I decided to explore the side streets. In Eastcastle Street, a small café was advertising Union Hand-Roasted coffee: enough to entice me to enter.

commoncoffeeI have never knowingly tried Union coffee, a brand of London-roasted beans that has a good reputation among coffee aficionados. The Union folks roast their beans in East London, not too far from the Olympic Park and close to the River Lea. They produce a dozen or so blends, sourced from carefully selected farmers and co-operatives, with whom they have direct relationships, they say.

The café I discovered was Let’s Graze Reynolds, setting itself apart from rougher caffs and sandwich shops by a dynamic outfit, welcoming atmosphere, franchise-ready corporate identity, and small portions of food. The latter seems to be their motto: quality, not quantity. I was getting excited. While the food looked nice indeed, I only came here for a latte, made with Union beans. I was served by friendly, slightly alternative-trendy young people, who somehow reminded me of gap-year backpackers touring Australia, but the coffee was skillfully prepared; it looked and smelled promising.

The taste, though, was a bit of a letdown. Definitely better than most chain-coffees, but rather flat overall, as if they tried not to alienate customers with too strong flavours. The coffee was nice and smooth, but it did not have much body and was certainly rather low in acidity. Was this because of their choice of blend, Bright Note, were their beans too old, or was their water-milk ratio flawed? Perhaps I am overly critical, because I much prefer crisp and zingy coffees, but I won’t make a detour to visit again. However, maybe I’ll try the food next time.

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