Upper Street and its tributaries have more than their fair share of cafés and restaurants, but a decent coffee shop is still hard to find there. Coffee Works Project is the first proper new-wave coffee bar to spill its beans near the Angel, drawing in a mix of chatty families and creatives hunched over their laptops.
A changing selection of three filter coffees is advertised on a blackboard above the bar, and friendly staff are happy to explain their distinct flavours. A caramel-coloured Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (served in a glass jug) was so light that it looked more like a black tea. We were advised not to add any milk to it, since this would hide its delicate floral notes. The brew didn’t need any sugar either – it was inherently sweet. But for a proper caffeine hit, choose the flat white. Served in a glass, the Kiwi classic was strong and smooth without any trace of bitterness.
Behind the bar, a windowed fridge reveals British charcuterie (from Moons Green) and Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses, which are used in the café’s sandwiches, salads and on cheese and charcuterie boards.
There’s also a selection of cakes: the ginger and cardamom cake sprinkled with pomegranate aril, looked pretty but disappointed with its crumbly dryness. Better though was a thick slice of banana and chocolate cake: it was moist and generously crammed with dark chocolate chunks.
The decor is kept simple: white walls, reclaimed school chairs and tables, and a vast wooden bar in the current coffee shop fashion. On sunny days, the big window frontage floods the vast premises with light, and there are plans for opening the garden at the back – hopefully in time for the Indian summer.