This review relates to the customer service, not the coffee. I was excited about bringing a friend to find the famous Gywlim Davies coffee cart and had been planning to come and sample his coffee for some time. According to one website, however, the cart doesn’t exist anymore, so maybe our information was out of date – to be fair it was based on a newspaper cutting from 2009 just after he won the world barista championships! One antiques stallholder we asked in Columbia road flower market had never heard of him. Determined not to give up, we found out online that the Prufrock espresso bar was nearby on Shoreditch High Street – this was apparently Gywlim’s project along with a training centre and café near Chancery Lane. So, off we went. Another near disappointment – two units near his café were bring renovated; at first we thought these were what should have been Prufrock, so we were about to give up a second time when I decided to step into a trendy Shoreditch clothes shop and ask. Low and behold, the Prufrock espresso bar was found… Elated now, we soon had the wind taken out of our sails by the rather frosty and sarcastic barista – not Gwylim, but then we didn’t necessarily expect to find the man himself serving – whose curt replies to our simple enquiries were less than impressive. I’m sure we were far less interesting than the friend who was deep in conversation with our barista behind the bar. The coffee was very nice, but sitting in the hushed, reverent atmosphere of this hyper-trendy Shoreditch clothes shop, surrounded by the young disciples of east-London cool, while being serenaded with the rather solemn vibe of the ‘Godfather’ soundtrack, we started to feel a bit depressed. Don’t get me wrong, the coffee was very, very nice, but we had planned for a long time to come here and were less than impressed with the customer service. We may still try the Chancery Lane Branch, but happily our search of Columbia Road Flower market enabled us to discover a rather charming little cake shop – Cake Hole was the name – where the quaint decor and charming staff will have us beating a path back to their door, with our family and friends in tow. I know that this isn't the vibe which the clothes shop is going for, but our friend might at least take a leaf out of their book when it comes to customer service. Being friendly never goes out of fashion. Gwylim, I would love to have the chance to buy coffee from you in person, or even another of your baristas, but is this what you had in mind?
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Wed Sep 15 2010
NB Read our review of the Clerkenwell branch of Prufrock here – the review below refers only to the Shoreditch original.
East London: stomping ground of the coffee connoisseurs. No-one should pass through Shoreditch without a pilgrimage to Prufrock, the winner of our best cup of coffee award earlier this year.
What’s the big fuss? Mainly that the shiny Victoria Arduino espresso machine has been operated by top coffee names, from the 2009 Swedish Barista Champion Mattias Björklund to the UK’s first World Barista Champion, Gwylim Davies.
But our most recent visit offered surprisingly disappointing coffee: Square Mile’s summer espresso was served in a proper, thick-walled espresso cup, but the flavours were oddly off-kilter. An eyebrow-raising sour note quickly ran off the tongue to a smoky, tobacco-like bitter finish. A dash of sugar redressed the balance slightly. Still, tempered in a flat white, we enjoyed the toasty brown bread and caramelised sugar profiles.
It’s not often they get it wrong, and we’ve had enough great coffees here to know what they’re capable of.
Prufrock Coffee 140 Shoreditch High Street