This hip Scandi-inflected little spot (think washes of light birch wood, smatterings of cork and copper, a stone counter top, lofty ceilings and shelves of colourfully labelled craft beer) may seem like a beacon in the caffeine badlands of Gray’s Inn Road, but it’s actually only a few streets away from Prufrock and the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs on Leather Lane. No small competition, but Catalyst is, luckily, already carving out a punchy little niche for itself. My flat white, brewed with Vagabond beans, was smooth and sweet, served palatably hot (they’re so often frustratingly tepid, and in the narrow world of coffee it’s these small details that lift a place from ‘meh’ to ‘YEAH’).
Food was good: veggie and mostly cakey, though a chia seed wrap stuffed with halloumi, egg and avocado was far more delicious than expected. Catalyst opens early (from 7am) and closes late; there’s a decent little list of cocktails, craft beers (on tap, no less) and wines, perfect for sacking off the packed, office-y pubs round these parts. This isn’t a jack-of-all-trades situation though. Coffee is very much the focus: there’s a roaster (they’ll be creating their own blends for bulk sale) in the basement, visible through a glass floor, and they sell hip barista gadgets – Aeropresses, brew pots and the like. Sterling stuff all round.