Coffee heaven in Camden Town

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If you can avoid the flow of the crowds (no easy thing on a busy Saturday) and turn left out of Camden Town underground station you will soon be in for a coffee shaped treat. I’m not talking about the Costa/Starbucks/Aanotherbrand of coffee shop that charges you a small fortune for a Macchinolattiacano in ‘tall’, ‘grande’, ‘regular ‘or just plain ‘overpriced’ form; in fact I’m not talking about you getting to taste any coffee at all. Well not immediately at least.

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A five minute’s walk from the station (in the direction of Mornington Crescent tube) there is a right turning named Delancey Street. At the top there is an almost hidden gem for anyone that values their coffee. Here George Constantinou has been selling freshly ground coffee and beans since 1978. Its not a fancy place, it looks like its not be decorated since 1978 (or earlier!). He sells coffee in about 6 different varieties (but of course you can blend them).

For the price of a latte at one of the insipid high street chains you can get 250g of pure caffeine joy that you can take home and brew yourself. I tend to go for the Costa Rica or the Colombian but George supplies restaurants across the capital so the Continental blend , Brazilian (Santos light)  or Kenyan AA might be more to your taste. IMG_1039The beans are roasted on the premises and George will often push past the customers crowding into his shop to check the roasting beans or load or empty the machine.

If you want the beans grinding he’ll do that while you wait. No pre-packs here and no fancy packaging either. There is nothing fancy about the Camden Coffee Shop, it sells coffee (and some filter papers) and that’s really it.

What you also get from George (as I remember from my first visit) is advice on buying and keeping coffee. Buy it from him, not a supermarket: the other stuff is inferior, and he’s right. I live in Northampton so to buy coffee in Camden Town I have to make a 120 mile round trip!

Keep it in the freezer (or the fridge) and only grind as much as you need. A simple electric grinder won’t cost you much these days and you really will notice the difference (and so will your friends – all of whom comment on my coffee) but if you do prefer the hassle free ease of ground coffee you should still keep it cold. It won’t freeze and you can use it directly from the fridge or freezer.

George is getting on a bit, I know he’s been in and out of hospital in the last few years and I don’t think the family business will outlast him. The Camden Coffee Shop might just be one of the last proper coffee shops in London (there is a good one in Soho too) so do make a point of visiting if you can.

But be warned. George is a one man band. If he needs to go to lunch or the post office he shuts up shop. He won’t be long so wait. It will be worth your while and you won’t buy better coffee anywhere else

 

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