mon_galleryFriday February 27th 2009


Monmouth Coffee, Covent Garden


27 Monmouth Street

Covent Garden


tel: +44 (0)20 7379 3516

Monday to Saturday – 8.00 to 18.30
closed bank holidays


By Mac E. Arto


The date for breakfast had been in our diaries for weeks. We were looking forward to meeting up with our friend and her baby.


We generally don’t do breakfast out so when we made the date we didn’t even have to suggest where to meet, it would have to be Monmouth.


Monmouth is not so much a coffee shop as a place of worship… for followers and devotees of coffee….not the stuff you get in milky Starbuckets but Coffee. Monmouth doesn’t muck about…. it’s all about the coffee:- “In our sampling room you can try any of our single estate and single origin coffees before buying beans to take home. We have a range of pastries and cakes from Villandry and Paul  to have with your coffee, to stay or take away. We also sell the things you need to make a single cup filter coffee at home including filter cones and papers. During winter, we sell chocolate from Pralus , as well as chocolate truffles from Sally Clarke”


Basically there are only about 15 seats in the shop and that depends upon how big you are and whether you’re happy to share, which in fact most people are. The seats are set out in three booths, a six seater, a four seater, a sort of four seater corner booth and there’s even a tiny one seater booth.


We queued – happily – the mark of a true fan, not the fine weather fans that only go to the game when the team’s high in the league or the game’s at home. Several people left who were in the queue behind us, we smiled, we understood, biding our time, waiting for the call, and when it came we surrendered into our booth and waited for the mother and child to arrive.


The mother and child arrived, hugs and kisses baptised our breakfast gathering, the child was secreted away beneath a large winter coat but popped out wearing, according to doting mother, her Guantánamo Bay jump suit, and when the baby was duly presented and handed around for inspection she did indeed wear just such an orange jump suit.


We ordered Fazenda Barreiro from Brazil (sweet chocolate with full body and cherry acidity) and a cappuccino.  We had been salivating over the counter heaving with pastries as we queued and now we ordered the pear and almond tarts. Mother ordered a Nilgiris Tamil Nadu from the Balmaadi Estate India (caramel and spice notes with medium body and acidity). The baby chose not order at this point. Serenely she gave herself up to our devotion.


During our time at Monmouth we shared our booth with five others, two sets of couples and one lone worshipper. The devoted clutch of staff  were chatty and attentive, eager to serve up the dark elixirs – I had a second cup of Fazenda Barreiro… 2870437983_d6484b14b3_m


It had been a while since we’d met so the conversation was fast and free ranging, fuelled by the dark stuff. We got to talking about food and recipes; I mentioned hearing that somebody’s mother had said how your state of mind will affect your cooking, for example you need to be in a calm state to  make fresh mayonnaise otherwise it curdles. This revelation caused the mother to recall the memory of a book (and film) Como agua para chocolate  Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies. It’s about the feeling she pours into her cooking that then affects the people who eat it; the magical qualities of food when you put love into the cooking.


When we eventually left to re-enter the secular world of Covent Garden we were aglow, warm with the feeling of being loved. Monmouth Coffee. Amen.


Painting by Olha Pryymak