Workshop Coffee / Clerkenwell, London


Heavy on the distressed wood, artfully chiselled brick walls, structurally unnecessary iron poles, and exposed ventilation pipes, Workshop Coffee (née St. Ali) looks like the staff canteen of a trendy, ubernational environmental organisation filled with over-righteous vegans and their corporate lawyers. That, and a bit like the Guinness factory in Dublin, weirdly.

But they produce some exceptional coffee, the cutesy mini roaster taking up much of the ground floor. It’s part of the Clerkenwell Coffee Power Club which includes Caravan, The Espresso Room, Prufrock and the other one. There is nowhere else on earth, other than Aerobie’s factory itself, that has a higher concentration of AeroPresses per square foot.

Except maybe Williamsburg. Anyway.

We don’t really talk about coffee much despite percolating our way through gallons of it every week. We like to sample them all but really, our review would only ever say whether it tasted a bit like liquorice or not.

The menu is a masterclass of 21st century Clerkenwell design agency lunch wank laid out in a voguish slab serif and spattered with grandiose sounding ingredients; things most of us simply don’t understand but nod along with from behind our RayBan glasses and cosy shawl collar cardigans. Then we Google them.

A couple of faves:

  • tomato chermoula
  • kasundi
  • masterstock braise

Those of you who are proper food spods will probably have stopped reading by now owing to our unacceptable levels of kasundi ignorance.

Luckily, for the rest of us, the description of the burger we order is refreshingly simple. Batter up…

Burgers in London have got immeasurably prettier in the last couple of years, and this is no exception. Its smooth and shiny and holds it’s contents like a seductive silk cushion. There’s a nice yellowy tinge to the bread, a noticeable similarity in look to the custardy bun at Hawkmoor.

The rare breed beef is nicely cooked, with scorched edges and soft pink guts. The comté is melted like a dream - a tacky, chewy layer for your teeth to have a wrestle with as you bite through everything. However, its trademark strong, slightly sweet flavour combined with a very unbeefy, saltless patty renders the whole thing a bit flavourless. We actually had to add our own salt to the burger, which improved it immeasurably.

The chipotle mayo is more of a special sauce, and the extra pot is a competent accompaniment to dunk the potatoes in. But it is rather mild, and doesn’t have the kick to really sock it to the meat and the cheese.

Even hoofing more of the pot into the burger didn’t really achieve anything.

The rarebreediness of it reminds us of the shin burger at The Gun in Docklands. Same thinking going on here, and it just doesn’t quite sink our battleship.

So all in all, it’s okay. It’s like the dude you meet at a party wearing a fancy waistcoat drinking beer from the Kernel, who looks really enigmatic, but turns out to have the personality of a wheelbarrow.

A consummate effort for a coffee shop-cum-restaurant, in the right price bracket for the digerati and office-furniture-buying clientele that will go there, eat it, and enjoy it.

But it falls short of being something that will make your eyes widen.

  • Rob & Simon.

There is nowhere else on earth, other than Aerobie’s factory itself, that has a higher concentration of AeroPresses per square foot.

Workshop Coffee Menu
Workshop Coffee Burger
Workshop Coffee Burger Split
Workshop Coffee - Clerkenwell on Urbanspoon