For some people, the attraction of modern cocktail bars is the creativity that clearly goes into developing recipes and selecting ingredients, as well as the theatre with which the drinks are presented. Meeting someone for a coffee doesn’t usually have that sense of occasion. Unless you visit the new Lavazza flagship store opposite Liberty, just off Regent Street.
The space is grand, high-ceilinged and adorned with coffee-themed artworks, including an arabica bean-shaped chandelier hanging over the central island bar. Here, you can choose from an array of different origins and roasts, as well as all sorts of means of, ahem, espressing coffee. Anyone who has ever experienced the withering look of a Milanese barista for ordering a cappuccino after 11am will be relieved to discover that Lavazza does not only cater to the traditional Italian coffee styles but everything from the moka pot and French press to Chemex pour-over and nitro cold brew.
To guide customers through the choices, Lavazza has a well-educated team, headed by Adrian Stoian, who’s referred to as the ‘coffelier’ (sommelier for coffee, geddit?), although he prefers ‘head bartender who knows about coffee’. He certainly has a sommelier’s knowledge of terroir and varietal, however, and is very engaging when he shares such titbits as: ‘The higher a coffee grows, it tends to be more juicy and fruity, with more acidity; lowland coffee is going to be more earthy, with chocolatey and nutty flavours.’
Upstairs, a restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch. And naturally, throughout the store, cakes and pastries are available with coffee. Marco Pedron, the pastry chef for the Lavazza flagship in Milan and now this one in London, has an interesting approach to the cakes he pairs with coffee. ‘Our mission is to go for acidity,’ he says. ‘If you just have sugar, chocolate and caramel, those cover all the subtle flavour notes in coffee. If you add some acidity, it helps highlight the coffee.’
So, Pedron has crafted a cheesecake using caprino goat’s cheese, which has a certain level of acidity itself, with a sharp and bittersweet topping of mango, passion fruit and bergamot. In his take on the classic Viennese Sachertorte, he has created an apricot jam with lemon, grapefruit and lime peel. It’s the ideal accompaniment to make that dark hit of espresso soar.
Lavazza is at 23-24 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HU; lavazza.co.uk