An NYC coffee chain fuelled by espresso and millions of venture capital dollars will open two London cafes — but it has its sights set on 24.
Blank Street Coffee will open two cafes — at 44 Charlotte Street, in Fitzrovia, and 3 Redchurch Street, in Shoreditch — on 5 July. The Fitzrovia location, which the brand billed as its initial flagship coffee shop in March, is slightly larger than its typical space in New York City, where it has 29 locations split between cafes and carts. It has seats and two bars for customers to sit at, despite its model being predicated on enhancing the speed, portability, and ease of takeaway coffee.
That largely comes from eschewing the dominant aesthetic of speciality coffee in London: the often unrealistic romance over a worker who is more often than not ill-compensated for their work attached to the figure of the barista paying microscopic attention to coffee preparation.
It uses souped-up versions of what many home (or office) coffee drinkers might know as “bean-to-cup,” where the press of one button produces anything from an espresso to a latte. Made by Swiss manufacturer Eversys, they are highly regarded in the speciality coffee world but are yet to truly crack the market.
Its coffee beans will come from Origin, a roaster with experience providing good-enough-quality beans for high-volume operators — it previously supplied Soho House’s entire UK network. Blank Street claims its its smallest coffees will come in under £3; whether it can sustain that pricing given the well-recognised cost pressures on hospitality remains to be seen. Its iced coffee offering — including pistachio and strawberry and cream lattes — is promisingly embracing of fun.
If Blank Street makes good on its aim to have 24 cafes by the year’s end, it will have one of the largest portfolios of a still somewhat self-consciously “speciality” group, comparable to that of Black Sheep and way ahead of London’s most successful speciality chains. Those who used to occupy that space — Taylor Street, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs — fell prey to inflated financial interests and over-expansion.
More soon on its presence in London coffee culture.