Coffee Circus

May 2, 2012

When I was green and carefree and not really famous anywhere, I decided to write about coffee based on early visits to this coffee house, situated in quiet, leafy Crouch End. One of the more pleasant aspects of this area of North London is its absence from the tube map, and I felt the urge to shout from the rooftops that here was a shot worth travelling for. So, now that I’ve finally started doing this, it seemed only reasonable to kick off with the place where such thoughts gestated.

Coffee Circus is a bit bloody great.

The espresso is served customarily as a double-shot. Having discussed the process with the baristas there over many visits, during which the place ended up feeling like some sort of front-room annexe to my nearby flat, I know that the weight of the ground coffee is specifically configured to the temperature and pressure of the machine. Each shot is freshly ground and displaced into the portafilter with forearm-rippling energy, before being tamped just the right amount. The shot retains a healthy crema to the end, golden dark-brown and swirly, which doesn’t cling to the sides of the cup.

The shot itself is warm and rich at the front of the palate, before slivers of citrus create a pleasing sting at the end of the mouthful, as the warmth of the caffeine rush settles on you like a cloudy, duck-down duvet. The blend is bespoke, made for the venue by Climpson and Sons (where, incidentally, former head barista and coffee god Tom Haigh is now working), and subject to change, but the quality is consistent.

Coffee Circus espresso

The macchiato is equally delightful, silky and gentle. Arguably, the Coffee Circus house blend works better with company. The macchiato’s milk element is skilfully handled and there is none of that hideous dumping of a bit of froth on top of a shot, as evidenced by the latte art generated even on such a small canvas.

The venue itself is pleasingly ad-hoc, with a mish-mash of decor and regular exhibits by local artists of frankly varying quality. It is one of a triptych of venues, the other two being in and around Camden Market. There is free water with freshly chopped lemon or mint, which is a nice touch, and a good selection of food, including some very yummy soups.

An espresso or macchiato costs £1.80, in or out, and there is a little stampy card thing which only requires six before the next is gratis.

In summary, Coffee Circus is hugely worth the schlep to Crouch End, serving one of the best shots I’ve found in London, and in one of the happiest settings.

Coffee Circus Crouch End Cafe, 136 Crouch Hill, N8 9DX

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @CoffeeCircusLtd

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One Response to “Coffee Circus”


  1. […] first met Tom when I moved to London and shortly afterwards started frequenting Coffee Circus in Crouch End, which was the subject of my first review on this blog. The place had (and retains) a […]


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