Bean About Town, Kentish Town

May 4, 2012

Ah, Kentish Town. For some reason, in books you often find the weary and the lame squirreled away in this pocket of north London, a stone’s throw from the vibrantly bohemian Camden Town or the soft gentility of Primrose Hill. John Le Carré and Stella Rimington, in her guise as scribe rather than spy chief, have both used Kentish as a domestic metaphor for loneliness and workaholism. However, NW5 is now the little postcode that could, and there is an increasing sense that this slightly grubby corner of town is dragging itself up by its bootstraps and using a sense of community, a pleasingly unspoilt architectural harmony (see Kelly Street as an especially charming example), and its relative affordability to young professionals, to establish itself as somewhere worth going or, even, living.

It is thus no surprise to find Bean About Town established next to the train station, doing its bit to make Kentish Town quite nice.

Bean About Town, or BAT, operates a number of mobile coffee bars throughout London, as this very cute map sets out. The ethos appears to be low-key, coffee-at-a-potter, if you like. The baristas have clearly bought into the vibe and are friendly, enthusiastic, and happy to talk coffee when the queues allow. And the Kentish Town concession doesn’t allow that until around 10am, because, being next to the station, with its overground links to central and south London as well as the Northern Line, is freaking busy.Bean About Town Kentish Town concession

I therefore went at around 1130, under suitably leaden skies, and found easy passage to the bar. The machine is a lever-operated gem, and the beans are a bespoke roast from BAT itself, which is always nice to see. The espresso has a gloriously thick crema and looks dark as the sea, and watching it bubble and flutter out of the machine does build the excitement (well for me it does). The taste of the shot is strong and earthy, with a warm chocolately base. It lacks the high notes which really, to me, define a great shot, but it is a very, very good one. The caffeine hit is a good, solid punch though, which could explain the early morning rush. No pun intended.

It is perhaps the espresso shot’s weakness that is also its greatness strength. Because the shot has such good bass notes, it is superb with milk, as I found when I tried the macchiato. The warmth of the shot is augmented by the creaminess of the milk, which is expertly handled and poured, and creates one of the finest macchiatos I have yet encountered. Given that much of this concession’s business must be geared towards the latté morning crowd, the roast should be considered a triumph for that reason.

BAT does good espresso and great coffee. Shots are priced at a very reasonable £1.60. There is a jovial and engaging approach to business and a collect-nine, get-the-tenth-free card, but purchases after 11am count double stampwise, which has got to be good. And if those grim skies threaten, you can always hunker down under the Victorian glass and iron canopy, as long as you can find room among the street drinkers. Kentish will be Kentish afterall, for a while yet at least.

Bean About Town, the junction of Leighton Road and Kentish Town Road, NW5

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @beanabouttown


5 Responses to “Bean About Town, Kentish Town”

  1. I love the Bean About Town van at the Real Food Market at the Southbank, which is also run by Claire. I shall have to make my way out to Kentish Town and pay her a visit there as well 🙂

    Loving the blog, by the way,

  2. […] apart from Arancini Brothers about five minutes walk away, it occupies a void between the cart of Bean About Town by Kentish Town underground station and the coffee houses and stalls of Camden Town. The Fields […]

  3. […] can also see what my fellow coffee-blogger, Liquidjolt, makes of the Kentish Town Bean About Town […]

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