Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane

May 8, 2012

Bank holidays present a quandary, don’t they? It’s a rare opportunity to enjoy some mostly well-deserved wandering time, but one taken by much of the adult world, so when you want to head out and find somewhere to relax most places are, rightly, shut. But a quick search revealed that the well-regarded Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA) was, indeed, braving it out there for the rest of us, and would happily provide a berth for this reviewer and an accomplice.

DoCaSA is a good way to spend the afternoon.


Having strolled down to the coffee shop, via the absolutely brilliant and well-worth-a-visit furniture boutique Forest, we found a welcoming and friendly space, airy and light. My accomplice is a tea-drinker, more of which, anon, but I went first for the ‘long macchiato’. This is made in a slightly unorthodox way, which doesn’t seem to allow the milk to blend particularly with the shot. The proportions of milk to shot seem heavily weighted to the dark stuff, and there isn’t a great deal of the seeping and weaving that creams up an espresso and gives that rich, heady smoothness I personally look for. The milk was beautifully made, as evidenced by a cracking latté I had the pleasure of seeing, if not tasting, but I’m not wholly convinced that it works as a macchiato. Perhaps my error was going ‘long’, and I am happy to be convinced of the error of my ways on a (very likely) return visit.

The pure espresso shot was up next, and it too was fractionally less good than I’d anticipated. There was a fabulous bite to it, high notes exploding all over the front of my mouth, but I felt a distinct lack of body. It’s almost an inverse of the Bean About Town roast which was thick and earthy but had little at the top end; the DoCaSA roast seems to tilt a little too far the other way. There was a healthy kick and I knew I was drinking a shot rather than a short coffee, but I would have liked, to use a big band metaphor, a little more bass and a little less brass.

But these are minor and technical quibbles. The shop itself though is a total and unmitigated joy. My accomplice and I found a little, hermity booth in which to enfold ourselves and hide away from the drizzly May weather. Her tea, incidentally, was pleasant and well-presented, but we don’t really talk about tea here, do we? The cafe is set out as a freelancer’s dream, spacious and well-appointed, light and desked-up with Apple Macs in mind. The design is both modern and friendly – you don’t feel like you’re in a mid-century Modern showroom but you can feel as cool as if you were. There are also interesting displays of contemporary art on the walls.

Ah, the loyalty card

However, and thank goodness, the atmosphere is genuinely relaxed and unstuffy and, as a place to while away the hours, DoCaSA comes highly recommended. Shots are £2.00 and there is a buy nine, get the tenth free card – bonus marks for the typography and design of the card as well. A short walk from the City and Exmouth Market, and set among the usually buzzing Leather Lane market, whether you’re writing your coffee review blog or looking for someone to ease your feet off, this is a pretty good place to start.

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, 14-16 Leather Lane, EC1N 7SU

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @DeptOfCoffee


One Response to “Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane”

  1. […] was a dollop-merchant. The milk was very well made, but like the macchiato I had at DoCaSA (see my previous review), this method doesn’t elicit the silkiness I like from a macchiato – the point, for me, […]

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