Tapped & Packed, Tottenham Court Road

August 29, 2012

I must admit, I was a little daunted by the prospect of putting fingers to keyboard on this one. T&P has long been one of my favourites, and I often drop in on my bike while at work and enjoy what I consider to be one of the best macchiatos in London. Having long recommended the place to friends and colleagues alike, I felt it was time to commit to an actual review. So here goes…

Umm so I sort of gave away what I think there, already, didn’t I?

T&P, TCRTottenham Court Road is another of my unduly fetishised arterials, but there is little to commend it. It links the wash of the West End to the grittier Euston corridor and Somers Town and Regent’s Park, a buffer zone of estates and commercial spaces before the chaos of Camden Town. It’s a straight of electronic shops and prostitute cards, of chain cafés and sandwich shops, and of side roads that lead off to better things, like Bedford Square, or dead-end facias of blocks of flats or delivery bays. In other words, I’m not an enormous fan. The street’s name derives from a farm which used to stand at one end, and its adjoining house, Tottenham Court, but there is no bucolic residue to enjoy. TCR embodies, for me, the worst of the soulless urban sprawl which dominates some of central London, a facet of the dilution of community that so many of the more vibrant areas of the city have not suffered. Among this, though, sits T&P, at 114 TCR, along with its sister shop on Rathbone Place, just around the corner.

And, in my opinion at least, thank God. You can’t polish a turd, but you can find, sometimes, a diamond in one. And that’s a succint, if slightly unwholesome, summary of how I view T&P. It’s marvellous, from beard to tail. I first had an El Salvadorian single origin from Hasbean. It was gloriously fruity, with an almost port-like aftertaste, giving a really warm, fulsome finish to a clever, complex roast. It felt strong and rich and comforting, a sort of after dinner pick-me-up at midday. I then had the macchiato. I’ve said before that I consider T&P’s macchiato to be one of the trinity of best macchiatos I’ve enjoyed, the others being at Colonna & Smalls and at the Piano Bar in Camden Market. Once again, T&P delivered. It’s a mark of real quality and consistency when you go in expecting it to be brilliant, rather than being pleasantly surprised when it is. The drink was made using the playfully named Cat That Got The Cream roast by Hasbean, one of their blends designed to be used as a base for milky coffees, and the result was spectacular. The macchiato was soft and dreamy, stretched milk swirling into a caramelly shot which left a sweet but crisp taste on the palate. The espresso was £1.80 and the macchiato was £2, and they have the second best loyalty card, an elongated bicycle to which gets added little cycling men (the first best is still Bread and Bean and their poised owls), and six coffees get you a seventh free.

T&P, TCR The venue itself is a joy too. As you can see from the picture, the place abounds with pleasing little touches, like up-cycling glass jars into water vessels. They always come beautifully frosted too, which I really like. There is a tree trunk in the middle of the shop, which you can see a photo of on my FB page if you’re so minded. The staff are overwhelmingly happy and talkative, and know their coffee too. As I’ve said before, when a barista takes you through the coffees available and chats with passion and understanding about what they do, I feel the whole experience of visiting and enjoying the product augmented by that interaction. Sociability should be, in my mind, at the core of every coffee shop. Or a tree trunk. But mostly sociability. The place is usually heaving, but there are benches outside too, and if somewhere is worth going for coffee alone, even if you can’t always sit in and enjoy it, it’s Tapped & Packed.

So, that’s Tapped & Packed. This review has been shorter than most, I think, because there isn’t really a great deal more to say. And the accomplice says my reviews are a bit text heavy anyway. If you want a consistently excellent cup of coffee, in a vibrant, stylish environment, served by knowledgeable, friendly people, then it’s pretty obvious your wants will be sated by a journey here. Or the Rathbone Place concern, which is just as good. More than anything, the fact that I’ve never had an even vaguely disappointing coffee here speaks volumes for the care they take over their product. Now, if we could just that farm going again…

Tapped & Packed, 114 Tottenham Court Road, W1, or 26 Rathbone Place, W1

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @tapcoffee


3 Responses to “Tapped & Packed, Tottenham Court Road”

  1. Yoav Says:

    T&P opened a third branch in 193 Wardour street.

    They started roasting their own coffee recently (about two weeks ago) and it’s brilliant.

    You will enjoy every bit of it 🙂

  2. No. 114 is also one of my favourites. A welcome outpost at the end of Tottenham Court Road.


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