The Fields Beneath, Prince of Wales Rd NW5

December 17, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a coffee cart on Bridge Approach. This little conduit to Primrose Hill from Chalk Farm was a lovely spot to sit and relax and the coffee was good. And then, it was no more. Owner Gavin was forced to up sticks and move, the victim of rent increases and, perhaps, other forces which I won’t go into here. How glorious, then, to find Gavin back, and ensconced in the salubrious settings of the railway arches next to Kentish Town West overground with The Fields Beneath.

The Fields Beneath is The Fields Beneathnamed after a history of Kentish Town, and it’s very clear from spending fifteen minutes in this small, warm space, that Gavin is already well-established within the community of Kentish. The number of commuters getting on or off the train who pass through is an immediate clue as to the impactive quality of the coffee and the baristas (it was particularly nice to see Aviv again, who I know from Coffee Circus and Vagabond, now working there). I also heard numerous comments showing that customers were coming back for things a second or third time, asking after the baked goods which Gavin’s mum produces for the café, and engaging with Gavin in that relaxed, conversational way which suggests loyalty and enjoyment.

The coffee was from Roundhill Roastery, a roast from the Rwandan Musasa cooperative which is also beloved of Hasbean, which has a light, citrusy zing to it. There are gentle slivers of lemon in the espresso, which also gave me a clean, fruity mouth-feel and a useful kick (I had to get up early to get there before work, but fortunately FB is open from 0730 to catch the early-bird railway-goers). The baristas use naked portafilters which leave a gloriously thick crema, dappled and reddy, and make for a fabulous shot of coffee. They also reduce cleaning, which Gavin likes, but I’m keener for the first reason. The macchiato was similarly good, with a sweet and soft texture, the milk settling pleasingly through the shot and augmenting, rather than smoothering, the fruity notes of the shot. This is an excellent roast, excellently handled. Both drinks are priced at a standard £2, and you won’t be disappointed.

Fields BeneathThe venue is, as I’ve said above, fairly intimate. There is some work to be done, by Gavin’s own admission, but this venue has only been open a month, and it’s been developed from scratch, so any minor issues with layout are totally forgiven. The space is intriguing, being as it is under a railway arch, and, 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 Beneath is well set to establish itself as the place to go in this area, boasting as it does a mixture of coffee know-how, useful location, and awesome croissants and granola (going off customer comments, not personal experience).

All of which is great to see. Gavin is a lovely, enthusiastic coffee man to his boots. The independent coffee market is a robust but, at times, unforgiving, place, and the way that Primrose Hill lost Gavin’s coffee could well have left a sour taste in the mouth. Instead, Gavin has come back stronger and opened a really excellent café, planting the seeds for a business in an area which is clearly delighted to have him. The addition of Aviv as a barista only confirms my sense that the roots put down by The Fields Beneath are about coffee and community, about bringing something developed and made with care and knowledge and sharing it enthusiastically. The fact that Gavin’s mum contributes so much to the business is indicative of his approach, and he is also looking to source other food products from local businesses.

At its best, independent coffee is about just this. It’s a place to go and buy good coffee, yes, but it’s also a place to meet, to chat, to share a love of something and use that love to facilitate other interactions, other opportunities. As I’ve said many times before, the best enterprises grow organically because their quality speaks for them, and allows them to bed into an area, to develop relationships with customers, other coffee places, reviewers, and so on. I’m not naive enough to think it’s not about profit too; why open a business otherwise, right? The point is that profit comes with quality. People respond to good coffee and good people, develop a relationship with them which goes beyond simply the exchange of money for goods. In my opinion, The Fields Beneath will flourish for just this reason. And it deserves to.

The Fields Beneath, Kentish Town Overground, Prince of Wales Road, Nw5

Twitter: @FieldsBeneath


4 Responses to “The Fields Beneath, Prince of Wales Rd NW5”

  1. Yoav Says:

    Was it the ‘Sandwich & Spoon’ in Primrose Hill?

  2. I finally made it! And it’s as wonderful as you say it is 🙂 (not that I ever doubted you!)


  3. […] can also see what my fellow coffee-bloggers, Liquidjolt, Who’s For A Brew? and Faerietale Foodie made of the […]

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