Paperback Coffee, South Ealing

March 10, 2014

Step inside...

Step inside…

I had never been to Ealing before I made my visit to check out both Paperback and another café that I’ll talk about in my next post. I had driven through, stop-starting my way along the snakelike A406, which winds through parts of the borough before throwing drivers up onto the various roads that leave London. It seemed rather grey, rather dull, lots of houses and not much else to be seen from the road. But then, having heard about a couple of cafés doing great things there, I decided to take the plunge. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that there is more to Ealing than the bits next to the road.

Paperback Coffee is warm, welcoming, and friendly.

It is a pretty new concern, open for less than a month when I went down with Jennifer, but there was already a pleasing fluidity to ordering and getting your stuff. The aesthetic is more local café than artisan poseur, photos and little bon mots dotting the walls rather than exposed brickwork and the like. There is a bring-and-swap bookshelf at the back, I assume a nod to the name, but also quite fun. It is light and open and a bank of seats face the counter and bar, from which the owner was happy to talk and answer questions, something I am always a fan of and especially helpful when somewhere is new. There was a cleat enthusiasm from him and is staff about what they were doing, and a sense of fun too.

The espresso. Note the pretty saucer.

The espresso. Note the pretty saucer.

The coffee was interesting, from an independent roastery called Coffeeplant who have outposts in Portobello and Wembley (I think the sales in the former, the roastery in the latter, but I may be wrong). It was quite a dark roast, which Coffeeplant are producing for Paperback as a bespoke roast, and perhaps because it was only four days old it was still a bit bright. It’s not ideal to serve coffee in that period, though in fairness Paperback were happy to discuss that and explain that, because it was such early days, they were still tinkering with the blend in consultation with the roaster. I like this kind of honesty and also the process of discussion and development of a roast, and so, while the coffee was maybe a touch bitter for me as an espresso, I appreciate what they are trying and the fact they were open to talking about it. As a piccolo, the coffee worked much more successfully anyway, rich and nutty, the darkness softened by a well-stretched blanket of milk. The espresso was £1.70 and the piccolo £2.10. Jennifer was impressed by their use of Canton Teas, a very good producer, up with Postcard Teas in my opinion (maybe just shy of them, but still…). She had a beautiful Jasmine pearl tea that was clear and light and very lovely and priced at £2.50 for a pot. It is always fantastic to see a coffee shop bothering with proper teas and knowing how to brew them; too often, I see artisan cafés skimping on this to the detriment of their overall appeal.

The bar. Chats can be had from here.

The bar. Chats can be had from here.

We also had some food, which I don’t always do, but it looked appetising. Jennifer had a very moist coconut cake, which was delightful, and I got stuck into a pesto, salami, cheddar, and sundried tomato sandwich on ciabatta. It may seem like a small point, but not only was the sandwich tasty, but it was of a decent size and priced much more reasonably than some of the miniscule, ‘artisan’ things you get more centrally, which are an insult to the sensible sandwich eater. There were a couple of other eats available too, including more sandwiches and cakes.

All in all, Paperback was a lovely spot. Unfussy, unpretentious, friendly, and serving a good range of food and drink, it’s the sort of place we felt happy to spend a few unhurried hours reading and writing. It was busy enough to have a gentle hum of things happening, but not so rammed that it was hard to concentrate. Everyone working at Paperback clearly enjoys being there, proud of what they are doing and happy to engage and talk about it. There are one or two edges to knock off where the roast is concerned, in my opinion, but the idea of a new café working directly with an independent roasters to craft something just for their café is something I am a big fan of, and a few bumps along the way are to be expected, especially when the café is new and quantities and so on are still being worked out. It is only a very minor quibble though, set against a very pleasant experience. Given the seeming lack of decent cafés west of Portobello, it is brilliant to see somewhere like Paperback appearing. Long may the further caffeination of Ealing continue!

Paperback Coffee, 153 South Ealing Road, W5 4QP

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2 Responses to “Paperback Coffee, South Ealing”

  1. robroberto1 Says:

    Reblogged this on EmptyCoffeeCup and commented:
    Another for my list to visit.

  2. robroberto1 Says:

    Another for my list to visit.

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