Monmouth Coffee is some of the best I've had in London. It's strong, but not in that I got burnt in the roaster type of way. They also use full-fat jersey milk - can't start an order with a skim-this or a skinny-that! I almost always go to their Covent Garden location as its just a few minutes walk from my apartment - though they have other London locations.
Monmouth Coffee roasts coffee from single farms, estates, and cooperatives. They travel the world to find the best and follow the coffee from bean to cup. They also make it their business to know everyone and everything involved with those beans. The staff is super-friendly and laid-back - this is a must for me because its often my first interaction with the public pre-coffee.
I love the cobblestone street its on, the little potted plants up top, and the nearby shops. Today I ventured a few blocks further to the Covent Garden Market area where they have recently welcomed a new member, Ella's Bakehouse. A few weeks ago I posted on a No-Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake that I found in one of London's local papers. Lorraine Pascale, founder of Ella's Bakehouse, provided the recipe and I quite liked the ease and taste of the cheesecake. So I thought a visit to her cupcake shop was a must.
The cupcake craze of the States - I've made trips to NYC for Magnolia and to LA for Sprinkles, as well as frequenting Kara's in San Francisco - has definitely made the jump over the Atlantic. While the London counterparts, Primrose and Hummingbird, don't stand a chance in a cupcake contest, I had high hopes for Ella's. I found Primrose cupcakes to be hard as hockey pucks and little interest in the flavor department. Hummingbird's cupcakes are good and I love the American-inspired flavors. Though I find some of their other bakery contributions to outshine their famous cupcakes.
So how does Ella's compare?
Hands down the best Red Velvet Cupcake I've had in London. I gobbled it up - don't worry summer bikini, I ate a mini-Ella's Red Velvet Cupcake AND it uses some half-fat ingredients. Pleasantly and surprisingly it didn't taste like half-fat. It was moist and had the perfect cream-cheese frosting to cupcake ratio. It also wasn't heavily glittered like some of its friends in the cupcake case.
I also tried the chocolate and vanilla in mini-form as well. Chocolate was decent but unmemorable. The vanilla was really dry in a way that I suspect it was sitting in the case all day yesterday and hoped to be sold today. It was - to me. My friend got a Lemon-Raspberry cupcake that was great and a Peanut Butter cupcake was moist, but the flavor just didn't hit the mark with me. So, I'm absolutely going back for some Red Velvet and Lemon-Raspberry, but probably need some convincing to go for any of the others.