Situated on Southampton Row (next to Sicilian Avenue) is Free State Coffee, a recently-opened spacious new independent coffee shop that is well worth a visit.
Unusually, Free State Coffee has taken over shop premises formerly used by the Pret a Manger chain, with a slightly shambolic collection of salvaged furniture replacing the corporate furnishings.
In fact, they’ve gone to the other extreme when it comes to branding, with only an ‘A’ board outside advertising their presence.
Inside, you can find old chairs, mini rows of flip-up cinema seats, various sized desks and tables and even a metal grille from what looks like a school gym.
The cafe has enormous windows and a high roof making it airy and bright – and great for watching the world go by.
If you’d sat here some sixty years ago, you would have just been able to catch a glimpse of the trams disappearing into the Kingsway tunnel outside.
The all-important coffee was very good indeed (they use free trade beans from Union Coffee) and the delightfully coloured green/blue cup was more generous size than many. I approve!
The food looked great too, but was certainly priced at the higher end, with rolls going for up to £5.90.
A staff member gets trained at the Free State Brew Bar, which incorporates a v60 drip filter. Coffee aficionados tend to go a bit mad for them.
With lots of space inside, this feels like a place you can take your time and relax.
Free State Coffee is at 23 Southampton Row, London WC1B 5HA.
See map here.
Follow them on Twitter @FreeStateCoffee