Our caffeine-fuelled quest to find the best coffee shops in London.
Sounding like a rejected title for the fictional government entity in The Thick of It, the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is one of many coffee shops to have sprung up along Leather Lane in Holborn over the past couple of years. It's only a matter of time before some enterprising councillor rebrands it as London's 'coffee mile'.
From the elegantly arranged platters of sandwich and pastry, to the finesse of the menu and the arty photography hung on the walls, DCSA is clearly a labour of love. That extends to the coffee, too. Aficionados will be pleased to know that this is an Antipodean-run establishment, with the attention to the craft that such provenance usually entails. Coffee from Climpson & Sons is on hand, while a rolling roster of guest espressos mean repeat visitors get a palate-widening range of flavours to try; on our visit we enjoyed an Ethiopia Sidamo blend.
As you might expect for a cafe housed in a former ironmongers, DCSA's interior is all exposed brick and wooden floors, with a row of three-legged Alvar Aalto stools lined up at the broad window that looks out onto the market. There's also a meeting room out the back which can be hired at hourly and daily rates.
Though this series is ostensibly about the coffee, it'd be remiss not to mention the enormous sandwiches and pastries on offer. Easily enough to keep you going through one of those endless governmental pow-wows, although one suspects that if the DCSA ever gets itself a cabinet position around the Number 10 table, life in Britain might just be that more liveable.
See previous reviews in the series on the London Blend Map.