When you think you've seen it all in London, the city has an uncanny ability to surprise you with something new. You might think that when it comes to coffee shops, you've "been there, done that" (after all, there's a Costa on practically every corner, including right here in Marylebone), but we can confidently assert that you haven't.
Take Saint Espresso, for instance, a coffee shop right here in the heart of Marylebone. Despite looking like a regular coffee shop from the outside, from the moment you walk through the door, you feel transported to another world.
Saint Espresso first began offering coffee at its sister cafe, Leyas on Camden high street in 2011. Soon, the business was a success, thanks to its appeal to the area's unique demographics. The shop became a local hub and provided the owners with enough money to open a second and then a third location in both nearby Kentish town and Angel, Islington.
Saint Espresso's formula for success is simple. It wanted to avoid the generic, somewhat impersonal service of the major chains and provide patrons with excellent coffee in a relaxing and attractive setting. All the baristas are highly trained and utterly dedicated to their work. You can feel the difference as soon as you walk through the front door. Somehow Saint Espresso has managed to find people who love fresh coffee and want to share the cafe experience with others. It has to be experienced to be believed.
Saint Espresso is also on something of a mission to make coffee houses local again. While it now has four locations, you couldn't exactly describe it as a chain as such: it's clear that the cafe wants to reflect the local communities it serves. The shop offers the kind of personal service you're unlikely to find if you go to one of the better-known brands.
Saint Espresso's fourth location is close to our offices in Marylebone and has become a favourite of our team. We love the beautiful surroundings, the attention to detail, and the cosy atmosphere. When you walk into a Saint Espresso, you immediately feel as if you have escaped the noise and chaos of London and have entered a serene space where you can unwind from a hectic morning.
It would be wrong, however, to think that Saint Espresso is all about mood and atmosphere; it's also about the quality of the beans. The company doesn't make much of a song and dance about its coffee instore, but if you go digging on its website, it soon becomes clear that it goes to extraordinary lengths to secure quality beans. The company works directly with a range of green bean importers across Europe to get hold of specialists coffees and follows the supply chain back to the original farm to ensure best practice. The cafe then checks every batch of coffee it roasts in-house before dumping it in its coffee machine hoppers.
To say that enjoying a coffee in Saint Espresso is a spiritual experience would be a little over the top. But there's no denying that it is a special place for Londoners.