Allpress Espresso, Shoreditch
58 Redchurch Street
020 7749 1780
by Johnny Cep
I first spied Allpress Espresso from Arnold Circus, an area I liked to circle on my bike when I had one, in 2011. It’s halfway down Redchurch Street and, bar the advertising on the after-hours shutter, appears to be a discreet, knowing and un-Antipodean fixture, oddly enough given that it is in fact of Kiwi origin.
Originally an espresso company set up by Michael Allpress (real name!) in New Zealand, Allpress moved to Shoreditch in 2010 and has since proved monumentally popular, providing most of the restaurants within spitting distance with its beans pre-roasted in the massive machine in the back room which, through the glass, reminds you of those working museums you visited in coaches at school.
As to whether it’s a café or a shop, it’s still undecided. People like its wholesale vibes, slightly under-varnished wooden floor and coffee, ergo, they arrive in droves. Foodwise, they do a good line in ambitious, well-filled sandwiches which require two hands, but the breakfast is much less of a gamble: tidy pastries, granola, yoghurt and compote, or toast which comes with eggs and smoked salmon, salted butter and marmalade or avocado, sliced cheese, tomatoes and a boiled egg, all of which are excellent to boot, even by the standards of London’s modish crush on soda bread.
I went with Dan who had the soda bread, toasted, while I had two soft-boiled eggs. This was a dicey move. I once had soft-boiled eggs at The Wolseley which were underboiled by circa 70 seconds. My two cracked (read: checked) soft-boiled eggs with pre-buttered soldiers here, however, were terrific and pillow-soft. Too much toast for the egg, sure, but I stole Dan’s marmalade, served jazzily in a shot glass, and showed the eggs what’s what.
Just as our plates were being cleared, in walked Ralph Fiennes complete with Young Vic beard, iPhone and massive rucksack. He sat down, nebbishly ordered then par-consumed the avocado, cheese and egg plate. I was going to ask him what he had in his massive rucksack until Dan delivered the crushing reality that I didn’t know him. Bothered, I decided to play with the tap-water-dispenser instead, a novel toy with a push-down button and a tray to catch spillages, and managed to spill my glass on the bar.
There are many, many good things about Allpress Espresso. Chief among them is the coffee. I had a white-long-black which sounds like a dress code but is in fact Kiwi vernacular for an Americano-style coffee which allows you to curate your own water and hot milk. The beans are clean-tasting and sweet compared to Monmouth Coffee which, I feel, burns theirs on occasion. I realise saying this aloud is tantamount to racism but there you go. Other plus points: the doors, which bend open and are deeply cool, and the lack of queue. Clientele move apace thanks to the staff - charming, big teeth – although they take their sweet time to clear the dirties.
Sadly, Allpress also attracts a lot of Media Meetings. The day we decided to go, fair-isle reached critical mass, but those undesirables soon finished their drinks and left, presumably to draw some lines or whatever, leaving us – Ralph, Dan and I - to finish our perfect eggs in peace.