April 12 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
London’s Australian and Kiwi cafés have, over the past few years, radically changed the capital’s coffee culture. The rooms are one thing (invariably bare wood and industrial), but it’s the art of their baristas, working patterns into caffeinated foam, that adds such an element of pleasure to a relatively simple beverage.
Caravan, which opened a couple of months ago on Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell, is far more than just a place to get a double shot in style – it’s the first place in the UK to really get a handle on the uniquely sunny and urbane southern-hemisphere brunch experience (there’s coconut bread and baked eggs in Greek yogurt alongside the fry-ups), and, since visiting a couple of months ago, not a weekend has gone by without me calling by for a plate of something wonderful, always with a side order of spicy chorizo. If anything, I think it’s better than Bills in Sydney, which does this kind of thing very well indeed.
But for me, it’s the coffee at Caravan that’s the main event. Caravan roasts on the premises, and while their flat whites are solid and strong, and their lattes are among the richest and smoothest in the city (with a lovely heart-shaped swirl on the surface), their mocha (first picture) is the pièce de résistance: dense and chocolatey, it comes with the most arresting floral, fractal, web-like barista-flourish on the top. This is surely one of the prettiest, and most indulgent, drinks in London.
Brunch from £4.80. Coffee: £1.60-£2.80.