I’m going to tell you about one of London’s best kept secrets. Well… okay, that may have been the case last week, but I guess I can’t really claim that anymore. White Mulberries recently won London’s Best Coffee Shop in the (seemingly out of the blue) Coffee Stop Awards and has been featured on the Evening Standard and London Live. Awards aside, though, White Mulberries is the kind of coffee shop that was quietly puttering away in their own corner of London, not making much fuss, but doing things very well. It was a hidden gem of a shop, and though those of us that knew about it before may grumble at the potential rush and lack of seats, I won’t begrudge them their newfound fame and increased revenue. It’s still very much a gem, just not so much a hidden one anymore.
One obstacle you have to face when visiting White Mulberries is navigating the potentially confusing maze that it St Katharine’s Docks. It’s ok, I got your back. Let me show you:
Being a Southerner (both in the US and in London), I approached St Katharine’s Docks by walking across Tower Bridge, admiring its beauty in the spring sunshine.
Just over Tower Bridge, you’ll see a set of stairs going down to the riverside, right next to the Guoman Hotel. You’ll be faced with a choice, dear coffee drinking friend – there is a Starbucks right there, staring you in the face. Walk past it to the left, into the dock area, and continue on towards the forest of boat masts.
Follow the path as it curves left, sticking to the water’s edge. Soon enough you’ll be faced with another choice – behold! Another Starbucks. But your iron will shall soon be rewarded, if you continue on but a little further. Cross the bridge just beyond the turret-like cafe and you’ll come to a twee little row of shops and restaurants looking out over the assembly of yachts. Congratulations – you’ve made it past the gatekeepers and passed the test. You’ve found White Mulberries. You have chosen…. wisely.
White Mulberries is the kind of cafe that feels homey the instant you walk into it. From outside, where a smattering of tables and chairs offer waterside coffee-drinking opportunities, you can see that most of the small shop is mostly taken up by their counter with its array of cakes, pastries, cronuts (oh yes), and small savoury offerings. There are a few seats in the window at the front and a few along the lefthand wall, which is currently home to a few pieces from the Coffee Art Project.
Owners Peyman and Rana and their friendly baristas pull their shots on a gorgeous enamel white, 2-group La Marzocco FB80. Their V60 and Aeropress array sits behind them on the counter, quietly waiting and ready in case you decide to try one of their filter coffees. Their grinders, three for the two different espressos and one for decaf, are not labelled with coffee varieties or roaster names that may be unintelligible for non-coffee nerds. Instead, they are helpfully labelled with tasting notes to help you decide which you might want in your coffee.
Noticing all the big, beautifully labelled Koppi bags lining the shelves, I went with that choice for mine and Rob’s lattes. This is a new espresso blend from Koppi called Red Clay, comprising 20% Costa Rica Santa Rosa and 80% Brazil Don Nenem. The resulting drink was a latte where the bold, full-bodied, smooth espresso shone through despite the amount of milk. It had natural sweetness, notes of toffee and almond, and a cheeky boozy, bourbon-like aftertaste. It reminded me of the bourbon caramel latte I had back home in Auburn at Mama Mocha’s, except this was simply the milk and coffee tangoing together in tasty harmony.
The milk is steamed to perfection – not too hot or too cold – and even though we let our lattes sit as we chatted, they never became bubbly. Our lovely latte art stuck around right until the very last sip.
Though this is a shop dedicated to that lovely stuff we call “coffee”, staunch British tea drinks need not fear. They’ve got that down pat as well. “So very English”, indeed.
Whether you’re a coffee or tea drinker, I highly recommend making the pilgrimage to White Mulberries, especially on a sunny spring day like we’ll (hopefully) be seeing a lot more of now.
D3 Ivory House
St Katharine’s Docks
Mon – Fri 7 am – 6 pm
Sat 8 am – 6 pm
Sun 9 am – 6 pm