Tottenham Court Road isn't exactly swarming with places that make you want to go "Ooooh, we simply must pop inside!" The mainstream chains with their oversized logos scream for your attention. So it actually took me the greater part of a year to notice the subtle diamond in the rough that is Tapped & Packed, No 114.
London's new breed of stellar coffee shops that are now burgeoning over the capital are essential for anyone with discriminating taste. No 114's espresso changes seasonally, which only makes the place even better. The times I've visited they've served up Has Bean coffee, a roaster favoured by many UK and Irish barista champions. And it's quickly turning into my London roaster of choice. When added with the perfect steamed milk, the espresso finds that harmony of nutty and fruity tastes. I used to scream and shout about Monmouth coffee which I now consider too floral.
Tapped & Packed also serves a variety of single origin coffees for filter, aeropress or even siphon (!) methods. Now that's dedication. Sandwiches and pastries are supplied by Rhodes Bakery and Violet Cakes. I quite enjoyed the blueberry muffin I ordered, along with a, frankly supreme, flat white.
The location is an oasis in this hectic area of the capital. Dark wood furniture, no- nonsense benches to rest yourself on, and wide cone-shaped lights gives you the effect of a hip loft. A neat detail is the self-serve water tap beside the espresso machine: a twisted brass faucet that echoes some resourceful steampunk design. The hot beverages arrive with lovely antique spoons; my last was adorned with a picture of Queen Victoria's profile. Or perhaps it was the Royal Victorian Order? In any case it excited the steampunk fan in me.
Another charming characteristic of the place is the retro stamp cards, picturing a six-seater tandem bicycle. And the stamps are the riders. How unique is that!? These little things, along with friendly service and bloody, brilliant coffee, are what make a place special. I highly recommend it. Obviously☺