[London] While it can be said that a great coffee shop is enjoyable in its own right – for its feel, its food and indeed, for its coffee – it doesn’t hurt to have a thematic undertone that is both evocative and unique.
Rapha is a road-cycling café, the first ever clubhouse of its kind in London launched 2012.
It is located on Brewer Street near Piccadilly, and is in keeping with all the popular contemporary wood finished décors of cafés these days, while adding an evident yet understated road-cycling aesthetic.
They also show live cycle events on big screens.
This is definitely a place dedicated to the growing cyclist community in London, but is not only to be enjoyed by them.
You do not need to be a cycling fan to have a good time at Rapha.
The café does not have bicycles hanging on the ceilings, helmets like mounted stags on the walls, or bike chains wreathed by the windows, but they do have a framed jersey, a TV with some cycling going on in the background but not much else.
All the cycling gear is kept in the attached bike store.
They have got furniture too that is worthy of comment. Tables with glass tops that look into bottoms filled with curated pieces of cycling history.
The Rapha café do a variety of both conventional and unconventional pastries and cakes.
They include Cardamom Bun (£2.80), Pain Au Raisin (£3.20), and Lemon Pound cake (£3.20).
Though interested in the delightfully glistening medjool date and chocolate balls (£3.00), I went for the even better-looking Carrot Cake (£3.00) that drew my attention with its delicious buttercream icing, moist sponge and the sweet raisins and carrot within.
The Kenyan filter coffee that I ordered took a little while to come, but I didn’t mind waiting.
They were making it fresh, so I knew that the coffee that would eventually come would be worth the delay.
The flavour of the coffee only had a touch of bitterness, was light when poured into a glass, with only the ghost of a strong aftertaste.
Rapha have also got robust Espressos (£2.40), creamy Lattes (£3.40) and Cappuccinos (£3.00), and balanced Long Blacks (£2.50) for those who prefer them.
This coffee shop is large, airy with large windows to let the let light in.
Rapha provides for an experience that is contemplative and relaxing, with the added bonus of an attached bike shop and rich immersive cycling history.
Not many cafés can boast to have the same accoutrements on offer.
Rapha London Soho
85 Brewer Street, Soho, London W1F 9ZN
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 7pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 7pm (Sat), 11am – 5pm (Sun)
Google Maps – Rapha Soho
* Written by DFD’s London Food Correspondent Leander Dias SaltyCritic. Additional photos from @DanielFoodDiary. Leander Dias was born and raised in Dubai, a burgeoning city with diverse food culture. Since moving to London to read for his English MA at UCL, he has utterly immersed himself in the local food scene, writing extensively about everything he eats everywhere he goes. Daniel’s Food Diary pays for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.