Venturing out in Clerkenwell during my lunch break some months ago, I discovered Leather Lane, home to a week-day clothes' market as well as eateries and cafés that are always busy with the local office workers' crowd.
You might have been there to visit Prufrock Coffee, but you really missed out if you haven't also tried the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. When in need of coffee and a cool place to hang out during my lunch break, that's my destition of choice.
Co-owners Chris McKie and Tim Ridley, who opened DCSA about one year ago, are part of Coffeesmiths, a collective that aims to serve "distinctive, quality coffees to London’s discerning coffee drinkers in a friendly and social environment". I think so far they definitely nailed it!
What I loved about DCSA, from the first time I visited it last summer, were the big smile and friendly welcome from Chris and the rest of the staff. Sun was shining through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the shop, a former ironmongers renovated to become not only a coffee house, but also a space for artists and photographers to exhibit. After that first time, I have become a regular customer at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs and try to visit as often as I can (despite it being 10-15' walk from my office).
I never drink cappuccino or latte at lunch time (I am fairly sure I could be stripped off of my Italian citizenship if I dared drink a cappuccino after a meal!) so my coffee of choice is the espresso. I have always found the espresso at DCSA to be a bit too bitter for my likings and I do need some milk to counter balance that. I have now found the perfect drink for me, the Piccolo. It's the same thing as a cortado (both names mean the same thing in Italian and Spanish), an espresso served in a shot glass filled with steamed milk. The difference between a piccolo and a macchiato is glass versus cup + the amount of milk used.
The piccolo also allows for "latte art", which is not a small thing as I always appreciate a little flower or heart to put a smile on my face! :)
At DCSA you will also find delicious cakes - not to miss the Chocolate Cheese Brownie! I haven't tried the sandwiches yet, but they do seem to sell fast, so I am sure they are worth trying!
The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is in 14-16 Leather Lane, London EC1N 7SU. You can also follow it on Twitter for offers and updates.