Best things about my job: keeping my mind busy with all sorts of different projects, and travelling all around the country several days a week. Best thing about travelling for work: having breakfast out before early morning journeys – and being allowed to pick the place, since my colleagues trust my taste in food. When we’re leaving from Liverpool Street, “the place” is Beany Green. And you know what the best thing about Beany Green is? There’s not just one in all of London. Over the past couple of months, I’ve visited three of their cafes, some more than once. And I’ve no intention to stop, as they make good coffee and non-savoury breakfasts like few others. Ready for a fix? Thought so.
1. Beany Green at Broadgate Circle, EC2
There’s a lot to be said about Beany Green’s Broadgate branch, most of which I’ve already shared after attending their opening event earlier this year. Further morning visits, at times when City suits form a beeline to get coffee rather than an inordinate herd to binge on cocktails, confirm my first impressions: the latest addition to the Beany Green family is a bright, joyful, upbeat place, where even getting on with work with the customary and utterly necessary cup of coffee in hand is an uplifting experience.
I’m picky with coffee outside of Italy, and have chickened out of trying Beany Green’s espresso more than once, but their cappuccino has all it takes to set my day off to a great start. It’s a mystery why anyone would insist on visiting the chain coffee shops inside Liverpool Street station, when much better food and drink is such a short walk away. My biggest pleasure is saving a small cup of cappuccino (£2.60 – not the cheapest, let’s face it) for my journey, which sometimes means holding on to it for ten, fifteen minutes, and finding the milk has completely blended with the coffee when I lift the plastic lid. This would normally drive me crazy – I love eating the foam by the spoonful, just like your average eleven-year-old – but Beany Green’s cappuccino works a treat; the balance between coffee and milk is just right, neither hard to digest, nor tasting burnt.
Beany Green’s highlight, however, is their yoghurt, granola and fresh fruit pot, available to eat in or take away. Priced at £5, it’s rather expensive for a morning snack, but the portion is large enough (very large, in fact) and the ingredients fresh enough to soften the blow. The yoghurt has the creamy texture dairy dreams are made of, and the granola is packed with summery flavours; if you like the taste of coconut, you’ll be addicted in no time. Convincing me to have a healthy breakfast when I’m out and about can be a challenge – after all, gorging on buttery bakes is the reason I go out for breakfast in the first place – but if you offer me Beany Green’s yoghurt pot, you’ll have no trouble taking my mind off the dark chocolate brownies calling at me from the counter.
2. Beany Green at Paddington Central, W2
As I headed to a client’s office in Paddington, and the thought I’d be spending the whole day there began to sink in, I knew breakfast at Beany Green was likely to be the sole highlight of my day. So I turned up at their Little Venice cafe one hour before my meeting, firmly intending to make the most of my visit.
At first, I made a rookie mistake: not paying heed to the many reviews claiming the place is hard to find. Heck, I live and work nearby, what more secrets can those streets have to me? At least one, it appeared: the oasis of calm that is Sheldon Square, near the Hammersmith & City line tube exit. I’d grown used to associating Paddington Station with the chaos and gridlocks surrounding Praed Street, but my wander to the other side – to me, the proverbial “road less travelled” – showed me there’s much more to the area: a hub of shiny glass buildings and slick chain eateries, a sort of West London take on City glitz, but less crowded and much quieter. Beany Green is so well hidden in a line of mainstream cafes and restaurants, it took me a good ten minutes to find it. A word of advice: resist the temptation of entering the main square (unless the urge of snapping a picture is that bad), walk further along the canal, turn left after Subway – and you’ll find it right there, its signature coloured deckchairs signalling your search is over.
“Have you been here before?”, asked the lady who served me. As I explained I had only visited the Broadgate cafe, she burst into laughing: “ah, the crazy one!”. It was quite clear what she meant. Forget the loud music and cramped floor: the Paddington cafe is a spacious, quiet haven, with a long counter offering an incredibly broad range of sweet and savoury goodness, and walls covered in colourful pop-art decorations. Even the pace of the queue is more relaxed, and staff members don’t shy away from having a laugh and a chat with customers, as if all were seasoned regulars they enjoy having around. They picked on my indecision between a healthy breakfast (the yoghurt pot, as usual) and a different type of treat before I could begin stammering out apologies for holding them up, and graciously tided me over, recommending their favourites with a warmth I’ve rarely seen before. The coconut bread, which I was trying for the very first time, made me as happy as I’d hoped. Lightly toasted, so it’s crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside at the same time, it’s a match made in heaven with coffee. I’m not sure what people usually have it with – jam, perhaps, or lashings of butter – but I would advise simply eating it on its own, in all its crumbly glory. Breakfast before work can’t get any better.
Beany Green at Little Venice / Paddington Central
Unit 6C, Sheldon Square
London, W2 6EZ
(nearest tube station: Paddington)
Open Monday to Friday, 7.30 – 17.30; Saturday – Sunday, 9.00 – 17.30
020 7289 3344
Wait, there’s more!
Beany Green recently opened a pop-up kiosk outside Euston Station, as part of The Junction street food project. The coffee and food are as worthy of praise as in Broadgate and Paddington, so if you’re travelling to or from Euston, or just having a stroll in the area, make sure you get some while you can. My review is here, on Zomato.