Anyone who works in an office knows the feeling. That mid-afternoon slump, where lunchtime seems like forever ago and the end of the working day feels far beyond your tiring brain's grasp. Try as you might you just can't focus on your work, and the urge to fritter away the rest of the day watching amusing cat videos rises to uncontrollable levels. So you go and make a cup of tea in the office kitchen or bother a co-worker or two, before returning to your desk to try and engage again. But still I often find my mind drifting once more at this time of day. And when that happens, there's only one thing for it - decent coffee. Ok, two things; decent coffee and a breath of fresh air. Oh fine, three things; decent coffee, fresh air, and someone to break out of the office with you.
Two of the three branches of the wood-lined Tapped & Packed are within a ten minute 'Gah! why isn't it Friday yet?' stroll. Slightly further away (with added 'Eurgh, I just can't seem to concentrate today.' moans) is the Antipodean Kaffeine, which makes a gloriously smooth flat white, and where I once had an embarassing moment involving a freshly brewed coffee, a slippery plastic lid and a messy spill that my Accidental Escapee pal has never let me forget. (I still get twitchy around plastic lids when he's watching...something he exploits ruthlessly for his own seemingly never-ending amusement.) Obviously there is also the usual smattering of Neros, Costas and sundry Pret a Mangers nearby as well, but we tend to shun those in favour of the independents who make far better coffee and don't aggressively demand 'You wanna cwa-sante, wiv that?', when if we did we'd have asked for one.
Currently however, we're not finding our afternoon coffee venue of choice such a dilemma. A new player on the London coffee scene has popped up (or rather down) and we are a bit obsessed with it. And only partly because our inner children love the novelty of being able to suggest 'Let's go get a coffee from the toilet!'. Attendant has taken over a disused 19th century public lavatory beneath Foley Street, and transformed it (hopefully with the aid of a hell of a lot of disinfectant) into a surprisingly light and lovely new coffee shop.
Illuminated bulbs and preserved citrus fruit in large mason jars make a jolly backdrop for some seriously tempting looking cakes and biscuits. The friendly staff happily fire up their enormous coffee machine and produce your caffeinated beverage of choice, using super-tasty Caravan coffee from the equally cool Caravan roastery across town. You can take it away (in a paper cup stamped with an 'A' for Attendant), or enjoy a more relaxed coffee and a sandwich where once cisterns hung and Victorian gentlemen, er, yeah...maybe it's better if you don't think too much about what used to go on down here. Just enjoy your thoroughly modern coffee from this secretive little cafe, and make the most of your precious minutes out of the office...