Monthly Archives: November 2012


With the number of cafés on Leith Walk one who lives there should feel safe in case of a coffee and food emergency; but last Sunday morning has exposed the flaw of this reasoning… at least since one was looking for a hangover cure before 10am.

Walking towards Leith with my equally needy friend, the first place we found open was Qupi. I have been meaning to visit it for a while now, although I didn’t bet on it as the right place to get some breakfast; also, my friend seemed to have been prejudiced against Turkish food, which would extend over the whole Middle East, I figured, and Qupi – by name and the usual clientele that I had seen sitting by the outside tables seemed to be serving that kind of cuisine (only now after some research I understand it is Greek).

Therefore it came as a surprise to be greeted by some hippy style French (or Greek?) sounding waitress. The indoor was even more striking: bigger than I ever imagined, the café, which looked rather etno-eclectic in the first room, had a back section which looked like a theatre set from an eccentric play: there were mismatched burlesque style chairs, odd tables (one being actually a wooden chest) and over a dozen of hats hanging from the ceiling. My friend seemed a bit weary, but I thought it was an interesting concept that stamped the venue’s originality – even if that was the only thing worth remembering.

Soy Mocha at Qupi

We started by ordering our coffees, gagging for caffeine, and asked for the food when those arrived. My mocha looked suspiciously big, although I had asked for a small one. It didn’t look very appealing either, with a thick layer of foam on top – and my suspicion was proved right after the first sip. The coffee tasted bland, not sweet and not very strong either, with the taste of warm milk overwhelming the beverage. Desperately I added some sugar, but that only made things worse, as it added awkward sweetness to the drink in which the flavours simply didn’t blend. I finished it, however, as I had nothing else to fill my stomach with – our food got delayed, as the girl forgot to put down the order to her friend who was cooking, she admitted all apologetic. We did not receive any form of compensation – taking the coffees off the bill, perhaps? – and although I tend to be understanding in these situations, I wasn’t happy as I saw the girls casually chatting away before our waitress realised her mistake – and after also.

Unfortunately, this place with potential for being a lovely local café has not got the coffee or the staff commitment to meet those expectations. Additionally, if I ever come up with a Hangover-destination Guide to Edinburgh, this one would definitely not make the list.

Small mocha: £2.30 tbc

Verdict justification: Coffee to forget about – might spoil your Sunday, although the staff seem friendly enough

Categories: Edinburgh, Local | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


Visited on Tottenham Court Road

Formerly Tapped and Packed

I was due to leave London with not the best coffee-shop experiences in the bag, but upon realising I was taking a post-midday train I thought I could manage to squeeze in one last cafe visit prior to my departure; I was right.

Although, it was a stressful venture. Not so savvy on the London-tube topic, I took my usual Picaddilly line and, with only ten minutes until my arranged good-bye meeting at Tap, I did not have time to check other connections I had from Leicester Square, so I decided to make my way up to the top of Tottenham Court Road by foot. With a heavy suitcase – on a Saturday. Enough said that the ten minutes to spare turned into ten minutes late; but my companion was still miles away by then, so I had time to catch my breath and have  good look around.

Reflection in the mirror: inside Tap

There was no sign carrying the name of the place to be seen, but I knew I arrived to my destination: the atmosphere of the place was oozing out through the glass walls of the venue; the bicycle over the door would have also given it away if I had done my homework on the spot. Upon entering, I was subconsciously struck by how tiny this place was – yet again, like the Milk Bar (it must be a statement on the London cafe scene of some sorts) and yet, it seemed to allow one enough privacy to go about your business, catching up with friends, hand-writing a novel or creating a spreadsheet on a laptop (all of the above observed during my visit). It was plain and simple, rustic in a way, with a reasonable but not overwhelming choice of foods, two espresso machines and two baristas.

I had been wanting to visit Tapped and Packed from the first time I laid my eyes on the Time Out list, tempted by the promise of a great drip coffee; but after the Monmouth Coffee experience, I was not as impressed by the ceramic-filer-brewing-process as I could have been. Only now, upon recollection, I realise I was expecting lab-like equipment – specifically a siphon coffee maker; either it was hiding somewhere or this particular store didn’t have it… so I didn’t think twice about my order, and asked for a mocha.

Soy Mocha in Tap; Americano in the background

Again, like in the Milk Bar, the coffee got served in a small glass – and likewise, it was divine. The texture was velvety, the sweetness of chocolate and milk blended perfectly with the espresso, effecting in one taste, as opposed to a mix of flavours of the different ingredients on the pallet. The delicate layer of foam stayed on top at least half-way through the drink. The coffee was gone within a couple of minutes…

The only tiny minus was that it tasted only slightly bitter on the espresso side than the absolutely faultless concoction at the Milk Bar. Apart from that, Tap certainly proved to be a haven of calamity in the bustling centre of England’s capital – a rare breed, that also serves great coffee on top of that.

I was glad I rushed to visit this place before returning to Edinburgh. At least it left me with a thirst for more coffee ventures in London.

Until next time.

Mocha: £2.60

Verdict justification: Amazing coffee in the epicentre of the capital – what more is left to say?

Categories: Local, London | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at