I'm a Londoner and left 10 years ago to live in Barcelona, I come back around 4 times a year to get my fix of this great city which I miss. I was always a coffee fanatic years ago in London as I'm half Spanish and was brought up with a Continental view of coffee culture, something that didn't arrive in London till the mid 90's - I remember my pilgrimage to the first Seattle Coffee in Longacre to get my Tall Skinny Latte - I was so happy! Coffee is now like liquid gold and unlike Barcelona where a good cafe con leche (latte) is available absolutely everywhere, in London it's become silly with everyone thinking they know the best coffee and if it's not made by an Aussie barrista then it's not worth anything. I have been known to walk a mile for a good coffee and at the prices in London for such a beverage I make sure I research first. This is how I came upon Caravan. I know Exmouth Market very well and remember going to Moro's around 15 years ago when it first opened to sample the food I grew up on, it was expensive but good and I see it's still there. The whole market is now full of barrista made coffees and cup cakes, how times have changed.We tried to go to Caravan with some friends on Sunday for coffee and breakfast but the queues were around the block so we went somewhere else. I still wanted to try their "famous" coffee so we went there on a quiet Wednesday morning when the sun was shining, it was very pleasant indeed. It was around 11.30 and we sat outside on benches pub style. There is a price list on the wall for their coffees and I noticed a latte was £2.40, seemed reasonable considering, however if you check further down it says these are take out prices, which is misleading as it's obviously not a take out style place, I saw no-one walking out with take out cups. I asked the waiter for 2 lattes and if he had any croissants, he said the kitchen was closed, which I thought was odd. Anyway, we wanted a bite of something and as we were sitting outside on the pub style benches my partner popped to a bakers to buy us each a croissant. This is something everyone does in Barcelona if the bar has run out, nobody minds at all if you are buying something there. We started to eat out croissants discretely and a waiter rushed out with an angry face to tell us that we were being disrespectful to their establishment by eating food that is not theirs, there was no humour in him at all and he clearly takes himself very seriously indeed, I thought Aussies were famous for their sense of humour, this one had none at all. We explained we were having their coffee and had tried to eat something there but were told the kitchen was closed, he made no apologies for his and we put the food away. However, as it was a lovely and rare sunny day we decided to have two more coffees - no food- which came to £12. I suggest Caravan display their prices on the wall for the coffee had in house and not just take away. They may also want to come to Barcelona to visit a place called Moritz (brewers of the famous Catalan beer) which is 3 mins walk from our flat (trendy area like Clerkenwell or Hoxton), it's uber stylish with a micro brewery and serves food all day. The waiters are dressed in stylish uniforms and it's amazing. The French chef has a Michelin star. We often go there for coffee or breakfast and sit outside on the terrace, their offer before 12.30 is a cafe con leche plus croissant and quality jams for £2 each. Once there were no croissants and we bought some to have with our coffee, the waiters didn't bat an eyelid - shame London cannot have more humour about it's food and the quality of it. I am now truly fed up with these barrista served coffee shops pretending to be this and that, so much so that I now try to find non chain places serving old fashioned food, bacon sandwiches, that kind of thing. We stayed in Chapel Market and discovered a great old timers place called Alpino, smiley service, great food at real prices and surprisingly their cafe latte was almost as good as Caravan's and included with the food, I know where I will be going back to!
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