Monday, 19 January 2015
It is the grandfather of this third wave coffee malarky, resisting relegation to nostalgia or self-parody, Monmouth continues to champion exceptional coffee with an utterly unflappable dignity. Cast in a more well-resolved mode of post-Victorian attire even than average, the site at Borough is exquisitely suited. Low warm lamps huddle Monmouth devotees, higher up radiant heaters reinforce the temperature - the game here is creating a seamless environment extending all that is ambient, gourmet, buzzing and unpriceably alive from the market into the nooks of this platform for being-in-public-excellently, and there is something lifeaffirming about the lack of glazing. All the rugged fixings carry this same elemental engagement of the senses. Monmouth does the above better than anyone else - the brass taps, enameled tin lamp shades and muchly weathered timbers are invisible here, unironically timeless, accidentally perpetual natural intuitive. Monmouth also achieves the communal table in a way that makes Pain Quot's pale and awkward by comparison. Here I am a guest at a banquet. The effect is electric if perhaps too intimate and yet the self-selecting Monmouth set are here on-display, it is civic theatre and there is a peculiar urban pleasure in basking immersed in the companionship of strangers, osmosing rumours as at a first wave coffee tavern of yesteryear. Finally, there is an infectious barista commeradery, a tangible and unpretentious pleasure in participating in a family of craftspersons. Elsewhere there is craft, but often without warmth. Monmouth is closed on Sundays.. just saying. Magic.