When it comes to cake, there’s no denying that we Londoners are spoilt to pieces! From the absolutely stunning (but slightly overhyped!) cupcakes and layer cakes served up amongst flawless pink and floral décor at some of London’s most “Instagrammable” spots, to tiny little cafes and coffee shops offering tray bakes, loaf cakes and beautifully rustic home-style bakes, London has it all. As possibly my favourite baked item (after cookies!), I’ve probably had more cakes than any other type of food in London, but it’s rare that I walk into a small coffee shop and am truly blown away by their counter! Most coffee shops have a fairly modest offering – with pastries, simple cookies, brownies or (often very sorry looking!) loaf cakes, but to find homemade cakes this impressive is definitely something I sadly rarely ever see in coffee shops around London.
It’s not that I haven’t tried, but I can see why. Of course there are well-known places like Peggy Porschen or Cutter and Squidge who mass-produce cakes, but I see them more as professional cake makers, who make them to order, and while they’re beautiful, I almost miss the irregularity, slight imperfections and spontaneity with regards to flavour and design of more homely looking bakes. I’ve certainly had my fair share of these, but truthfully my favourite type of cakes are those made my little independent coffee shops, by the type of bakers who I like to imagine just wake up and bake whatever they fancy, based on fresh and seasonal ingredients. But for these small independents, who often focus more on coffee, it probably doesn’t make financial sense to pour time, effort and money into producing something stunning when they can batch cook muffins or whip up a basic loaf cake and still charge close to the same price for it! So imagine my delight when I discovered the little gem that is Abuelo Coffee in the heart of Covent Garden and saw this spread of dreams! Just minutes’ walk from the main square this tiny Australian-meets-South-American coffee house and kitchen has the most glorious selection of cakes, with five on offer the first time I went, and not one of them a boring, minimal-effort loaf cake! They combine South American beans with the Australian need for coffee perfection, and serve up the liquid gold alongside a simple but delicious menu and the Aussie-inspired bakes, including cherry ripe and Anzac caramel slices!
There are very few places inside, with a communal table – their interpretation of a home dining room table – and two tiny tables for two their only seating available. Admittedly the service was haphazard and chaotic, but one bite of their glorious cakes and I guarantee you won’t care one bit! I’ve tried their lemon drizzle, coffee and fig jam cake, with the latter being my favourite so far, but I’m excited to go back and try more – and based on my experience so far I won’t be disappointed.
Surprisingly for a café it’s open ‘til late too, and despite serving a very brunch-style menu which features baked eggs, bowls of colourful goodness and toasted sandwiches, you can get them until late, alongside drinks ranging from chai lattes to green smoothies. When it comes to evenings they also have meat and cheese sharing boards, and their glorious cheese and truffle toasted sandwich is available all day! As an alternative to drinks (which I know is the standard post-work social activity!), I’d personally much rather go for coffee and cake, but finding somewhere to go can seem an impossible task sometimes, with many cafes and coffee shops shutting by 5pm or often even earlier – I love that they’re open until 10pm every day and as late as 8.30pm even on a Sunday!
Coffee is a huge focus for them too, where you can get a pour over, or all of your standard espresso-based drinks, with four different blends on offer. It’s clear that as much care goes into their coffee as it does into each and every dish, and with quality this good in such a beautiful location it’s become an absolute favourite of mine already!
Link to their website: https://www.abuelocafe.co.uk