Coming Soon Cafe

Once you get more into coffee, you might start to ask yourself why you can’t choose the coffee beans that go into your flat white. It’s almost always a generic blend chosen by the cafe and there is no chance for you to learn by tasting different beans.

Coming Soon Cafe
You have a choice of single origin beans for your flat white at Coming Soon

The same thought occured to architect Hoi Chi Ng and the itch eventually turned into The Coming Soon Pop-up Cafe in Exhibit Gallery at the Barbican. Hoi Chi is using as many different beans as he can get his hands on. This is a definite journey of discovery for him, but he’s inviting all of us to come on the journey with him.

Coffee

Hoi Chi is the first to admit that he isn’t the best barista in London. In fact, sometimes it feels more like having a friend make you a coffee than a clinical expert. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether this is a good or a bad thing.

On the day that we visited, Coming Soon was serving a Korean roasted Coffee Libre from El Salvador and a single origin from Hasbean. Both were good. Tasting the difference between the two really does help educate your palate. If you go with a friend, then try to share because the differences in tastes can be remarkable. If you want to try another single origin espresso then Flat White in Soho also do a guest espresso.

There is unfortunately a reason that more cafes don’t do single origin espresso (plenty do filter). There is an awful lot involved in running more than one bean option and keeping quality high. You need to dial in the grinder to get the right fineness and then adjust it throughout the day. I’ve been told by other cafe owners it’s hard enough running a consistent blend and a decaf option, let alone maintain quality across another line of beans. The final reason is that purists like Reiss from Londinium think that milk in an espresso kills the subtlety of the flavour, so you may as well just use a blend anyway. Even so, I’m excited that Hoi Chi is giving it a go.

Coming Soon has a lot in common with DunneFrankowski at Protien. Both in terms of pop-up vibe but also in terms of coffee tasting, education and appreciation.

Doing it for yourself

If you’ve ever dreamed of starting your own cafe then you need to visit Coming Soon to see what commitment looks like. Hoi Chi runs the cafe out-of-hours from his day job as an architect. His boss knows about the project and is supportive, so the cafe is open before work, at lunch and afterwork. It’s also open on Saturdays but it’s easy enough to tweet Hoi Chi and check whether he’s in.

Pop up cafe Goswell Road
Hoi Chi started the pop-up cafe as a labour of love

Robert Kiyosaki once said: “The test of how passionate you are about your business idea is not whether you are willing to quit your job to do it, everyone has that dream. The real test is whether you are willing to keep doing your job, put food on the table and hustle for hours before work, at lunch, after-work and make your business a success by sheer determination.” Hoi Chi is proof that commitment to an idea can carry you through.

Atmosphere

Coming Soon has been featured in Le Cool and a very special review by Giulia of MondoMulia with great photos. Hoi’s passion for coffee oozes through everything that he was doing. He designed and coinstructed the counter himself and the cafe is a true labour of love. Coming Soon has a wonderful website and blog.

Hoi Chi Ng
Hoi Chi Ng is pulling manual lever espresso. Not an easy task.

As a pop-up cafe the seating is basic, a couple of stools and a bar. But it’s mostly a weekday affair so most people won’t be lingering. The music and mood are a function of the design store and gallery (that the cafe is housed in) so it’s not quite a perfect cafe experience. But again, that’s not what you’re there for.

Antipodean mafia

For me, Hoi Chi Ng is part of a Fourth Wave of modern coffee in London. This will be a Post-Aussie Mafia era. There are now so many Kiwi and Australian baristas and cafes that I’m willing to make a pilgrime to taste Portuguese, South African, Vietnamese or Korean takes on coffee. St Ali, Allpress, Kaffeine and others have re-created the chilled out vibe of independent Southern Hemisphere cafes so well in London that there isn’t a lot of innovation to be seen, other than doing the same formula better. So maybe it’s time for the rest of the world to bring the best of their coffee culture to London?

5 thoughts on “Coming Soon Cafe”

  1. Thanks so much for linking to my blog post – I am so happy that my post on Coming Soon has had good views, because I think Hoi really deserve success for all his determination and hard work! He’s also so nice and friendly, that’s what makes the experience of going to Coming Soon a good one!

    I am impressed by your knowledge of coffee, so I will start following your blog regularely! 🙂

    ps: I loved the quote by Kiyosaki so looked it up and noticed you mispelled his last name…

  2. More photos to come for sure, as I’m planning to discover all of London’s independent coffee shops and pop-ups! 🙂 I also extended my coffee tour to Stockholm – definitely worth checking that out on my blog, the baristas/roasters in Scandinavia are great!

  3. Think your site is great.. but seriously there are nowhere near enough chilled out New Zealand / Australian style cafes in London. They haven’t even hit West London. This is just the beginning (by the way cannot stand the word antipodean – much like the perception of the outdated term oriental in our view). Of course bring on any new kind of cafe but please don’t knock a good thing that’s barely just begun!!!! You sound like a weary Timeout reviewer with a touch of envy! In my view there still are no better cafes than the friendly relaxed cafes found in New Zealand and across the ditch. Just my opinion and happy to see any country pick up on that!

    1. Good point. They have barely hit West London. I left a freelance gig once because there weren’t enough good cafes in West London. But out here in EC1 we have dozens of them so it’s natural for people to be looking for the next big thing. Would you be interested in doing a guest post on a couple of West London cafes that you like?

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