I’d never heard of Harris & Hoole, but apparently they’re a big chain; or at least, big enough to have a loyalty card scheme based on an app.
This was to be a new experience for us: our first ‘take away’ review of a coffee shop.
The coffee shop was delightful. Large windows that opened up entirely to provide a good, refreshing amount of ventilation whilst we waited in a very long queue.
It had a warehouse-chic aesthetic, complete with Chesterfield-style sofas and funky light-bulbs. Were we living in our own flat, we could have used this shop as design inspiration for our living room.
The ordering process
The staff were very friendly – perhaps too friendly – but then, they were probably trying to smooth-over the inexplicably long waiting time to be served.
We selected our coffees – 2 large flat whites to go – and our sandwiches too. I chose a ham hock with mozzarella sandwich, and David had aubergine and halloumi. (I wanted that one, but he got there first)
Unlike many chain coffee shops, Harris & Hoole seemed to take a lot of care over their preparation of their coffee. Each coffee was seemingly prepared with its own milk in a clean jug, something that at least gives the illusion that you’re getting the right amount of froth in your milk and that it isn’t repeatedly steamed (and thus ruined).
Once we had actually ordered, we were pretty speedily out the door.
Things went a bit off the rails at this point; partly through our own lack of hand-eye-coordination, and partly because of quality.
We couldn’t unwrap our sandwich to eat it and hold the coffee at the same time: it is a simple fact that humans need a third arm for situations like this.
No matter, we focused on coffee and waited a bit to have the sandwich.
The coffee was then found to be fairly tepid. I don’t like hot coffee (I always end up burning my mouth), but it’s as though this milk had only been flashed with steam, rather than given the due attention.
As for the flavour, it was entirely overpowered by the milk, due to a lack of distinctiveness, and a pleasant but uneventful sweetness. Basically, it was a bit of a disappointment.
The sandwiches on the other hand, were brilliant. There was a perfect ratio of bread-to-filling (specifically, more filling, and less bread). The flavours were pronounced and generally, we bloody loved it.
This was a rollercoaster experience. Logistically, coffee and sandwiches on the go are a nightmare (lesson learnt). The coffee in this instance was a let down, but Harris & Hoole’s sandwiches, despite the hefty price tag, were delicious.