One of the perks of this job is walking around London and randomly stumbling across coffee shops I never noticed before. This definitely goes for the place I found today: Grounded, just a stone's throw away from Aldgate East tube station.
Now, I'm going to be completely honest here, like I always am, and will say that I'm not usually around Aldgate East. It's not my most favourable area in London, but one of the shops who I market for is based just around the corner from here so from time to time I do find myself popping in.
I mean, for the fact that Brick Lane is just down the road, and the ever-so-famous London Coffee Festival too, there's surprisingly a minimal amount of coffee shops that little bit further down in Aldgate East. It's ever-so a bit annoying, and it definitely does mean that I'm not here that often.
So when I stumble across somewhere as lovely looking as Grounded, I just have to stick my nose in and try out their coffee.
One of the best things about this place is the service, and to be honest I really wanted to start with that as it really rated high in my latest ventures to coffee shops. In somewhere like Aldgate, I didn't actually expect such a high level of service - it just would seem too fast paced and such for them to really kick back and care like more neighborhood scene coffee shops.
However, as soon as I was in the shop I had a young lady (probably around the same age as me) greet me with a huge friendly smile, immediately making me feel welcome within the place. This same lady went above and beyond for other customers arounnd me (I do love a good nosey into conversations going on) and was very quick with her service.
I proceeded to order a flat white, and it arrived in a very good time at all, with a nice pretty tulip on top. Sure, it wasn't immaculately done, but I liked the slighrly messy look to it. However, I wish I could say that the coffee itself went above and beyond, but it didn't really.
I had set my expectations high, what being relatively close to Brick Lane. However, this coffee was quite bitter, and I really don't think it mixed well with milk and made the creaminess taste slightly sour. I don't want to over-emphasise this however - the coffee was still miles better than either Costa or Pret in the nearby area - the other options I could have opted for in this disastrous weather. Trust me, I wasn't going to walk much further than that! I know that Exmouth Coffee isn't too far from here, so I was surprised to hear that these guys were also stocking the same coffee. I've never actually tried Exmouth Coffee before this visit, so I cannot comment on whether it was the barista or the bean which didn't please me as much as other coffees I've tried in the past, but it's definitely sparked a tad bit of curiosity in me to try out Exmouth Coffee elsewhere.
I'm definitely going to have to come back here at some point to simply check out their amazing Brunch menu they do, as I had unfortunately popped into the previously-mentioned-Pret and eaten a sandwich for my lunch. However, if I'd known about Grounded before I'm pretty sure I would've hit up here instead. From a brief look at the menu whilst I was ordering at the till, all the food seemed very reasonably priced - and by seeing the food brought out to various tables - the price was amazing for the portions you receive.
I don't know if I'd recommend this place just for the coffee - there are some absolute amazing places just further down through Brick Lane if you're looking for the abvsolutely exceptional stuff - however this is definitely a great haven if you find yourself having to make a trip through what is otherwise quite a grey area of London. I'll never rate a place with a large amount of seating, better than average coffee and gorgeous food if it's readily available, so if you're looking for somewhere else to go you could always pop down.