Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’m a sucker for a festive drink. Starbucks is now as much a part of my Christmas experience as the classic ‘Christmas Carol’ scene is to…well, everyone, ever. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I can have a Ginger Nut Latte, with the same high-calorie sweet treats I’ve had all year, which suddenly taste even better because I’m generally in better spirits.

But what is this I hear? A Halloween drink? Yes, for the first year ever, the UK is being graced with the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which my U.S. friends (and well travelled, smug UK friends) tell me has been a staple in the American Starbucks for years.

Well hello already! Why is this such a good thing? It’s good because the UK isn’t big into Halloween like the U.S, but it really should be. Also, our winter begins on 1st September, if not before, and it is bitter cold. We don’t just like having hot sugary drinks long before December, we physically need them to survive. And, after having the greatest summer ever in London, we now have nothing to look forward to until Christmas. We need something in which to drown our autumnal sorrows. I like the word autumnal. And I like the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Euphorium Bakery (Islington)

Euphorium is a delightful bakery/cafe chain in London. This week I visited the branch in Angel, Islington. It is one of the more inviting establishments on Upper Street – well worth the short walk from Angel tube which boasts three Starbucks (like emergency points on the motorway for people who can go no further). The staff are instantly friendly, and a sign behind them proudly boasts that ‘We give you the smell of freshly baked bread for free.’ They even have baskets of samples on the counter for you to enjoy whilst perusing their menus. From the very beginning, I felt I was on to a winner.

The cafe is split level, so what appears to be a counter/bar with a few tables is really only the first floor, with a more comfortable, open plan space just down some stairs at the back. It’s just the right amount of seclusion from the busy street outside without feeling like you’re underground. Here you can enjoy armchairs and sofas for relaxed socialising as well as tables and chairs for more formal meetings. Free newspapers and Wi-Fi, however standard, do make the experience that bit more pleasurable. The decor is somewhat undefinable but charismatic; the bare brick walls are chalked with various quotes about food, and the area is centred upon a fireplace filled with logs. 

Euphorium prides itself on being the best of British baking, a point which I’m assuming is being emphasised by the various Union Jacks which are lazily scattered around. Made with the freshest sourced ingredients, the menu boasts an impressive selection of breads, baguettes, bagels and focccia. They have a special menu of select ‘Inspired Salads’, which are regularly changed, all for the agreeable price of £4.90. Examples include smoked mackerel, parma ham and full English (just to name a few).

My primary criticism would be that perhaps the cafe element of Euphorium is a little expensive, with a regular Americano costing £2.40. A basic croissant costs £2.10 and the average pastry or tart is close to £4. Whilst I regard this to be generally expensive, I do refrain from using the word over-priced: if you care for good baking, you won’t mind paying this money. All in all, make Eurphorium part of your next trip to Angel.

Euphorium has branches in Islington, Belsize Park, Chapel Market and Hampstead. Find out more on http://www.euphoriumbakery.com