The Kauri Tree is a relatively new boy of the Stoke Newington café scene. There’s very little information available about it, except that it opened in July and is owned by Alex Ross, former owner of Granita and the Spence. It serves Climpson coffee. And, it has a lot of local competition.
Coffee – 3/5
I should have learnt by now that when cafes offer regular or large cappuccinos, 90% of the time it means that all they do is add extra milk to make it large. Which feels like the case here. Underneath the layers of froth and chocolate, though, is a tasty brew from Climpson – another local roaster. It had notes of fruit and caramel but with a bitter edge – though that could have been due to the overly hot milk. The prices for a cappuccino ranges from £1.90 for a regular take out to £2.65 for a large have in.
Atmosphere – 4/5
Kauri is small and cosy with big windows looking out on to the always interesting Church Street. It’s full of wood, exposed brick work and art and has a shared table along one side. However, I don’t feel the inside lives up to the outside. The frontage is excellently designed, fitting in perfectly to the ‘vintage’ surroundings of the area. When you get inside, they’ve tried to replicate this but have not quite succeeded. It’s the little touches like the awful deli display that’s straight out of a Greggs or the cheap looking untreated wood slats that do the rest of the room a dis-service.
Food – 2/4
Again, this is a game of two halves. One the one hand, fitting in with the vintage aesthetic of the front and parts of the interior is a lovely display of freshly made and very tasty baked goods. You can even put them in a branded tote bag. Then, you’ve got the sandwich menu which promises such treats as Egg Mayo, Tuna Mayo and Chicken Mayo. It’s one of the most uninspiring menus I’ve seen in a long time. It’s even more frustrating as they make the bread for the sandwiches in store – it’s just a shame they couldn’t find anything interesting to fill it with.
Service – 2/3
Friendly and fast, they get knocked down a point because a glass from the previous user sat on my table throughout my visit. It’s not rocket science – when you bring over my coffee, take away the other person’s.
Extras – 1/3
As this is a fairly new café, it’s hard to judge any extras. The art on display for sale was interesting and affordable, and you can buy a Kauri-branded tote bag. However, the website is still not up and running, so I couldn’t find any events or other extras.
Summary – 12/20
From the outside and considering the area it’s in, I had high hopes for this place – but it feels like a few niggles are bringing it down. A little less milk in the coffee, a slightly more adventurous sandwich menu, more attention paid to interior finishes and it could have been a great café. Still, it’s new and I’d be happy to come back in six months and see if anything has changed.
178 Church Street,