Bar Termini, London: coffee bar review

Our review of Bar Termini on Old Compton Street, a new coffee bar headed up by coffee expert Marco Arrigo and famed cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro. Expert quality coffee and cocktails, and remember to try a 'bicherin' - the classic Turinese chocolate and coffee hybrid - if you can handle the indulgence.

It’s an appropriate name, Bar Termini; it serves the last word in Italian coffee. Actually named after Rome’s main train station, and the area surrounding it, it’s an idealised Italian coffee bar as one such might have been (had it been ludicrously perfect) in the 1950s. No small factor in its perfection is that one of its founders, Marco Arrigo, is a leading expert in coffee, who has spent 20 years working as head of quality for classic Italian coffee brand Illy. Another is Tony Conigliaro, sometime olive contributor and famed cocktail maestro, whose influence on the UK’s cocktail scene has been inestimable.


The coffees and cocktails are, therefore, classics, quietly, masterfully, reinvented, all part of a menu that’s a masterclass in brevity. There are four coffees – espresso al bar, for £1, is a 10g coffee (3g more than is traditional) comes in a glass, and is for consuming quickly (idealised 1950’s Italian bars don’t do take-away). Espresso al tavola, on the other hand is to be taken at leisure, basically a triple espresso of 21g, but made to a different recipe than the al bar, and served in a cup. The bianco is, in Marco’s words, ‘an Italian answer to the flat white, basically an exaggerated macchiato.’ And then there is the café latte; the steamed milk and espresso are served separately, for the customer to combine themselves, which has led to an unofficial latte art competition developing among the bar’s regulars.

Bar Termini serves an incredible chocolato, and bicherin, the classic Turinese chocolate and coffee hybrid, made with the Arrigo touch – espresso is made almost an oil, which, when when apparently mixed with the thick chocolate, remains separate in the mouth in both texture and flavour.

This is coffee making of the highest order – perhaps unsurprisingly – Marco founded the University of Coffee in Islington, and has trained thousands of baristas in the UK and Europe, and, unconvinced by the hype of the UKs current coffee revolution, is here showing just how perfect Italian coffee can be.  To this end, he’ll be holding Consumer Coffee Masterclasses at Bar Termini on Saturday 25 April from 10.30am – noon and  Sunday 3 May from 10.30am – noon as part of The London Coffee Festival. Spaces are free but must be reserved by emailing drinks@bar-termini.com

Images taken by Addie Chinn


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