Oh, January. I'm dieting like most all human beings on Earth, and so far it's going well. I've cut out candy (boo) chocolate (hiss) and fatty meals (scream). Basically, I'm eating soup & oatmeal. I'm sort of taking the attitude that my jaw has been broken, and I can't have anything besides liquid. What do people who aren't gluttonous creeps eat daily, anyway? All I ever manage to think of is soup.
Luckily chai lattes don't require chewing, and even though I know calorie-wise they're not particularly low, I'm getting small ones and it is my one treat every couple of days. So sue me.
I've tried a lot of the chain coffee shop ones already, but I was looking forward to testing a couple from other spots around East London where I work. I'll continue trying new ones, but here are a couple from some great stops around Old Street. Not all coffee shops do chai lattes - for instance I don't think they do them at Shoreditch Grind - but I'll be reviewing the ones that do until I can eat food again.
Fix Coffee, Whitecross St - No picture, but it was a charmingly plain white cup with the word 'Chai' written on it. Nothing much to say about the visuals, but what does that matter with a drink I'm just going to splat a lid on and suck down within minutes anyway?
The texture for Fix's chai latte was superb. Smooth and velvety, without much foamy milk. I like the foamy milk, don't get me wrong, but when you're getting small lattes you really want to feel like it's a drink and not just the leftover fuzz of a milkshake. Flavor wise it was more sweet than spicy, which was surprising considering it wasn't labelled as a 'vanilla' chai. I really loved it though! Since it was so smooth & thick, it felt particularly 'indulgent' and made me feel more guilty than usual about drinking so much sugar-infused tea milk while I am supposed to be dieting. Hey, the weight is coming off.
Fix itself had a really nice vibe, a good mix of people & very friendly staff. I just did takeaway, but I appreciate a coffee shop where I don't feel underdressed or otherwise lame. I'm sure Fix has great coffee, and if I can get there in the morning I might try an actual latte latte. Also worth noting that they had frappe-type drinks (both coffee and non-coffee) iced drinks, and lots of pastries (including a possible Rinkoff crodough sighting!). I'll be coming back to Fix, and I'm really looking forward to not being on my diet anymore so I can try some of the baked goods and a Count Chocula drink...whatever it is. I support all of the good Count's endeavors & forms.
Ozone - I really like Ozone - always very busy with all kinds of people sitting around, and really friendly service. This is the chai latte I get most frequently. There are two varieties, spicy and vanilla. The vanilla is delicately sweet with a sort of custard-y vanilla taste. The spicy is just that - spicy. Doesn't seem any more spicy than the vanilla, just less sweet. Nice, but I've got a sweet tooth so I often go with the added sugar of the vanilla.
The texture is a bit foamier than Fix, so it goes much quicker - but the taste is nicer - slightly more complex than Fix, and not as sweet.
You'll notice that the drinks are served in smaller cups at Ozone than they are at some other independent coffee shops - and certainly tiny compared to massive Starbucks & Costa cups - but I've never found this to be much of a problem. There is only one size advertised at Ozone, and while I'm certain I've seen people request bigger takeaway cups I've never asked myself.
The food at Ozone is also quite good, with baked stuff up by the counter that is constantly laughing at me now that I'm dieting. Before, we were good friends. The brownies are really, really good & all the cakes and croissants are top drawer.
On top of all their coffee and baked goods, Ozone serves lunch & big hot breakfasts. I came here for my work birthday lunch and had a order of fries and a banana milkshake (hey, it was my birthday) and it was delicious. Mid-thick shake, so still slurpable through a straw, and crisp-outside soft-inside salty fries. Some of the nicest fries I've had since moving to the UK, and they even boxed the rest up for me.
I'm a huge fan of both of these places, and I'm glad to still be able to indulge in a sweet drink in the morning. Do you have any suggestions for places to get great chai lattes?