A reddish-brunette with tightly swept back hair sits dead centre on the long leather bench. NO, this is not about chattin her up! Her one hand holds a red felt pen. With the other, she balances her cup of double espresso and a packet of A4 editorial images. Occasionally, her left eyebrow slightly arches before the red point darts in to slash away at the A4; it’s with the fluid and practiced air of a…red-pen-holder, representing authority with a comfortable grip.

Her white blouse, a tweed jacket with an unusually high collar popped up, grey wool trousers tucked into knee high leather riding boots, a Burberry scarf swirled around her shoulders, and a thin Mulberry attaché, give all indication that she associates in Soho’s fashion-based professional realm.

“Coffee break” in London does not necessarily mean a break at all.

But a backtrack to the origins of London coffeehouses in the 17th century, would never have seen the presence of respectable women suffering the indecency of being caught sitting at such an establishment. 1652 is the year to be exact when a Greek by the name of Pasqua Roseé, who acquired a liking to the substance while serving a merchant in Turkey, opened up London’s first coffee house on St. Michael’s Alley (Cornhill).

The newfangled drink, an overnight success for Mr. Roseé, was sold as a cure to drunkenness and lust. And even better, twas a catalyst for sophisticated intelligence and business. Not much has changed in that respect… But back to the ladies. The reason for la résistance des femmes was this: coffee was noted to transform their industrious well-muscled husbands, earning their wages through earnest labour, into idle coffee-sipping prattlers of politics, philosophy, literature, science, theory…

Ultimately, Roseé had invented “the hipster.”

A March 2012 article in the Telegraph gives us an insight into the topical characteristics of coffee houses: The walls of Don Saltero’s Chelsea coffeehouse were adorned with exotic taxidermy, a talking point for local gentlemen scientists; at Lunt’s in Clerkenwell Green, patrons could sip coffee, have a haircut and enjoy a fiery lecture on the abolition of slavery given by its barber-proprietor; at Moll King’s, a near neighbour of Button’s in Covent Garden, libertines could sober up after a long night of drinking and browse a directory of prostitutes…There was even a floating coffeehouse, the Folly of the Thames, moored outside Somerset House…

Back in 2013, the majority of coffee houses across London have sadly lost their independent essence. Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero…identically furnished and painted, all serving the same identically burned character-less coffees, these are the contemporary hangouts for tailored suits, nut hugger jeans, or loud neon sneakers. But one by one, anarchists – actually they’re mostly Aussies – are recorrecting London’s coffee drinking culture. The setting above observing the brunette, is one such place owned by Melbournians roasting their own coffee beans: NUDE Espresso.

The Nude Espresso London Roastery, boasting a 15kg Toper roaster as the heart of their production, is in the old cooperage yard of the Truman Brewery off Brick Lane. But their West End location, on the Northeast corner of Soho Square, is a small cozy place, apparently prime for red-marking fashion editorials and talking design. I could myself be accused of sitting with a finely balanced cappuccino and planning MBFW Berlin shows with London-based Fashion Editor Minnie Seibt. For GabrielDesigns, a definite addition to the list of regular coffee stops for the London list.