For the New Englander visiting Olde England, there is perhaps nowhere more important to go than Dunkin Donuts. One would think that the coffee corporation taking America by storm would be on every corner in London, but in contrast to Starbucks’ success abroad there is only a single brick-and-mortar store devoted to serving coffee that the most liberal of reviewers would deem “highly drinkable.”
The shop is located on Baker Street — yes, that Baker Street — which is host to a number of chain restaurants and knickknack shops. It is a very touristy area, into which Dunkin fits very well.
Entering Dunkin, a person would have trouble differentiating this from a run-of-the-mill American gas station location — pink walls, orange accents and a glass display case — save two distinguishing features. The first is that gas station shops generally have more space, and the second is that the poster hanging on the wall shows a mug in front of a deerstalker hat and a pipe.
The menu is a bit pared down compared to the extraordinary offerings of the Dunkins located around the northeastern United States. The only baked goods available are donuts, which it must be said are perhaps even better in London than the ones on the other side of the pond. It is ironic that it was in a shop so close to Madame Tussauds that I finally had a Dunkin Donuts donut that was not vaguely reminiscent of wax.
One of the benefits of visiting this Dunkin instead of a local chain, such as Costa Coffee or Caffè Nero, is that it is one of the only times I have seen the actual word “coffee” on a menu since arriving in England. Whereas most other places only offer fancier-sounding drinks such as Americanos and Cappuccinos, the New England chain provides a nice return to basics. That said, the coffee tasted mostly like milky water with perhaps a hint of coffee flavor. I probably should have realized this would happen when no one else in the store was ordering coffee. But there’s really no telling if it is better or worse than any other Dunkin Donuts store, however, because getting coffee at any of their locations is a gamble.
The British Dunkin Donuts provides a somewhat cheap breakfast with two donuts and a medium coffee for £3.69, but that is not the reason someone walks three miles to visit it. For any traveler who may be away from home for a few weeks and is starting to feel the slightest pangs of homesickness, this shop provides a little taste of home. Even if it’s not a very good taste.
Email Thomas Devlin at [email protected]