The duo pulling espressos, James Wise and Will Hilliard, are also the shop’s founders. They’re of the highest pedigree in the specialist coffee business: Will worked at Prufrock, co-founded by former world barista champion Gwilym Davies, and James cut his teeth at the Espresso Room under coffee pioneer Ben Townsend.
Raoul Shah, one of Exposure’s CEOs, befriended the duo when he came across the coffee shop’s self-confessed, tongue in cheek, “confused but not totally unpleasant, sanitised environment.” Exposure has been making brands culturally relevant through the power of its network since 1993 and what better way to cultivate its own in-house culture than by inviting a fresh, relevant entrepreneurial project into the building. Especially one that literally wakes up the workforce.
The guys from Mother’s Milk, in their own words serve, “alright espresso in an already saturated market.” The jokey tag says more about the guys than their coffee – their wry humour and self-deprecation is matched only by the exceptional standard of their coffee.
The two met at Rapha where together they ran the brand’s coffee bar. There they hatched a plan to go on to the next thing – their own coffee shop serving “expertly crafted coffee using the finest beans and state of the art technology in a relaxed environment.” In fact, they borrowed a machine, bought a second hand grinder and pulled in favours from mentors and friends.
As Rapha alumni, the two inevitably made a lot of cyclist friends. Every Tuesday, those friends, some 25 photographers, artists, musicians and more, now have morning coffee at Exposure. Waking up at the crack of dawn relies only so much on the will to ride; these guys need their cup of joe as much as the average office-bound morning zombie.
It didn’t take Mother’s Milk long to reach number one on the London’s Best Coffee app – coffee’s equivalent of The Michelin Guide (sort of). One of the keys to their success? Coffee supplied one of Munich’s foremost roasters, JB Kaffee, who source the best beans from around the world and supply a selection to Mother’s Milk.
For Will and James, the move to Exposure was a logical one – a simple case of supply and demand: a captive audience and ready-made marketplace within the agency.
Mother’s Milk is open in the Exposure Bar (22-23 Little Portland Street W1W 8BU) from 8:30 to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Come down. Cyclist or otherwise.
Coffee price: £2.00 – £3.00