What’s a girl to do upon discovering a distaste for the most mood-boosting treat around? Open an entire haven dedicated to the stuff of course. An unlikely action? Not for nutritional therapist Olivia Nottin, founder of King’s Road speciality café, Matcha + Beyond.
“I didn’t even like matcha before” Olivia laughs. “Of course, I knew all about its benefits. How it ups focus, increases metabolism and does wonders for immunity. Naturally, with my work, I embrace health-focused foods. So I just couldn’t understand why Matcha and me weren’t working out”.
If Olivia were to have looked far back for wise words to solve her conundrum, direction may have been sought through the perennially relevant Thomas Fuller. ‘Seeing is believing but feeling is truth’ wrote the great writer and intellectual in 1732. Here, Fuller tells us that what we see first, is not the fullest, most rich experience. Instead interrogate further and our pre-conceived notions give way to a new, deeply personal way of feeling our truth.
Looking beyond obvious first-sights, this determined health-lover followed a Fullerian path. Far from content with tasteless, bitter and milky matcha lattes, Olivia searched beyond the surface of London’s matcha market. She didn’t want to just see frothy-green insta-worthy images. She wanted to feel why keen matcha disciples were declaring this emerald powder their anti-oxidant de rigeur.
Then, the moment happened. A friend brought Olivia some real-deal matcha all the way from travels in Japan. The boom-reaction occurred. “It was amazing- instantly I totally got it”. The pantheon of starry souls obsessed with this green-tea powder suddenly drew nearer to Olivia’s understanding. With devotees ranging from obvious names like Gwyneth Paltrow to more surprising tasters including Drake to time-honoured wiseman such as 12th Century Buddhist monk Eisei, matcha brings a rich variant of fans.
But it is the purest variety that made for Olivia’s realisation. “I couldn’t get enough of it.” In delving beyond initial preconceptions, she made it her mission to fly to Japan, meet independent producers and source a punchy ceremonial grade hit.
Next on her flightpath? To bring her findings back to a London’s wellbeing apostles, sweet-treat lovers and see-you-next-time patrons. So rose the idea for Matcha and Beyond. “I wanted everyone to feel the intensity of matcha. But also have options. Have a milky matchaccino. Or a smooth silken latte. Or just a pure double matcha shot. Just like you could find on any coffee shop menu” effuses Olivia. “It’s why every member of staff has been rigorously trained as a matcharista”.
The space itself is an ode to the calming effect of green. A botanical wall flavours the cafe, refracting a chameleonic range of emerald shades that run in the marbled crockery, evergreen plants and assortment of matcha treats lining the counter. The balance mixes with neutral, earthy furniture, brass finishes and coral cushioning.
Snuggled between The Ivy Chelsea Garden and Chelsea Town Hall, regulars form daily lines, desperate to satiate sweet-toothed pangs with verdant layers of velveteen matcha cake. Appetites pique with a lunchtime offering of kale greek salad, jewelled quinoa and kimchi toastie. Clearly Olivia’s looked beyond Matcha’s most obvious tropes. Here is a space that is not only seen on Insta feeds, it is to be felt in all its green-powdery variety. Thomas Fuller would be proud.