This 136-year-old London coffee store doesn't need to move with the times

There's a certain nostalgia that clings to London's Soho; "it's not what it once was" is an almost constant refrain. Carnaby Street, famous for its nonconformist fashion in the Swinging Sixties, is now filled with chain stores. Many of the area's most insalubrious haunts are long gone, and in their place mostly restaurants, which come and go. The pace of change is rapid and not all change is bad.

The spirit of bohemia hasn't totally left Soho, however. There are still a few stalwarts going strong, even as they weather the aftershocks of the pandemic and high inflation in the UK. The situation has tested the mightiest of Soho institutions. After over 90 years of trading, beloved deli I Camisa only just escaped closure in January.

Facing the deli on Old Compton Street is an establishment that's older still. Algerian Coffee Stores opened in 1887 under the ownership of an Algerian national now remembered only as Mr. Hassan. It was subsequently sold to a Belgian in the 1920s, then to an Englishman in the 1940s. His daughter married an Italian, Paul Crocetta, whose daughters Marisa and Daniela manage the shop today. Despite the many nationalities stewarding the store, it has always retained its name.