The efficiency of an ensemble-based optical quantum memory depends critically on the strength of the atom-light coupling. An optical cavity is an effective method to enhance atom-light coupling strength, with the drawback that cavities can be difficult to integrate into a memory setup. In this work we show coherent enhancement of atom-light coupling via an interference effect. The light to be absorbed into the atomic ensemble is split and used to drive the atoms from opposite ends of the ensemble. We compare this method theoretically to a cavity-enhanced scheme and present experimental results for our coherent enhancement in cold 87Rb atoms that show an efficiency of 72±5% and a storage lifetime of 110±10μs.