O Glorious Maker of Coffee
Trying out Square Mile‘s Sweetshop Espresso on the ROK espresso-maker. Coffee continues to be a source of constant amazement. First, its manifold varieties and almost infinite espressions depending on varied permutations of treatment of the beans at every stage of the process from crop to cup. But also how it is representative of the wonder of God’s world: the coffea is but just one genus of flowering plant in the hundreds of thousands in this world (excluding those that have already become extinct), and plants are but just one branch (haha) in the whole creation. Think then of all the different sorts of creatures on land, under the ground, in the sea, in the air… Then think of mankind and the different ethnic backgrounds, personalities, experiences, thoughts…
More than the absolute delight at drinking and eating in a Victorian loo, I like the consistent cups at The Attendant Coffee (Downstairs, 27a Foley Street, London W1W 6DY). Took a birthday girl here – there was quite a bit of squealing and attempts at tweeting (technically, shouldn’t it be twit-ting or twittering? No reflection on the birthday girl though!).
Bean: Caravan Espresso
Milk: Ivy House Farm
Machine: La Marzocco
Lots of independent coffee shops and roasteries say they share the same ethos of respecting the beans, of taking care to roast and grind the stuff properly then it brew it at the right temperature and use the right milk at the right temperature in the right way. But sadly, it is a fallen world. And like many churches, good intentions only go so far – sometimes, there is the inability to understand what is needed to execute said intentions, and sometimes, someone down the line doesn’t get the memo.
The experience this academic year has been fairly mixed:
Nude Espresso (near Brick Lane, 26 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR) was the first third wave/indie coffee shop I came upon in London and have always returned because the first barista I met was exceedingly nice and also sold me display copies of a V60 and Hario kettle for a discounted price. But I have not seen her since and unfortunately, the flat whites here have not been of a good standard. These last photos were taken only 10 minutes after I got the “flat whites”. The barista made one cup and divided it into two takeaway cups, then topped both with hot water. It was a strange watery brew.
Bean: Nude East Espresso Blend
We came upon Tapped and Packed Coffee (193 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1F 8ZF) while having a bit of a wander off Oxford Street. Excellent flat white – fruity chocolate.
Bean: TAP Jack of Spades Blend (40% Brazil Cruzeiro Natural, 60% Rwanda, Karengera)
Machine: Nuova Simonelli
Had high expectations for the Bulldog Edition at Ace Hotel (100 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JQ). Advertised as a partnership with James Hoffmann of Square Mile, I expected good things. But the drink was bitter – overextracted, suggest some Beanhunter reviewers. At least I now have a place near work to source for SM beans!
Bean: Square Mile Sweetshop Espresso
Machine: La Marzocco Strada
After a good session at The Fleet Street Talks, headed a few doors down to The Fleet Street Press (3 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AU) to do some work. It was filled with lawyers chatting through ongoing cases and people with dog-collars giving encouraging advice. The flat white was excellent – slightly nutty and chocolatey, with good body.
Bean: Caravan The Press Espresso Blend (75% Coatepec Mexico; 25% La Marianella, Columbia)
Machine: La Marzocco
DunneFrankowski at Sharps Barber and Shop (9 Windmill St, London W1T 2JF) was another brand-name gig. The baristas were chatty to regulars, giving the whole place feeling of community – the stated objective of situating the coffee shop in a barber’s. Flat white was decently citrusy i think, though rather overwhelmed by the ham sandwich that accompanied it.
Bean: a Hasbean blend – can’t remember which one 😦
Machine: Oh my – a Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette
Artigiano Espresso Bar (1 Paternoster Square, St Paul’s, London EC4M 7DX) was a pleasant surprise. It looked like a run-of-the-mill Italianate sandwich place you find in every square in the City. We needed a place to chat over Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and this seemed a viable alternative to Starbucks. Good call. In the seasonal espresso hopper was a Burundi. Never tried one of those before. Juicy citrus on almost on the mouth-puckering end – very nice indeed for bright-coffee fiends.
Bean: Origin Burundi Buziraguhindwa Espresso
Machine: La Marzocco