Posts Tagged ‘coffee’
Why go to the London Coffee Festival? Well, one of the many, many reasons is written on the wall over there. Do it decently. It is so easy to kill a good coffee. Water too hard, a movement too fast, not the right filter… Two schools… cohabit, I’d say, rather than fight. Super modern machines and traditional techiques - syphon coffee, V60… I love and use both, find them equally fascinating. They just make the coffee universe more interesting to me.
But mostly… it’s such a wonderful occasion to meet the people behind the known but also lesser-known brands. To test before buying. To discover the coffee you’ve been looking for. To ask a thousand questions, finally learn how to make the best of your latest tool. To get a few barrista tips.
And, surprisingly, this is not all about coffee. I wasn’t sure I agreed at first, to be honest. But… you quickly realise it must be. Your mind saturates, your tastebuds too after the third espresso, even if you are a coffee addict. You need something to rebalance your palate. Also, time flies in there. You’ll get hungry. There is a lot to snack on and a whole room dedicated to street food. So, yes, you can drag your non-coffee-drinking friends there and no, they will not get bored!
A few things/people we loved…
Familiar names: Alpro will be launching a new oat milk drink. Oh, it foams beautifully, perfect for lattes, brilliant! I also met the Café Pod team - if you are still hesitating to buy their Colombia Huila Nespresso compatible capsules, now is your opportunity to taste. Their ristretto is pretty good too.
Love at first coffee sip: too many! There definitely is a bottled Cold Brew trend and that’s great news. The Nude espresso is rather pleasant but to be wowed try the Goodbeans ones, especially the Rwanda, fruity and floral. The process takes… 16 hours, drop by drop. What else? Vienna memories with Julius Meinl - write a poem and you will get an intense espresso for free. Alma de Cuba is a nice middle-roast blend, with cacao notes (and will soon do Nespresso compatible capsules). I was quite impressed with Dona Botero - because they really, really care. About details and about their teams. This is the third generation of the family to work on this coffee and their eyes sparkle. That and there is no acidity at all, it’s pure velvet. Oh, and stop by the Make Decent Coffee lab to learn how to Chemex.
Also go to… see the Tea People team who simply love to share their love of a good product. Their chai is a gem (buy it or you’ll regret it), well balanced, smooth, lots of spices, nice scent and taste of cardamom (the cinnamon dominates chais usually but this one is… perfect). I tip my hat to them. Les jardins de Gaia make a kids-friendly vanilla-strawberry flavoured Rooibos, sweetly called With the Fairies. I also brought back some Karma Cola. I’m weak – the bottle is so cool! But the drink is too: fairtrade, organic and not agressive as chemical sodas are.
Yumminess? I’m now addicted to Propercorn. How did that happen? Their Fiery Worcester Sauce and sundried tomato is like a spicy Bloody Mary in popcorn. Don’t get me started on their vanilla and coconut one, it’s way too good. Ganache Macaron make their treat into a lollipop and it’s too adorable not to be tried. Last – I have never, ever been a fan of fudge, too sugary. But The Fudge Kitchen definitely changed my mind, really infused flavours and it melts in the mouth so well. It’s all about the tempering, they say. They even made a drinking version. Choose your own: ginger, winter spices…
Plan a few hours. The place is huge. There is so much to scan through! Go from one theme to another – it’s easy to saturate and really, this is all rather fascinating. But talk. Talk to the professionals rather than grab a sample and disappear. I promise your coffee will be 10 times better for it.
London Coffee Festival 03-06 April 2014
Old Truman Brewery
Some days, my Nespresso is in constant use. I’m sure the poor thing will decide to go on strike at some point, belonging to a Froggie. Do you remember that time, before capsules? The mess, the dust on the counter, the guessing (One? Two teaspoons?), the realisation that maybe the packet was open too long and did not have much taste left? I know they are more expensive, but a capsule does fulfil its promise: neat design, tidy, reliable quality every time.
Nespresso does not have a monopoly on these anymore – meaning, no longer obliged to spend a fortune on them, go to the competition! I alternate, keeping the luxury ones for when I really have the time to savour them, appreciate the moment. For normal life, when I do consume quite a lot, I still need a really good coffee - bland and drowned in milk is no good to me. I had heard a lot of people say that compatible capsules damage the machine. Maybe some do. However, using the Fine Coffee Club at the moment, even though they are made of plastic, I definitely have no issue with these. Trust me, by now, I would know. Clic, clac, same easy principle, no slow down and that beautiful aroma that sharpens your senses instantly, waking you up nicely. And my favourite part: watching the liquid go from light to dark, the foam forming beautifully on top.
The range is graded by strength – light, medium, dark roast. Or by origin if you prefer a more refined drink. Kenya, Columbia, Guatemala (slightly floral and really lovely for desserts, creams or tiramisu) and my absolute favourite Rwanda, a more bodied arabica, no acidity, slightly smoky, cacao hints, makes you want a square of dark chocolate on the spot. Hop to it, order online and anticipate. It’s 20% cheaper than the major brand!
How not to melt for Holybelly, another fab address in the Canal Saint-Martin area? We loved their sense of humour (the slate outside the door always has a friendly or funny sentence, check out their instagram), all the little details inspired by trendy Melbourne: Monster Bash pinball, white letters on the blackboard, brick walls, mugs in a cheerful neon colour… As at 10 Belles, the coffee comes from the local Belleville brûlerie. Intense espressos, velvety filter coffee but also real hot chocolates and perfect chais. This is the best place around for a brunch – especially when you read the line “Pancake, fried egg, pancake again, fried egg again, crispy bacon and Bourbon butter”. Yes, all this is a single dish. Fried eggs can be served with thyme mushrooms, ewe’s milk cheese, black pudding, hash browns… And you can’t miss the mouthwatering cakes as you walk past the counter!
19 rue Lucien Sampaix
A sudden cry of joy, filling the house.
It’s here! It’s arrived!
Eyes sparkling. A Harrods Hamper is a celebration. The luxury, the delicacies, the dream universe. A picture of the rich brick building in Knightsbridge, tiny lights lining it, paradise-like shop windows comes to mind. Curiosity takes over – makes you feel like a child on Christmas day, about to open the biggest gift under the tree.
The parcel is huge. You try to will yourself to open it slowly. In the box, a beautiful heavy weaved basket, leather cover embossed to Harrods name. What will it be? What will we find? This hamper is dedicated to After Dinner – this very precious time, comfortable, conversations getting more personal, turning to life and philosophy. And so this assortment offers these touches of perfection, little pieces of sweetness that will take you later through the night, bring a wonderful conclusion to a night shared with loved ones.
First discovery, a large box of divine mint chocolates. 7 varieties, some focusing more on the cacao, intense or sugary, others on a heart of mint, crisp, melt-in-the-mouth, crystallised. If you fancy something lighter, try the addictive, crunchy, cacao duster almonds. Eat me, should they be labelled, don’t even try to resist. Even more exotic, the rosace of crystallised ginger, beautifully lingering spiciness, lemony and peppery. Just add a chimney fire and self-indulge!
And, for the elegance of the gesture, to make these chocolate notes last even longer, to sharpen your thoughts, exceptional coffees too. The boxes are gorgeous, a pink tinted chestnut, a copper ebony, golden finish, illustration of the Harrods facade to complete the embellishment. Two intriguing blends are presented: The Founders Choice (citrus from Kenya and fruitiness from Costa Rica) and the Signature (silky, berries, floral reminding of jasmine). Serve these nectars in the two refined espresso cups by LSA, hand painted, metallic effect turning them into mirrors, reflecting your nice treats on the side. And the final wow? Sugar nuggets in gold dust. Yes, just wow.
A unique quality of products that justifies Harrods’ fame, smart boxes to turn each discovery into edible gems. A memorable hamper, really.
Of Wimbledon, we mostly picture the Central Court, champagne and strawberries. A festive summer feeling. The expectation of greatness about to played. But did you know Lavazza has served more than 3 millions coffees there since 2010? Quite impressive. All the charm of Italy in a cup. It is quite iconic : family owned to this day, it began its life in 1895 in Turin and is the world’s biggest espresso brand.
And this year, Lavazza is again official supplier of Wimbledon. They have asked 15 bloggers to celebrate the union of tennis and coffee and come up with #NewTraditions. Here, we will play with upcycling, the Wimbledon colours (green and purple, like on the limited edition Favola plus Amodo Mio, gorgeous isn’t it?), decoration ideas for a coffee party, ideal if you are planning to watch the games with friends at home and we’ll add a few smiles too.
Tell us what you think. And if you have new traditions of your own, if you are experiencing with coffee or going to Wimbledon, join in, share with us, tweet your pictures under #NewTradition !
Meanwhile, what can I get you? An espresso, an iced latte, a mocha?
If you love refined coffee, try a cold drip one. Filtered at room temperature, even iced, drop by drop. The process takes a minimum of 06 hours, a whole night, up to 12. Hypnotising. Less acidity, no contact with heat so no loss of flavour. An exceptional purity. Velvet…
11 Leonard Street
Brighton, until June 02, is even livelier than usual: the Fringe Festival is on. Art, theatre, concerts, family workshops, the streets are so very festive! Alpro is sponsoring the event this year and invited me to have a look around as well as sip on delicious #alproccinos et #alprolattes (by the way, tweet your #mugshotmoments for a chance to win a trip to Rome!). Walking form one neighbourhood to another, I was fascinated by the incredible number of cafés around. You feel like stopping every 5 meters. Here are a few we loved:
We love the large industrial space revamped with colours from floor to ceiling, shelves meticously organised, filled withdelicious jams, chutneys, limonades… There is so much to look at you probably will completely forget you have a plate and a hot drink.
100 North Road
Brighton BN1 1YE
A minimalist café, in small touches of design, small splashes of colours. The cakes are divine, the atmosphere very homey,a great place to spend a rainy day with a good book.
Cute clocks here and there, childhood memories, a great sense of humour, mismatched chairs, a mouthwatering collection of cakes. Locals love, love, love this address!
My favourite. For coffee lovers who appreciate a good roast, a fruitiness, care about the origin of the beans. Such a treat to ask for a syphon coffee or a cold drip…
Small Batch Company
17 Jubilee Street
Brighton, BN1 1GE
A stroll through Shoreditch, a lucky street art hunt: here is the perfect conclusions for caffeine-addicts. We know Starbuck won’t do, we need the real stuff. And ha, how welcoming that roasted fragrance is when you step in - the beans are grilled on site. Look around. This industrial building is now a trendy coffee shop with a homey feeling, a chic diner space and a lovely wooden counter along the window. Ah, the first sip of perfect velvety, fruity espresso, the one that sharpens your senses… The flat white is perfectly dosed too with a creamy froth. And you’ll be back - with a novel or a laptop. This is your new HQ.
Ozone Coffee Roasters
11 Leonard Street
Ah, Paris. Two magic syllables. Sit at the terrace of a café, order a grand crème, a croissant, a stereotype maybe, but life is made cheerful by enjoying such simple pleasures. Follow me – here are some detours in the city to inspire you…
* At Gals rock (17 rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris), step into the back room and sit for a while in the sofa. You will fall in love with the music being played, again and again. There is a flask of tea, the deco is vintage inspired and you will find many treasure here.
* Look for deco ideas in the famous concept store Merci (111, boulevard Beaumarchais – 75003 Paris) – so much more there than just a shopping expedition, such as how to turn any crack in the floor or wall into a clooming poem.
* While you are at Merci, have breakfast at the Used Books Café, leafing through romance or devouring whole chapters of adventure stories. Do come early to avoid having to wait - they open at 10.00 and are closed on Sundays.
* How could you resist Judith Lacroix (3 rue Henry Monnier 75009 Paris) kids collection? Clever work on geometry and assymetry in pop colours.
* Nearby, the gorgeous Rocket Ship (13 bis rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris) will make you nostalgic of the 70ies. You will want to buy everything. Or you could just sit at their counter and order one of their fab chai lattes.
* There is more to Paris museums than the Louvre – the city has many adorable cultural centers and a lot less expensive too. You may not know Gustave Moreau but do go and visit his house/workshop (14, rue de La Rochefoucauld 75009 Paris). Some of the rooms are still as he used to know them, filled with his ecclectic and fascinating collections. Others are filled with his paintings from floor to ceiling – so much to take in you will sit down and admire endlessly. Oh, and don’t miss the fabulous spiral staircase, worth coming for on its own. Entrance fee is only 5€.
* As always, keep an eye out for street art. We loved the stencils by The Dude Company.
* Buy tea and coffee from Daval (12 rue Daval, 75011 Paris), the tiniest shop you could imagine in an artist’s courtyard right at Bastille. Very old France. Shelves threaten to curve under the weight of huge tea tin boxes with charming names (chimney fire, Valentine’s day, angel, everglad…), the coffee bags perfume the air, you cna glimpse cooking recipes cut out from magazines, local stop by, have a chat and leave their second hand books to be sold for a couple euros. A very simple place, one that makes you feel all warm inside.
* Take your fiancé to Alain, one of the very rare barbers in Paris – the French experience will leave his skin so soft he will be the one wanting to go back.
* No space left in your suitcase for souvenirs? Indulge in the sweetest gift to yourself at chez Bogato, a boutique-pastryshop all in candy like colours.
* The French love a cartoon called Shadoks, based on the absurdities of life. The creator Jacques Rouxel, used to live a few minutes walk from Bastille. The courtyard (71 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75011 Paris) is now dedicted to him. So very cute in summer with lots of flowers around, a pleasant detour – one you will not find in your guidebook.
* Fancy a real espresso? Try a syphon one at Café Coutume (47 Rue de Babylone 75007 Paris). Splendid to observe, really. The staff speaks English and can advise the perfect roast depending on whether you like it spiced, strong, fruity, cocoa tinted… Their brunch is lovely too with yummy potatoes and sweet chilli sauce. And they serve amazing treats from the Pâtisserie des Rêves.
* And if you are a movie fan and speak a little French, in the same street to this amzing cinema in a Chinese Pagode (57, rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris). It does need renovation but it is worth having a look!
In the wooden, soothing atmosphere of Notes, it is ever so tempting to go beyond the usual cappuccino or flat white. On the slate board the word Piccolo triggers curiosity. To warm milk is added just a little espresso. So different from a latte (larger, more watery) or a cappuccino (different proportions, more froth). Much more character, more balanced, caramel hints. Try this with their cinnamon banana bread…
36 Wellington St
London WC2E 7BD