A Special Request @ Flat White

“Can I have a triple espresso flat white made on a bottomless filter please ?” You what ? OK ! let me decipher. Usually, you can get a single or a double espresso in your milk based drink, mainly because the portafilter (where the coffee is ground into and placed into the espresso machine) can take a minimum of a single espresso and a maximum of a double espresso. However, I learnt that at Flat White, Berwick Street, Soho, London they had a special triple espresso portafilter, which means you can order a triple espresso shot. A Flat White (from which the shop is named) is an Australian Version of a Latte, but with less frothed milk. I also learnt that they sometimes use a bottomless filter, which means that the portafilter does not have a base under the coffee basket – Am I loosing you in this jargon ? Making espresso in a bottomless filter means that the coffee is extracted straight from the machine into your coffee cup, without touching any metal. So in essence, you are getting quite a pure pour and the taste should be sublime. So, on a recent visit to Flat White coffee shop, I made this order and watched the event. The top barista and co-owner, Cameron, was really helpful. Here is the beginning of the pour for the latte art;

rosetta cometh 

And here is the final version – almost too good to drink, but lovely as a picture.

Rosetta @ Flat White London 

They also use bottomeless portafilters at my other favourite coffee shop in Cape Town, Origins Coffee Roasting, which I have a picture of and will share with you some other time God willing !

So ! if you get a chance to be brave and show off to your friends, forget that stuff about skinny soya latte, etc and order a triple shot espresso latte or flat white

Drinking Coffee in London @ Fernandez & Wells

Fernandez & Wells 

Another one of favourite coffee shops in London has to be Fernandez & Wells, which actually has two shops in Soho – fast reclaiming back its status as the place to eat, drink and be seen in London. The first shop on 43 Lexington Street is described as a Food & Wine Bar “a European Market Stall in an English Setting”, where you can buy meat, cheese, sandwiches, etc. However just around the corner on 73 Beak Street is their Coffee Shop, where I’ve been before (see https://fromcoffeewithlove.com/pages/enjoy_culture-beanthere.html).

For a little background, their coffee is from the famous Monmouth Coffee Company and they now have a Synesso Cyncra Espresso Machine (they used to have a La Marzocco) – I’ve only seen 2 Synesso machines, one in Cape town and one now in London. For more info about this wonderful machine see www.synesso.com If my dream of having a coffee shop one day came true, then this machine is first on my list. Anyway back to the shop – they have a simple clean layout, where all the goodies are displayed

Cakes at F&W 

Now ! doesn’t that look inviting ? As I had just had breakfast, I could only stomach a Pasties de Nata a Portuguese custard tart, which I had only had previosuly at Origins Coffee Roasting in Cape Town – now that I am writing this, there seems to be come kind of connection, same custard tarts and same coffee machine, hmmmm ! They also have bread from the famous French bakery, Poilâne. I decided to try a Piccolo, which I had wanted to try on my return. A Piccolo is like a smallish latte, served in a double espresso cup and I found out that the barista and another shop assistant were previously from Monmouth Coffee Company – so they got the coffee and the staff from the pros – well done ! Anyway, as you can see below, my piccolo was served with latte art in this tiny cup – impressive as Im still struggling to do latte art in a big cup.

Piccolo from F&W 

The coffee was nice and smooth and the staff were friendly and on my next visit, I pray that I’ll have the chance to pop in and have that Sicilian Lemon Cheesecake that I didn’t have space in my tummy for.

For more, visit http://www.fernandezandwells.com/beak.php

How Can You Tell if Your Beans are FRESH ?

I’m not sure about you, but sometimes when you go to a cafe or speciality coffee shop to buy coffee, when you ask, “Are your coffee beans fresh ?”, you will always get an answer of “Yes ! of course”. However, as most of us are not expert coffee sniffers – those who can see or smell a handful of coffee beans and know instantly whether it is fresh, not to mention that in most places, the beans are already packed neatly in a bag, so there’s no way for you to even see or smell the beans, then you just have to trust the retailer until you get home – and this is where I can share some advice with you. As a first test, look at the pictures below – can you guess which ones are fresh and which ones are not ?

Old to Fresh

 fresh to old

OK ! the colour in these pictures may give you a clue, but to save you from agony, the prominent beans in the first picture are actually very old – like over a year – ideal for taking pictures but not to drink. The prominent beans in the second picture are fresher. However, in some cases this might not be the best way to judge the freshness of your bean, because as you know by now (I am assuming you have been reading my website and blog) – some coffee beans are roasted darker than others. OK ! for the next test. From what I’ve read, as soon as you freshly grind your coffee beans and prepare it in the manner that you prefer, you will see some obvious signs of freshness. For espresso, it can be quite obvious – fresh coffee beans, just roasted and prepared properly and extracted will show coffee coming out like it is full of crema, like the picture below.

 Extracting Fresh

So if you watch your espresso being prepared, it should not fall into your cup looking like dark coffee, but like crema/light brown. It obviously changes when it hits the cup and mixes with the air. There’s a lot of science to do with this, but as I’ve been through the agony of reading literally tons of pages on this, I will just simplfy it for you “fresh coffee should come out like crema when extracting for espresso”. For other types of coffee, like cafetiere, when you pour it into the beaker and stir, there should be a bubbly dark cloud on top – I promise to get a picture of this for you but my camera is currently broken, so for next time God willing !

For some very aromatic coffees like the Indian Malabar Moonsooned or Central American coffees, you will obviously be able to judge by the wonderful aroma too. In any case, if you get home and don’t see these signs not just for the first time, but over the course of the week of drinking that particular coffee, then chances are the coffee isn’t very fresh at all. Good luck !

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