London Stopover: A Flat White & A Double Espresso

The final leg of our journey was in London and as soon as I could, I rushed over to Flat White Cafe in Soho, flying through the door and spotting Cameron, the main owner of Flat White, I practically belted out, “A flat white please…” For me, it was like – I haven’t had really good coffee for almost 2 weeks and I need it now and wow ! wasn’t it worth waiting for – almost too good looking to drink.

A flat white @ Flat White, Soho (London)
A flat white @ Flat White, Soho (London)

A beautifully poured “rosetta” on my flat white. Even Cameron was impressed by the very kind lady who poured this beautiful rosetta (I’m so embarrassed I didn’t get her name so that I could have mentioned it on this post, sorry !), and here it is one more time, up close and personal, so that you can almost taste it.

After my “flat white experience”, I rushed off to have a quick lunch and of course I needed a good espresso to finish off my lunch experience and no place better than Milk Bar (Flat White’s second shop), still in Soho. As there wasn’t much time to catch our flight, I ordered a double espresso in 25C heat outside, took a picture to share the experience and gulped it down.

To finish off, I took a picture of their custom made Black La Marzocco FB70 espresso machine. What a nice stop over in London to satisfy my espresso cravings.

Ciao !


Coffee @ Woolworths Cafe, Cape Town

As a follow up from my last post on drinking coffee in Mauritius. you’ll be pleased or jealous to know that our way back to Europe, it was just too tempting not to stop over in my favourites foodie city of the moment, Cape Town, to delight my palate (OK ! another word for taste buds…), so I gave into temptation and we stopped over in Cape Town for a very short while. On the day I dedicated to the family, we stopped over in a massive mall, about 20 minutes drive from downtown Cape Town, Century City. Of course, after the usual late lunch, I was not scanning the place for a decent cup of coffee and after pacing up and down past numerous places offering coffee, I decided to try my luck at Woolworths, which has no resemblance to the UK Store that went bust last year or the US version of a bargain hunters paradise. No ! Woolworths in South Africa is almost a spitting image of Marks & Spencers in the UK or the equivalent of decent high quality clothes store, which offers food of really high quality. So in summary, they should not compromise on anything food related and they haven’t to an extent. I actually first visited Woolworths Cafe in the summer of 2006, when I spotted a La Marzocco FB70 machine in the store in another city, Durban, but the coffee wasn’t that great. However, since then, Woolworths have put more effort into their coffee venture, by first sourcing organic and fair-trade coffees from within the Africa continent and secondly by paying closer attention to the training of their baristi (plural for barista – some Italian lessons), so much so that in 2009, one of their baristi won the South African Barista National Championships – not bad, plus of course they seem to only use La Marzocco espresso machines, hmmm !

So on approaching the Woolworths Cafe next to the food section inside the store, noticing a La Marzocco GB5, I went up to the barista and after introducing myself, asked him if he knew how to use a GB5, he looked at me amusingly like “what kind of coffee machine nerd is this” and said “Yes !”, so I told him, I was a bit of a coffee expert (well aspiring to be one between me and you) and I ordered a double espresso, sat down and watched.

Not bad – the crema was present, the coffee a bit bitter and slightly hot, but not bad for an outfit that doesn’t offer coffee as its primary product. I’m also going to go out and say that this is the best espresso I’ve tasted in a mall, for what it’s worth. In any case, being a place that strives to offer high quality food, I was tempted to try a piece of cake, and went for a Pear and Almond Tart, delicious and worth every crumb.

So in summary, if you’re shopping in a mall in South Africa that has a Woolworths Cafe in it, or there is one near by and you need that coffee fix and don’t know where to get it, try an espresso, a filter coffee or a cappuccino @ Woolworths Cafe.

Drinking Coffee in Mauritius

I was lucky enough to go on our family holiday this year to beautiful Mauritius. With the current financial crisis all over the “richer” part of the World, there are deals galore to dream destinations and Mauritius is definitely one of them. OK ! my second job is not a tour operation so I’m going to get to the bottom of the cup on this – what coffee experiences did I have, because you know that wherever I go I’ve got to have some sort of coffee experience. We stayed at this really nice hotel called Le Touessrok and all coffee served at this top hotel happens to be sourced from Illy.

So every breakfast and every dinner I had Illy coffee. Now to be fair to Illy, sometimes it’s not about the coffee, it’s about how it’s served and sometimes it’s about the type of machine, which for a hotel that was voted the 7th best in the World, should be the best. However, to avoid libel (or being sued), I’m not going to comment on the machine below, as I don’t know what it is.

From my current experience, lots of top hotels and restaurants boast about providing you with the best food, etc, but when it comes to coffee, there’s a bit of compromise. OK ! it was good to be asked what coffee you would like every morning.

OK ! this is a bit exaggerated on the foam, but on another occasion the froth was a bit flatter.

However with views like this from the breakfast table, you can forgive the barista.

Not to be confined to the hotel, we did manage to explore a bit of the Island and headed up to the north-west of the Island to Grand Baie, where I managed to find Cafe La Fournaise on “Sunset Boulevard” named I guess because it is one of the best places to watch the sun set. The location of this cafe is right on sunset Boulevard and has a very French Riviera feel to it – you can easily think you are in a fancy  European beach side resort. In any case I ordered an espresso, snapped away and gulped it down before our ride back to our hotel, some 1 hours drive away.

Coffee was okay, but the location is a real people watching place, so I can imagine it being a popular place with rich locals and tourist alike. So, that’s my bit of sharing my coffee experiences in Mauritius, au revoir.

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