The Best Smelling Cortado I ever had

As soon as Ramadhan finished in May 2022, I rushed to meet a friend at one of my fave cafes in Dubai, Qahwaty at the Dubai International Financial Centre (known as DIFC), which hosts as many international companies you can think off. As I waited for a friend, the head barista , Dhani, hailing from Indonesia asked me what I thought about my cortado and I replied that it was fine. Unimpressed with my answer, I think, he then asked me what I love to taste in espresso based coffee with milk and I said… “well balanced, low-to-medium acidity, not too much fruit, hints of nuts and spices like vanilla (actually like my blend) and then he said, “okay I’m going to prepare something for you”

As I waited and sipped my cortado, he presented this…

Upon raising the cup to my mouth, I was hit by the smell of tropical fruits like mango and banana (now, these are one of my five favourite fruits – the rest are pineapple, strawberries and pear, in case you were wondering). Okay I digress.

BUT did you know that 80% of our taste buds come from our sense of smell ? If you don’t believe me, just google it here. It’s what I also learnt when I did the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Sensory Skills course in June last year.

So, you can imagine the anticipation of my taste buds when I smelt this tropical nirvana. As I tasted the coffee, I detected hints of pineapple acidity and although the coffee smelt like a topical paradise, the taste was a lot more subdued – I can’t imagine a banana, mango coffee milkshake with hot milk….

BUT I was not disappointed, as I rejected my earlier cortado in favour of this myriad of flavours in a cup. Wow, wow, wow – said thrice for excitement.

Of course I questioned Dhani about what he did as he was delighted with my response. In short he created a blend of coffee on the spot using Colombian coffee and Brazil from two different roasters based in Dubai.

Wow!

I just thank God for this experience which I won’t forget for the rest of my life.

Indeed the best smelling milk based espresso drink I have ever had. Here it is one more time

If you are ever in the DIFC area, look out for them – a small coffee shop located outside the gate village, first floor, in front off the Ritz Carlton, opposite Wild and Moon and not too far from ICD Brookfield.

Dubai Coffee Pioneers: Mokha 1450

Mokha 1450, Palm Jumeirah

I’m blessed to live in a vibrant city that thrives on specialty coffee, not to mention, constant sunshine, beaches, great food that will make a foodie tire themselves out and an eclectic mix of cultures – a true city of the 21stcentury. For me, it’s been wonderful since I moved here in September 2020. Nevertheless, with the ever-growing coffee culture witnessed by almost a monthly opening of a new coffee shop, it’s easy to forget the ones who started the journey and paved the way, so here we are, Mokha 1450.

You may have heard me mention the name before as I did an experiment to debunk the myth of freshly roasted coffee last year and needless to say, a rare coffee, an Ethiopian Geisha, won my test, whereby a coffee roasted months before tasted even better when brewed using a Hario V60. This coffee was sourced by Mokha 1450.

Initially located at Wasl Road but now with a branch on the famous Palm Jumeriah – yes the man-made island shaped like a palm tree in the middle of the Arabian sea off Dubai’s coastline – now you see why Dubai has a lot to offer, indeed a city of dreams, BUT back to coffee….

Cortado at Wasl Branch

The origin of the name traces back to Arabia itself, Mokha being the seaport in Yemen that started trading coffee back in….. 1450 – get the hint. So, Garfield Kerr, the owner, I presume wanted to launch his coffee shop in homage to the first city of coffee. However, that wasn’t enough, as Garfield with roots in Jamaica, ensued that his was the first company in the UAE to import Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamaica’s Coffee Industry Board (now known by its new acronym JACRA). In this connection, Mokha 1450 have always sourced “rare and exceptional” coffees – this terminology features on their coffee bags. In fact during the EXPO2020 from October 2021 to March 2022, Mokha 1450 served the most expensive coffee there as Jamacia Blue Mountain coffee is usually if not the most expensive, one of them.

Wasl branch, San Remo machine

Mokha 1450 is called a boutique in that their service is akin to being served in a fashion boutique – attention to the coffee but more so to the customer.

Preparing my cortado

At their Palm Jumeirah branch, upon entering, you are given a menu that explains all the coffees on offer and if you are serious about coffee like me, you may take a while to go over the menu before placing your order. After which, they will offer further explanation if needed. At this branch, as they have more space, they will also prepare the coffee in front of you, just like in a boutique they will bring out the best clothes and explain the product, so too here.

Here we are

I’ve been thrice, twice to the Palm Jumeirah branch and once to the Wasl branch. On my second visit to Palm, we met with Garfield and he offered us another delectable coffee – see below.

At the first World of Coffee event, Mokha 1450 experimented with serving you espresso in an iced cup – the coffee cup was placed in a freezer and they pulled the espresso shot into the freezing cup – the idea was to display a different array of flavours, more on highlighting the acidity. 

So, why go? Well, if you love coffee and want to be served with attention to details by courteous staff and want to take your taste buds on a whirl, then visit. I must add that they have a delicious of array of cakes at their Palm branch and wife always orders the carrot cake, not to share…. Ha!

Visit them and read more on their website

Drinking coffee with Champions: Michaela Ruazol-Recera and Mon Alpas

The champs

As promised from my last post, where I mentioned “how often do you walk into a cafe and a champion offers to make you coffee”… well it happened to me twice and here, I was served by Champions – yes that’s the plural of champion – Michaela Ruazol-Recera, UAE Barista Champion and Mon Alpas, UAE Latte Art Champion. Scrolling through Instagram, I couldn’t believe when I saw on Goldbox Roastery (one of my faves) page that both champions would be at their roastery serving coffee. I promptly informed Naveed and off we went.

To be honest I was surprised that upon arriving around 1pm, that there wasn’t a queue – definitely if this was in London, Melbourne or New York, there would have been a long queue BUT I wasn’t complaining – more time to talk to the champions and enjoy my coffee. We even had a front row seat as Michaela explained the special process of her winning coffee, la Esperanza Mandela, stored in barrels for 30 hours – which was served – listen below;

Michaela in action

Fresh from competing at the World Barista Championship and the UAE Barista Championship, which she won again, Michaela seemed excited about trying to innovate the coffee industry and during the week I was there, it was also being served at her cafe, Typica in Jumeirah (yes, I went there a few days later to have it – let’s just say it tasted like vanilla ice cream). BUT we’re not finished yet.

Two creatures

Yes, that looks amazing but have you heard of “distilled milk”? Well, I recall Naveed mentioning it to me but I had never tasted it before – in short, it’s milk that is frozen and then in this case defrosted with 50% of the water removed making it a lot creamier and sweeter. This isn’t an easy feat as I have tried to froth cream before – yes, many years ago during my inexperienced wide eye years and no, it didn’t work. So, all I can say is “hat’s off” (English colloquialism for well done) to Mon Alpas for not only frothing the milk but pouring such wonderful latte art.

Mon in action

So, we had our coffee prep and brewed on the this wonderful Modbar by the UAE Barista champion and had our milk for our cortado prep and poured by the UAE National Latteeart champion – how often do you get to experience or say that ? Online Dubai.

The taste ???

Well, here’s my reaction – need I say more.

Excited me

Okay just a little – sublime in that usually when I’ve had any kind of macerated or anaberoic coffee, it’s been filtered and you can experience this unusual fruity caramel taste but in a milk based espresso coffee, it was Wow! sometimes words are not needed – just enjoy the experience.

And I’m not finished – I so enjoyed the experience that I asked for the cappuccino version – yes, it had more milk but also more coffee….. Yummy!

Pegasus

Needless to say It was great meeting Barbara Croce, owner of Gold Box too as she was in Dubai for a few days, so I got to talk coffee geek stuff too.

Feeling jealous ? Don’t be, because this coffee will be made available at Typica if not now, then very soon as Michaela can’t wait to INSPIRE others with her new creation.

I was at The Espresso Lab, Dubai

A piccolo or cortado

The experience was even more exhilarating as I had my #dailycortado using #kenyancoffee

In honour of International coffee day on 1 October 2020, I decided to treat myself at one of Dubai’s iconic specialty coffee shops, The Espresso Lab, located at Dubai Design District. In fact this was my second visit, as I had visited them at the previous location in 2016, read here.

As you enter, you are greeted with a brew bar, featuring a Synesso espresso machine and many filter brew options ranging from cold drip, Hario V60, khalifa wave, etc and more, see pic below.

Brew bar at espresso lab

What was unusual for me, was the number of staff present. Let me explain; following the pandemic , I’ve noticed that most food and beverage establishments have cut down considerably on staff. I’ve always been in two minds about this because I always believe that this compromises on service delivery. Can you really provide the same level of quality customer experience ( I prefer this to service) with less people? Well, I don’t think so.

So, back to espresso lab. For me, with this amount of staff, it gave the impression that they were very focused on the customer and that each staff had clear guidelines on their job, so well done espresso lab.

Now, to the coffee. I love that they don’t serve espresso to go and don’t offer sugar, yay!

Coffee menu

I knew I was craving espresso based coffee as I had to leave my espresso machine in Vienna until it is air freighted. On offer were 3 single origins; India, Yemen and Kenya. Now, if you know a bit about coffee origins and taste profiles, you’ll know that these choices are very unusual, especially for espresso. In case you are wondering, it’s very rare to brew Kenyan coffee on an espresso machine mainly because of the typical profile of bold, berry and citrus flavours. Although very uncommon at the moment, I must say since I’ve moved to Dubai, I’ve had close contact with Yemeni coffee, so, I decided to try the Kenya coffee. Check out the latte art pour by barista Wael below.

Pouring my cortado

And wow! I wasn’t disappointed, as this was for me, one of the best milk based espresso drinks of 2020, a true treat, praise God. Well done to the barista Wael, who I quizzed endlessly before I placed my order. I salute his patience.

After that delightful experience, I knew I needed something sweet, so here comes the mini double layer carrot cake, topped with rose petals, another delicious treat. To compliment this experience I had a short black, americano with less water and discovered a book, “the monk of mokha“, which a friend mentioned to me a few years back, that I would like to buy and read.

Cute Carrot cake

Their menu is different and I plan to visit their newly opened roastery with another coffee nerd soon in order to learn more.

Coffee galore

So, when in Dubai, I highly recommend a visit to espresso lab, located in building 7, Dubai Design District.

How I Taste Coffee in Public

Ever wondered how I taste coffee in public when I go to a cafe? Well, here’s your chance, a first video of it’s kind, filmed by my patient daughter.

This visit was actually monumental as it was the first time I was going to Coffee Pirates (Cafe and Roastery), located at Spitalgasse 17, 1090 since it opened in July 2012. My daughter actually went there and told me about it, and I was like “I’ve been there before, but 8 years ago…”.

On my second visit, I went for a Kenyan Coffee from the Nyeri region, prepared using a Hario V60, which tends to bring out the fruitier undertones of the coffee.

 

I was at NightJar Coffee, Dubai

Lucky me…. really. I was in Dubai in mid-March, just before the lock down, flight bans, quarantine and more and just got back to Vienna on the last couple of flights until July 2020.

Back to lucky me…. I was actually in Dubai to investigate the possibility of moving there to set up a business/life coaching consultancy, which would also involve… you guessed it… working as a coffeepreneur. In any case, I was talking to Yashood, head barista of %Arabica on the Dubai cafe culture, specifically on the explosive coffee roasting trend and he recommended that I check out a newish joint, Night Jar – located in the trendy arty district, called Alserkal Avenue. I must admit that during our family vacation in July 2019, we visited Alserkal Avenue to check out a chocolate cafe/factory and I walked by Night Jar, but it looked closed, so I never ventured in.

LUCKY ME… because even with just one week in Dubai during these tough times, I was still able to discover and experience great coffee in Dubai.

Night Jar is located at Unit G62 Alserkal Avenue Al Quoz Industrial 1, close to the main entrance and you could easily miss it,  as the exterior is darkish with glass doors and their logo on top. As you walk in, there are rows of coffees on the right hand side for you to buy,

If you look slightly to your left, you’ll see a tiny hallway feature that looks closed to all but staff (I found out later that this passage leads to the roasting area, equipped with a Geisen coffee roaster). As you look further to your left, you’ll see the brew bar and delicious looking cakes on display. They have a BlackEagle espresso machine –

Being inquisitive, I asked about their roaster and was introduced to Chad from Cape Town, who previously worked for Truth Coffee for 5 years (an insight – when I moved to Cape Town in 2009 my initial plan was to launch Truth Coffee with David Donde but I felt that my heart was somewhere else – a lesson for anyone chasing their goals, which I also write about daily on Instagram as honestmanagement) – Nevertheless, what a coincidence, that I walk into a cafe in Dubai and the roaster used to work for a place I almost started out at. In any case during our brief chat, I could tell that Chad is a no nonsense kind of coffee guy – focused on sourcing and roasting the best with an innovative edge. He recommended that I try an espresso of their Colombian coffee, which was about to finish

I must confess it was one of the best espresso I’ve had in a cafe for a while – well balanced between acidity and fruity undertones and smooth to drink.

I couldn’t agree more.😋

However, I definitely needed to buy their coffees – Chad suggested their Rwandan coffee for espresso and the Kenyan for filter, which he very kindly refused for me to pay.

I was also tempted to buy a slice of cake, but we had just had one at Tom&Serg around the corner – my daughter was slightly upset as she said “daddy, we could have had these nice cakes here…” next time God willing.

More about NightJar – they source micro and nano lots, so their specialty coffee offering is really special as you might taste something incredible one day that may not be available the next – so buy the bag whilst you can. Their interior is L shaped, cosy and intimate – they also offer food and their menu looks great, I mean stuff like pulled ox benedict, Nigeria love rice, NZ meatballs, veggie specials and more – yum! so next time, I plan to make a meal of it (coffee, lunch and dessert) God willing. They offer nitro coffee, which is a sort of cold brew coffee charged with nitrogen to give it a rich, creamy head, similar to nitro draft beer like Guinness – in fact at Nightjar, the brew heads for nitro coffee look like how beer is dispensed but being Dubai, there’s no beer here.

Before I sign off, I have mention that I really love their fun theme on their packaging.

Very innovative.

I plan to meet their owner, who hails from New Zealand and who coincidentally again, is known by one of my contacts in Dubai.

When the quarantine is out, I strongly advise any serious coffee nerd to visit Nightjar in Dubai – until then they are selling their coffees online – lucky Dubanites (is that a word?) visit them here right now to order https://nightjar.coffee

 

I was @ Typica – Probably Dubai’s Best Coffee Shop

I think God is too kind to me. I stopover in Dubai, pop over to one of my most anticipated roastery visits, Gold Box (more on this next week) – get invited by the owner to the opening of a new coffee shop by the 2018 UAE Barista Champion, which turns out to be probably one of my best coffee experiences ever. So, where do I start?

I arrive in a beautifully designed cafe in Umm Suqueim 2 – Jumeirah (Dubai’s best coffee neighbourhood  by far)

 

Show my invite only card but welcomed like I’m a VIP.

Offered a seat and asked what I would like to start with – naturally I let the staff – hold on, no, it’s actually the UAE Champion herself. What can I say, but, “please offer me what you want” I’m thinking “when was the last time I was attended to by an actual barista champion….. well! actually, never… so let me indulge my senses in this experience ”

 

The menu is simple and to the point

I start with a white (I asked for a cortado), served with a salted caramel brownie on the side together with a never seen before – little card describing type of coffee, altitude height it was grown, process and taste profile – wow!

Could I ask for more….

But there’s more…

Michaela Ruazol, the custodian and UAE Barista Champion has something very special for you on – THE CHALLENGE – the signature drink that contributed to her winning the UAE Barista Championship. However, before you start going crazy with delight – whilst this may not actually be the exact bean that she won the championship with, she has managed to creatively select a coffee with the same profile, so that you too, can delight your tastebuds with what won the judges over – cold brew.

I must say, it was very exquisite, with so many flavour profiles in your mouth, but not at once – progressively, as at first you taste the berries, watermelon (yes, you read that right) and then later on, the caramel type swirl and citrus from the dried orange. It’s like a party in your mouth. The clever part about this type of coffee drink is that, as it was developed as a cold brew (not the easiest type of coffee to get a great taste profile)I think it really challenged Michaela a wide range to experiment because she had to get it just right and more.

Now, where else do you get to taste championship coffee prepared by a champion if you’re not a judge ? For me, TYPICA, Dubai of course.

So what else is on offer?

Looks strange? Well this is a very special coffee machine, Aremde Nexus One– the first of it’s kind in Dubai – Typica are about pushing the boundaries read about this one of it’s kind machine here. It’s one of the very few espresso machines in the World trying to solve the problem of having the barista prepare your coffee whilst looking at you and at the same time, you viewing the process. Naturally, I asked for an espresso, again, prepared by Michaela.

As I wandered around, I spotted coffee being roasted on the spot on the Ikawa (one for my wishlist). The Ikawa is the World’s first smart roaster, so basically you can roast green beans on it – read more here

I’m not sure if they were roasting for consumption right away as this will go against the coffee roasting and chemical principle but it was part of the experience that was Typica.

As I sat there enjoying the vibe, I spotted a man walking around taking pictures and directing another in videoing the opening. He eventually walked by and introduced himself and asked if I wouldn’t mind being featured in one of the promo videos – he laughed as he said, we just want a shot of your mouth, sampling and enjoying the delicious coffee on offer. So, if you visit their instagram page, you may spot me on their page around 2-3 September 2019. I later found out that he was Keith Dallison, a creative hailing from Birmingham (UK), who came to Dubai about 20 years ago and never went back. Later on, Barbara Croce, owner of Gold Box joined the party as well as some inquisitive onlookers and friends. Also on offer are exquisite coffees (no space for normal here). For those who don’t know coffees from Panama are usually very, very special with a posher sounding coffee varietal called Geisha.

I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Michaela and of course I have to say she’s a charming lady that comes across as humble but determined. She offered me more, but after three coffee drinks in less than hour, I was caffeine out. Determined that I still delight my taste buds, she offered me her favourite cookie (biscuit if you are English) which is owned and baked by a local Emirati baker and I must confess it was one fo the best I have had. Her staff are naturally friendly and gave the impression that they were having a great time, with a party vibe but committed to giving you the best. After all, they are also the UAE brewers champion.

Before I finish, I have to mention that the amazing story of Michaela doesn’t start or end here. I found out that the 2016-2017 champion actually didn’t enter the UAE Barista championship, because he wanted to coach her to be the champion and of course he succeeded and its a a real coffee love story, because they are together. In 2020, Michaela will actually represent the UAE at the Melbourne World Barista Championship in 2020 – wow! what a story and this is typical (excuse the pun) of leaders, there’s always a fantastic story behind their success not to mention their hard work, passion and dedication. Naturally he was there during the opening but I think he’s still an employee of Gold Box.

Well done Michaela and I definitely cannot wait to stop by again – a real contender for my fave cafe in the World.

Read more about them on www.typicauae.com

 

 

Is this My Favourite Coffee Shop in the World? Prufrock Coffee, London

I often get asked, “So, Lameen what is your favourite coffee shop in the World?”. It’s a bit of a tricky question, because the modern age consumer doesn’t get easily satisfied with just the product – they want an experience. Sure, I’ve had great coffee in cafes, where I wished they had been a bit friendlier and the opposite holds sway too – good customer service but mediocre coffee. I often try and process that very quickly but I see that the questioner starts to get impatient – expecting me as a coffee lover to just pop out the answer. Furthermore, they get even more impatient when I start saying for espresso, it was…. and for filter, it has to be….. and I just really loved the concept and the staff at…… So, not to burden them with my complicated musings, I will default to Prufrock Coffee in London. And, you guessed it, “but why?”. Then I think to myself, if I have to start explaining the experience, that it was started by a former WBC Champion, that companies approach them to test new technology, that they started using reverse osmosis water, that they have a great barista academy, that they gave me a free barista tasting session, that I learnt a lot from chatting with them for hours, etc. Then they tune off.

So, I thought to myself, actually, when was the last time I visited Prufrock coffee and I realised shamefully that I hadn’t been back to Prufrock Coffee for about 6 years. After all, my post on my first visit in 2011 (read here) was so popular that the tweet advertising it, was retweeted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters and got me my most hits back then in one day – over 300. In addition, one of my pictures, when I used to use a Nikon Camera for all my coffee and food photos – was liked by Prufrock so much, they gave me a free tasting class – read here. So, I was well overdue a visit.

Located on 23-25 Leather Lane, Prufrock is on a busy week day market street. It is unusually big for a classic London specialty coffee shop and on their website, they even highlight that. I won’t go into the aesthetics, as you can read that in my original posts from 2011, however somethings have changed – more retail space to sell coffee, t-shirts and more and a stronger focus on food, without compromising on coffee of course. Prufrock are still very closely associated with Square Mile, so you can buy their coffees here too.

As you can see from above, they are very much still into the provision of both barista and specialised “coffee ” related training. Their website offers more options and if you recall from one of my earlier posts in 2019, I mentioned that they new coffee roasters in Vienna, Jonas Reindl, were trained by Prufrock. So a Coffee Lover’s Dream – Prufrock it still is. and I know that if I want to take my aspiring coffee career to the next level, it will start from Prufrock. In fact, even though I know it was lunchtime, it was quite busy and I just about got a space to sit. I noticed also, that a few tourist were visiting, buying souvenirs.

Now to the the coffee and my visit.

Visiting at lunchtime was probably not the best idea, but I needed great coffee as early as possible in the day. As you can guess, their fame has blossomed and not only was the cafe busy with what looked like regulars, but a few touristy looking customers were also paying homage. In fact I was lucky to get a sit, which was pleasantly opposite the brew bar, decked with the Victoria Arduino VA388 Black Eagle and accompanying Victoria Arduino coffee grinders.

 

For the coffee, they had two choices and if you have time and are serious, you can enquire which blend would be good for the type of coffee you desire – I was so excited to be “back” that I ordered two; the fruitier version as an espresso and the not so fruitier one as a piccolo.

 

Great of course. I started with the espresso and finished off with dessert – the piccolo.

After my coffees I wandered over for a chat to meet the baristi, Jake, who took my order and Aga, who prepared them. As Aga was busy making more great coffees, I had a chat with Jake, asking him about how long he had been working there and sharing with him my passion for coffee, etc. Very friendly, adding the experience of course. Before I left to rejoin the family, I noticed a delicious looking cake – I can’t remember now, but it had a rosemary and strawberry – very unique and the size of the slice was enough for two, so I bought that together with Square Mile’s Palestina Coffee for filter brewing.

Ah! so happy I went back and I pray it won’t be another 6 years before I visit. Still a great place for coffee and I think when I visit again, I’ll be doing more than just drinking coffee as I plan to start investigating adding the word “coffee” into my next career path, God willing.

So, is Prufrock my favourite coffee shop in the World? If I wanted to ask anyone or start a serious coffee career, they will top my list no doubt because I know that they are completely dedicated to coffee.

For more on offer at Prufrock, I defiantly recommend visiting their website; https://www.prufrockcoffee.com

A Beautiful Coffee Shop: Alchemy Coffee, Dubai

Sometimes you just drop into a coffee shop and think Wow! what a space, and that’s what happened when I visited Alchemy Coffee in Dubai last month. I had heard about this coffee shop since last summer when we visited but we ran out of time and I missed the opportunity. As they say, good things or should I say, good coffee, comes to those who wait. As you enter, you know, as they articulated on their website that they wanted you to enter a space that feels like home. Alchemy have progressed from the so called Starbucks “home away from home” space, as you feel like you are home. It helps that this coffee shop is definitely a converted Miami style house with very clean lines, including a plunge swimming pool outside (not for coffee drinkers), but it adds to the ambience.

As you enter the front door, on the right is this beautiful info graphic;

which is actually their drinks menu – the only thing missing is the price for each drink.

To the left is the brew bar, with all the filter options (hario V60, aeropress, chemex, kalita, etc) and of course a Synesso Espresso machine with Anfim grinder and Victoria Arduino Mythos grinder. Interesting enough, two baristi hailed from Uganda.

On the day we arrived, it was their first year anniversary – 6 April and they had a camera crew taking pictures and videos of their space plus a giveaway competition with first price a trip to an Ethiopian coffee farm for two (that would be ideal for me). It was also a bit busy so we had to wait for about 5 minutes before placing our order. My cousin went for something with milk – a beautifully poured cappuccino;

Latte art!

As it was later in the day, I wanted to try a filter coffee and wow! was I in for a real treat. Yes, almost like the elusive red sulphur – I had to do a double take – Did I see Yemeni coffee (the first country after Ethiopia to grow coffee and for which the coffee variety arabica comes from) on the menu, in front of me in a  very apt golden coffee bag. I was so stunned to see Yemeni coffee that I quizzed them as to where they got it from – their coffee comes from a local roaster, Cypher. In fact I wanted to buy a bag but as it was a special edition to coincide with their 1 year anniversary, it wasn’t for sale. In any case I chose for it to be brewed on a kalita, which I don’t usually have.

 

The flavour profile was typical Yemeni; spicy, with hints of dark chocolate and medium acidity. After a while I managed to persuade my cousin – not a coffee drinker – to try.

To accompany our coffees, we ordered scrumptious looking tarts and cakes – mine was Swiss almond (yes, typical me, I told the barista, chuckling that Switzerland don’t have almonds) and my cousin an orange polenta cake – but very yummy.

Their space is very clean – perhaps too clean for a normal house, unless you have guest coming over – which Alchemy have all the time, obviously.

In summary, a very nice space, with attention paid to detail in presentation , preparation and hospitality. Looking forward to my next visit insha’Allah.

visit their website on Alchemy

Brunch and Coffee @ Brew Cafe, Clapham, London

As many of you might know by now, if you sift through my Instagram page, you will know that I am not only passionate about coffee, but food and fashion too. In fact before coffee, it was food. When kids at school would be asked about their hobbies, I would always say art and food. So, in 2019, I’m going to be talking a bit more about food, especially my favourite meal of the day, BREAKFAST. For me, the ideal meal always involves good coffee and breakfast is so exciting because you start your day off with it.

Located on 45 Northcote Street, about 7 minutes walk away from Clapham Junction Railway Station, Brew Cafe is a very busy cafe, as there are not many cafes like it in this area. We arrived there around 1030am on a Sunday morning and luckily we didn’t have to queue for long – about 15 minutes. Typical of a London morning in March, it was a bit cold and cloudy, but as there were 4 of us and we didn’t want to wait an additional 15 minutes, we sat outside with blankets. Within a few minutes the queue started and it was obvious that it is very popular with young couples.

First up, I knew I wanted coffee and found out that they get their coffee from Allpress Espresso – one of New Zealand  premier coffee roasters, who opened up in London about 9 years ago in East London. Already familiar with their name, I could safely order coffee. So, I went for a cappuccino, brewed on their La Marzocco Linea machine;

As you approach their cafe, they have a placard outside, saying “best coffee in London”. I’m not sure about that but I may give them my “best coffee in Battersea” award. The coffee was well prepared and worth the wait. Now, whenever I stay with my brother, who lives about 7 minutes away, I know where to come and get a good cup of coffee before delving into London.

Now, to the food. This was confusing because they have so many nice things to order; Turkish eggs, which my daughter and brother went for; Sweetcorn fitters with tomato jam – tempting; folded eggs, which my son ordered; blueberry pancakes… and more. In the end, I went for Hake and Crab Fishcakes topped with poached eggs and hollandaise with spinach under their “big plates” section;

Yum! See the full order below, with my side of smashed avocado. My son’s folded eggs must be the largest egg dish I have seen served at a cafe or restaurant and if you are really hungry, I would definitely recommend that – it must have been at least 4 eggs.

But there’s more. Based on their focus to order fresh and use very high quality producers, there are a lot more tempting things on their menu, which I would love to sample another day, especially their desserts and cakes – I ordered a take away New York blueberry cheesecake for my wife, but they have carrot cake, red velvet cake and even better you can order the whole cake to take home and you know I love desserts.

In summary, a great place to have brunch, breakfast, lunch and dinner – for the latter, their branch in Chiswick (pronounced Chissik) have specials in conjunction with La Luna cinema and offer wood fired pizzas too. I’m really looking forward to visiting again and you know how much I love a place that is passionate about preparing coffee as well as food. Definitely, one of the type of places I would like to own in the future God willing, well done Brew Cafe.

Check them out on http://brew-cafe.com

 

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