London Coffee stop over, January 2023

Last month I was in London again, partly because our daughter graduated from her masters in sustainable development – proud parents, praise God. Naturally, the graduation was one day but of course I took advantage of staying in freezing London for at least 6 days before heading back to Dubai to spend time with family and friends and drink good coffee of course.

Brickwood Cafe, 21 Battersea Rise, Clapham

I stopped in here for my first coffee of my trip to meet with my sister briefly as she was about to fly back to the States, so I ordered a corn bread benedict and a flat white. Brickwood still use Ozone Coffee, so you know it’s going to satisfy not just your caffeine thirst but your taste buds too. I’ve been here a few times as it’s just around the corner from where I stay in London.

The Gentlemen Baristas, 162 Piccadilly, Green Park

After an early start, where I had to meet a client, I opted to meet my wife and daughter at this cafe, where I’ve been before. As you enter, it is quite busy but what I liked was the Italian style greeting by one of the staff, who took our order due to the long lunch time queue and served us as we seated by the window. I opted for a cappuccino and my daughter for an Americano – her new go to for coffee. Their coffee is more on the dark roasted side, so expect dark chocolate notes with milk based coffee. Prego.

Arome Bakery, 27 Duke Street – opposite Selfridges – West End

Hanging out with my daughter, a keen foodie, I gracefully accompanied her to a Japanese bakery on her list. Sadly most of the delicious pastries and cakes that grace their instagram feed had sold out, so whilst she opted for a Japanese chicken savoury croissant, I noted that they had a three group La Marzocco Linea at the back, asked them about their coffee and ordered a cortado. The Japanese tend to favour a darker roast for espresso based coffee so I knew it would be give me a milk chocolate vibe, which it did. Good for pastry and coffee.

Kafi Cafe, 20 Cleveland Street, West End

Last summer I stopped at their pop-up shop at Lush on Oxford Street and decided this time to visit their actually coffee shop, which is quite quaint (attractively unusual) and small that you could easily walk past it. Hanging out with my brother on yet another sub-zero day in London, we ordered a cortado for me and a flat white for him. Kafi brew espresso on a La Marzocco Strada and use HasBean coffees – one of the OGs of specialty coffee in the UK so you won’t be disappointed. They have a strong vegan feel and some small bites, so stop here to grab coffee as sitting will be difficult – they literally have space for about 6 people inside and bench outside (good for the summer and spring I guess).

Rosslyn Coffee, 118 London Wall, City of London

So, I’ve saved the best for last. I first heard of Rosslyn a few years back and made a coffee geek inspired journey to their first coffee shop a few years back – read here. Recently voted best independent coffee shop in Europe, they now have three shops, centred in the City of London – i.e. where all the top banks, law firms, hedge funds are located. So, if you are having a high powered meeting and trying to cut a deal in a friendly good coffee setting, try their branch at Moorgate Station or London Wall. My daughter and I ordered a Long Black and Flat White respectively.

For milk based it was deffo milk chocolate with hints of hazelnuts. I went over to the head barista, Miles, and after highlighting my coffee geekiness, he took me around the back to show me their newish La Marzocco KB90 and their work flow. The most intrigue g thing for me and for him too, was the Uber Milk machine, which can now froth milk to a very high barista standard automatically, lessen the work flow when they have a huge influx of customers at peak times – they already have like 2/3 baristi. I was glad for the tour, walked around a bit, shot a video and left.

There you have it, a quick tour guide of some new places to drink coffee when you’re out and about in London. Please share any new places in the comments below.

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A New Coffee Shop in Dubai Mall: Hoof

Welcome

It seems like things just seem to get better with specialty coffee in Dubai. Back in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, people were asking me why I was moving to Dubai. Now, if I had said I was moving for the coffee, they would have laughed… but fast forward to 2022 and this could have been quite a credible decision.

I recall a few years ago I had a sort of “best coffee in a mall” award, which started with Caffe Del Doge in Cairo in 2008 (yes, 14 years ago) and which was subsequently won by cafes in Dubai, firstly with Common Ground, Mall of the Emirates. In fact my last post was a great contender, with not just a coffee shop but a roastery too. So, here we are with another contender, a coffee shop located in the largest shopping mall in the World, Dubai Mall.

Recently opened in Dubai Mall is Hoof, located in the very fancy Fashion Avenue on the top floor of Dubai Mall. A digression – Fashion Avenue is the part of Dubai Mall that has all the high end fashion designers like Dior, Gucci, Rolex, Prada, Cartier and Hermes just in case you want some guide posts.

Back to the coffee – I heard about Hoof whilst scanning through instagram during my trip to Marrakech and although I knew it was opening I didn’t even know it was live. So the very next day, after I arrived back in Dubai, I went to try it out and shamelessly I have to confess, I went thrice in 10 days. After all it is just around the corner from where I live.

As you enter, it is like an escape as the decor reminds me of a cave with what even looks like cave material – whatever that means – but it means stone. You can tell by the aesthetics that a lot of thought was given into designing this space, with the selection of the wood for the furniture, the arrangement of the place and the ambience. Their espresso machine is a Black Eagle and they usually play jazz.

They have a very minimalist look with a menu to go with it too. A small selection of breakfast items, served all day, together with desserts, puddings (very British ) and of course coffee, hailing from Sharjah’s premier roaster, Archers – known for sourcing fine coffees. For filter you can select a coffee scoring at 88-89 (very good) or 90+ (excellent) with a price variation of $8 to $16. On my first visit, I tried their 88+ coffees (Rwanda I think)

Beautifully served with attention to detail

On my second trip, I went for breakfast with a friend and I had their shakshouka, (eggs cooked in a tomato stew) which I rarely order, as my wife loves me making this for her almost every Saturday but this was just right – not too watery, and delicately flavoured.

I started this with their cortado. Usually when I go out in the morning, I have my coffee first but at home it is always after my meal.

The rabbit latteart

On my last visit, my wife and I went for dessert and I had the coconut pudding and she the chocolate fondant, which I see was very popular. Naturally, I finished it off with some filter coffee.

Hoof is a real “cove” of a place, where you can drink coffee like an ESCAPIST, so when you are visiting Dubai Mall and want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the shoppers, head over to the Fashion Avenue third level and visit Hoof and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Before I sign off, we asked why the name Hoof, and we were told that the owner loves horses and hence the “hoof” of the horse. I hope his horses appreciate this gesture.

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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