Category Archives: Coffee News

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

 

 


I was at the Lagos Coffee Festival: 5 October 2019

Sometimes you think about something and you talk about your ideas with someone and then it happens. All I can say is praise God. In short, I was introduced to Princess Adeyinka Tekenah, CEO of Nigerian based coffee solutions company, Happy Coffee and wow! her passion for coffee was incredible. I think our first conversation was close to an hour as we exchanged lots of ideas on coffee and how Nigeria can benefit from the World’s most popular beverage. She shared with me a video of when she met H.E. President Macron of France in late 2018, offering him a bag of Nigerian grown and roasted coffee beans. I subsequently shared the video on WhatsApp with all my relevant contacts. One of the ideas we mentioned was for Nigeria’s first coffee festival, similar to the ones across the World, especially the London Coffee Festival. Et voila, on 5 October 2019, it happened – now who says things take time in Africa. Well, not in this case and with coffee charged Yinka, who rounded up a team of planners, visited all potential sites, set up a company for the festival and a website, met with lots of potential sponsors around the country and just went for it with her “full of beans” determination.

So, here we were, after countless WhatsApp messages – the Lagos coffee festival, the first of its kind in Lagos. The main objective was not only to inform people about coffee in Nigeria but to also showcase small and medium enterprises involved one way or another with Nigerian coffee. We had products on offer that showcased coffee as a beauty product such as Damini (owned by NYC trained beautician that developed her products for herself and decided to sell them) and Coffeeskinpert 

In addition, there was the infamous, Asah Bara Designs by Zoza Icha, who brings art alive in her cup designs –

I say this, because I think her cups are too beautifully designed to drink from. You need to display them somewhere so that they can be appreciated. Needless to say, her stand was one of the most popular at the festival.

Also on show were coffee stalls, with ever popular My Coffee Lagos who had coffee and snacks on offer, which I couldn’t resist. In addition, there were artisanal bakers – I bought a peanut butter and banana cake – you know me and dessert; and also Merlyn Nutri, who offer healthy drinks and spices (I must confess their customer service was great, as they hand delivered some products that were not available together with some things for me to try, like their delicious zobo (hibiscus) and Tiger nut with ginger and dates drinks, thanks  Melody).

So, how about the coffee festival itself.

There were three panel sessions; the first focused on “opportunities in the coffee business: creating wealth through coffee”, which featured entrepreneurs who are already in the coffee business, like Yinka of Happy Coffee, Ms Adesola Gbadamosi – Coffeeskinpert founder and My Coffee Lagos owner, Ms Tatyana Buchak. The second focused on “Starting a Coffee based business” with the panel consisting mostly of people who have started non-coffee related businesses but giving tips on how to start a business and find a niche – the main exception was Ibrahim Samande of Mai Shayi Coffee. The third was on “Stakeholders in the Nigerian Coffee Economy: Defining the Coffee Value chain”, which I moderated – filmed entirely by my wife (who accompanied her crazed coffee husband to Lagos), with the panel consisting of Ms Bisola Olusanya, Special Adviser on Agriculture for Lagos State Government, Alhaji Olomide, President of the Nigerian National Association of Coffee and Tea Farmers (NAFCOTAN) and Mr Ejide Oladuoye, a coffee farmer.

This was probably the most apt session for me as I have written a bit about this lately, having attend the International Coffee Organisation SDG Session on this in June 2019 – read here. The main focus was to hear from the coffee farmers as to what their main challenges have been, including their problems with accessing domestic markets, let alone international markets. It was interesting to note;

  • 22 States in Nigeria already grow coffee (Nigeria was 36 states) and there could be more depending on the ecosystem.
  • According to the recent ICO Executive Director, Jose Sette, Nigeria is the 7th largest coffee growing country in the World and with a population of approximately 200m people, the focus should be on growing domestic consumption.
  • The government has put in place initiatives to promote the agricultural sector, including coffee.
  • Nigeria grows both robusta (mainly in the south) and arabica (spanning from the central to the north east).

However some gaps remain, like data on the value and output of coffee. Needless to say, some work needs to be done to determine the quality of Nigerian coffee, essential to tap international markets. All this will be really valuable information needed to entice the private sector to get more involved too. In fact that was one of the things I committed (coffee geek) – to develop a public private partnership (PPP) proposal involving both the Federal and Lagos State governments to facilitate the process for developing the Nigerian coffee industry, which may include exporting coffee, possibly through a coffee processing plant near the harbour – just thinking.

All in all, I really enjoyed myself and I was really encouraged by the energy of the panellist, the participants – we had over 70 in the last session and by the atmosphere. Driven by all this energy, I was hungry but more important, I was craving coffee – naturally I headed over to the Happy Coffee stand of course, where I had a double espresso – I had to, after all Yinka was their CEO.

In addition, I tried some coffee from the Mai Shayi stand, where the Syphon was on display. Later on, their CEO, Ibrahim Samande held the coffee appreciation session.

So, here’s looking forward to the Lagos Coffee Festival in 2020 and developing a PPP proposal to resuscitate the Nigerian coffee industry, which will now become one of my main personal projects. If anyone reading this, is really interested to join this ride, please contact me.

 


Please Sign The Coffee Pledge – 1 October 2019

I’ve written recently about the fact that the price of coffee is the lowest it’s been for over 15 years, meaning that coffee farmers are finding it so difficult to make a living from selling coffee that some of them have eve abandoned their farms to look for a job in order to feed their families and educate their children.

So 1 October is International Coffee Day – yes, there’s is as such a thing – and the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) together with some like minded partners have launched the Coffee Pledge, so please sign the #coffeepledge that calls for a living wage for coffee farmers.

Some the World’s top coffee roasts have already signed something similar – see below and congratulations to them too.

 

In addition, just also week on 23 September 2019 at the first ever Global CEO and Leaders of the Coffee Forum, the “London Declaration” was signed, committing;

“to taking action focusing on four themes: promoting competitive and sustainable production; fostering responsible and equitable growth; promoting responsible consumption; and promoting public-private dialogue regarding policy development.”

see link here to read more.

In any case this is historic and as we say in the project management world, all we need to do now is ‘implement, implement and implement” so that everyone in the coffee value chain gets a fairer treatment.

Here’s looking to a fairer world for commodities especially for the second most tradeable one, coffee, as we need everyone involved in getting this most popular of beverages on to our table to benefit as much as possible.

 

 


I was at the SDG Coffee Symposium on 6 June 2019

 

Organised by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) on 6 June to discuss the challenges of the coffee value chain during historically low coffee prices. I was invited by Gerardo Patacconi, Director of Operations. I know some of my readers are wondering is there such an organisation, yes there is and….

The ICO is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing Governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. Its Member Governments represent 98% of world coffee production and 67% of world consumption.

The ICO sounds like the kind of place that for me, as a development economist who loves coffee would like to work in and yes I confess that it is one of the places I would love to work in, especially located in my fave coffee capital in the World, London. Anyway I digress.

More on the jargon – the SDG stands for “sustainable development goals” and are sometimes known as the Global Goals. In any case they were initiated through the United Nation (UN) and are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

So, this Symposium was organised together with the European Coffee Federation and hosted by the European Commission (EC) bringing together coffee sector stakeholders (buyers, farmers, academia, civil society, partners) and is part of ICOs sector wide consultation that will lead hopefully to a roadmap with concrete actions to address the coffee price crisis and volatility, which has resulted in affecting coffee farmers livelihoods and which will eventually, if left unchecked, affect the sustainability of the coffee industry.

In summary, coffee prices are very low at the moment, whereby you can buy a pound (.453kg) bag of coffee greens for about US$1 at the world commodity price. Price varies with quality and with type (robusta/arabica), but a few years back it was double that (in 2010 it was three times this around US$3 per pound), which means that coffee farmers have seen a 50% drop in their income depending on other factors. Initially, you may be thinking like I did, hold on; “my specialty coffee roaster sells a kilo for about US$30 but only pays US$1 or up to US$3, so the roaster is king”. In fact, in a recent Financial Times article it was calculated that for each US$3 (UKGBP2.50) for a cappuccino, the roaster got 10p and the roaster 1p – yikes.

 

This seems very unfair and unsustainable, but there are other factors and as I mentioned on my linkedIn article on “coffee and economics”;

Perhaps the big players should consider diverting some of the profits to;

  • coffee research into new varieties to address climate change
  • investment for the local communities such as centralised washing stations and hence clean water, like Stumptown did – see “A Film about Coffee”
  • investment in transport access,
  • promotion of the crop in the local communities especially with the youth, which are running away from coffee farming. Use social media,etc.
  • educating the communities in life skills, even entrepreneurial skills.

On point (i) and (ii), Starbucks highlighted that they work with 450,000 coffee farmers and have supported research to create 400 varietals of which 5 have been released on farm trials.

On the point (v) and in general, I really believe, that the more you give the more you will get back. It runs through some of the points I have raised under my #honestmanagement series, if you show respect to your employees (and in this case we can say coffee farmers), you will foster loyalty and they will go the extra mile to grow the best coffee.  Whoever in the coffee chain has the most and in any industry they will know who they are, should really think about how the coffee industry can be sustainable for future generations – after all there is no doubt that the demand for coffee is constantly growing, so there will always be a market for it.

In summary, for coffee lovers we want everyone to get a fair deal for the best of our planet. We know that low coffee prices “never” translate to lower prices for our daily cappuccinos or flat whites, pour overs, etc, but at least those at the source, the farmers should benefit somehow, if not we will all loose out.

In short it was a very interring symposium for me, looking at the other side – away from my traditional view (cafes and quality) to the upstream side, where it all starts from the farm. That’s my take for now, but I’m working on this as a side project, so I’m welcome to any more ideas.

Sources

FT Article

http://www.ico.org

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/coffee-economics-lameen-abdul-malik/?published=t


I was @ Kaldi Coffee, Lagos (Nigeria)

I first heard of Kaldi Coffee early in 2018, when they liked one of my coffee photos on Instagram and was so intrigued by their concept that I told everyone I knew in Nigeria to look out for their coffees, which can be bought at the duty free, supermarkets and of course at their shops. In any case, I promised to visit them when I visited Nigeria again, which happened in December 2018. So, on my last few hours in Lagos and with the mad traffic in Lagos, it was beginning to look extremely slim that I would make it, but due to the kindness of one of my cousins, who resonated with my coffee passion, she loaned me her car and driver and I headed off to Ilupeju – near Ikeja – the part of Lagos that the airport is located in.

As I finally arrived, I was met by a very enthusiastic Dr Nasra Ali – the main owner of Kaldi coffee. I presume she was excited to meet a fellow coffee geek. We headed over to have a coffee first – I was really looking forward to my first good cup of coffee in Nigeria after 10 days (most of it was spent in Abuja and the remaining 2 days in Lagos only). Prepared on a La Marzocco GB5, using of course Kaldi’s coffee beans.

So, what is the story behind Kaldi Africa. First of all, I presume everyone knows the story about Kaldi and if you don’t, click on my page – a Brew beginning (the story about how coffee started) at the top. In any case, Dr Nasra Ali is actually a doctor, formerly of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – the United Nations organisation in charge of health, where she was working until she met her husband to be, a businessman of Greek origin, who resided in Nigeria – you see the connection. In any case, coffee runs in Nasra’s family bloodline, as they were behind Kenya and perhaps Africa’s biggest coffee chain, Java House (see my post here). So, when presented with an idea of setting up a business in Nigeria, it was obvious. In her own right, she’s a trained barista and roaster and has the Nigerian license for distributing my favourite espresso coffee machine maker, La Marzocco and have SCAE recognition.

So, Nasra, doesn’t compromise on quality. Kaldi’s focus is on sourcing good coffee from Africa and they have started trying to resuscitate the Nigerian coffee industry – yes, there is one. This is very commendable, because she could easily just buy Kenyan and Ethiopian coffees from Eastern Africa and ignore West Africa, but she didn’t and also sources coffee from nearby Cameroon too. So, now for the tour;

Nasra showed me her coffee factory. First the tasting and barista room, where she has a few espresso machines (La Marzocco of course), grinders, brewing equipment and the Ikawa mini-roaster.

Then we went to the heart – the roasting room, which houses two Probat Coffee Roasters – wow!

If you view her Instagram Feed, you will see what she went through to get this factory from an empty dusty room to this gleaming roast factory – truly amazing and I was very impressed.

On the business side, Nasra has started roasting for hotels and restaurants – I visited Krispy Kreme Lagos, who are one of her customers –

Met with Edouard Sassine, who offered me the opportunity to start a coffee roasting company with him – extremely tempting, I must say. In any case, Nasra is so generous, that she is willing to develop a roast blend for each of her customers beyond her own trusted espresso blend. If you cannot visit, you can also buy their coffees on line – 250g starting for the equivalent of $7.8 and there’s even more – something I’ve never seen. You can order your coffee as greens or roasted in three different profiles of light, medium and dark. As a coffee geek, you could order the same coffee in three different roast profiles, even though I’d omit the “darker” version. They also sell chocolate and tea, gadgets, coffee cups, brewing equipment, grinders and espresso machines. Nasra offered me two coffee bags and hot chocolate and I grabbed the Nigerian and Cameroonian coffees, which I brewed as espresso.

On services, they have three different types of barista courses, so ideally, any serious retail outlet or business that wants to start a coffee business in Lagos – a city soon to be the largest in Africa with over 20 million people, there’s no real reason to serve substandard coffee. They can also be contacted to serve great coffee at events if needed. Read more about Kaldi on http://kaldiafrica.com

Nasra was so conscious of me missing my flight back to Abuja that my very intriguing visit was all over in less than an hour and as my wife knows, I can literally chat about coffee for hours. So, I reluctantly left, but guess what ? What should have been a 15 minutes ride to the airport, took a whopping 90 minutes and if my flight left on time, I would definitely have missed it – things I do for coffee.

I was really intrigued by my visit and seeing the passion in my eyes, Nasra, ever so giving, offered to help me start a coffee roasting business in Nigeria – I can’t even imagine anyone offering to train a competitor, but I think she’s so giving and I was really tempted – perhaps I’ll add that to my wish list or should I say dream list, plus I would really like to explore the possibility of helping Nigerian and other African coffee farmers get more recognised and up the quality of their coffee – anyone interested, please feel free to contact me.

Until then, if you ever visit Lagos, please stop by but not on your way to the airport and it’s probably best on the weekend or in the morning, when there’s less traffic.

Well done Nasra and here’s to working with you to help Nigerian and African coffee producers.


I was at Jonas Reindl Cafe & Roastery, Vienna

So, this is part two to my earlier post, where I wanted to expand more on Vienna’s latest in city coffee roaster, Jonas Reindl Cafe and Roastery, recently opened on Westbahnstrasse 13, in the 7th district. As I mentioned this is an unusual feat as the City of Vienna have very strict rules about roasting coffee in the city, especially near residences. In any case, as they say “never say impossible, but rather say, I’m possible”.

A bit about the roaster himself – Philip – who I had known for a while on the many occasions that I had visited their first shop, Jonas Reindl Cafe, located at Wahringerstrasse 2-4, opposite the Votivkirche. I asked him about their journey towards becoming a roastery, something they had hinted at for about a year on their instagram feed. I have been saying for a while, based on my experience of my one and only cafe that the real winners in the coffee supply chain are the coffee roasters – why? because if you have ambitions to open more than 2 cafes, then the coffee roaster is very happy – sorry, this isn’t a dig at coffee roasters, who I really appreciate and respect a lot in the coffee game (they are the ones that make the cherry taste great if brewed properly) but when you look at the figures, then if you can and want to really extend your survival then you have to enter the supply chain earlier. If you can guess, my next coffee dream is to get into he coffee supply chain and roast one of these days God willing. I just need to invest in my dream, so anyone reading that has any ideas we can work on together, contact me please.

In any case, Philip mentioned that he has attended some coffee roasting classes but the crux for me, was that he also spent time with the guys at Prufrock Coffee (read about them here) still for me one of the best cafes in the World. Ironically, Prufrock are not coffee roasters (they get their coffee from one of my fave roasters, Square Mile Coffee) but they defiantly know what to look for in coffee. In short, I was impressed with Philip’s attention to detail.

On equipment, as you can see, they have the classic 12kg Probat Coffee Roaster, with all the digital gadgets and you can even witness them roasting on site if you are lucky too.

Now, the coffees. I really loved the packaging, which has the new age coffee bag housed in this lovely box, explaining on the side the origin of the coffee, etc – see below.

 

I already mentioned about my cafe experience in my previous post but what did it taste like at home… good.

However, the one thing that was really distinctive was the SMELL. When I opened the bags of their coffee, I was hot with this sumptuous aroma – it instantly took me back to the late noughties (2000-2009), when I started falling in love with coffee. So, that was the first tick for me.

On the taste I wasn’t let down as it lived up to my expectations – good coffee roasted well with attention should taste well if brewed properly. I bought espresso and filter coffees, which I enjoyed very much.

On the espresso, they were full bodied from Central America, and tasted milk chocolate with underlying notes of dark dried fruits.

The filters, from Africa (Kenya and Ethiopia) were very fruity with a good mouth feel with medium and not over powering acidity. I always like Kenyan coffees in the filter but must confess when I get a natural Ethiopian it is exciting because different cups and different brewing styles (Hario V60 or aeropress) can give different taste profiles.

I also started experimenting with different grinding styles – moving slight more coarser for the V60, which gave a much more fruity feel.

The good thing about their coffees is that you don’t have to live in Vienna to sample them, as they now have an online shop and offer wholesale, so check them out here http://www.jonasreindl.at

 

 


London Coffee Report 2018

I cannot see the end of 2018 without sharing a brief report of my coffee experiences in my favourite coffee city, London. Although I spent the least amount of days in London in 2018 that I have done in the past few years, I tried my best to try at least two new spots, so lets’ start with these.

When in the City of London, try Rosslyn Coffee, 78 Queen Victoria St, London EC4N 4SJ 

By the City of London, I don’t mean the actually city. If you visit London and ask them how do I get to the city, they will direct you to the square mile area, which was originally the “city gate” of London. There’s actually a brick wall, mostly destroyed, around this square mile, which now hosts the financial area of London and perhaps Europe. It is also where most of money is made in London, according to some stats. To get to this coffee shop, take the northern or central line to Bank, the station next to the Bank of England – you couldn’t get more “city like” than this. From the station, I highly recommend using goggle maps to get tot he cafe like I did, as there are many streets in this vicinity. However, if you work in the city, then you’ll know how to get there – it’s not far from the Bloomberg HQ.

So now, time for coffee

 

This is actually a picture of a clock in the cafe. A small spot, designed to churn out coffee at high speed to a busy on the go crowd on their synesso espresso machine coupled with batch brew coffee on the go. There won’t be much time for any chit chat with the staff, order, wait, pick up and go. If you have a bit of time, facing the till, look to your right and you can buy some coffee to take home (roasted for them), which I did – their espresso blend to be precise. In any case, I ordered a cortado, being mid-afternoon – a milk chocolate taste – the standard, carefully prepared.

Also on offer, are pastries and brownie bars. If you have a bit of time, which you should always have for coffee – have your coffee in a porcelain cup (it taste much better) and sit on some high stools before that important meeting. If you are lucky and if they have time, chat with the staff, which I did, with one of the owners, James, formerly of Caravan Coffee (who opened this spot with Mat, also formerly of Caravan Coffee). Highly recommended if you are in the city and want some coffee well prepared with no frills.

The Best Coffee in Balham: Story Works, 31 St John’ s Hill vs  Birdhouse Coffee 123 St John’s Hill, London SW11 1SZ

Actually I didn’t give them that acclaim but it was awarded to them by a reviewer. The main reason I was here was because I stayed with my brother in Clapham and by default I just head into the city for my specialty coffee fix without checking if there’s anything worthy in this part of London. So, one Sunday morning, I decided to google and having scanned some reviews and pics of shops, I decided on two – Story works (the smaller version of Story coffee) and birdhouse. I must confess when I checked the pics, I was bias towards Story Coffee, with their bright looking shop and their Kees van der Westen Spirit machine. I thought they must know what they are doing, plus it was in much closer proximity to my brothers house.

At Story Works, opposite the Clapham Junction Railway Station, I’m not sure if they had a trainee by himself on Sunday but I already started getting nervous when I asked him some basic coffee questions like type of coffee and commented in the machine. I also timed the shot and heard the manner in which the milk was frothed and eventually poured – let’s just say I dint even bother to take a picture and after a few sips, I’m sorry to say, I couldn’t finish the coffee and left hanging with coffee withdrawal symptoms. That’s why I decided to take the other 6-7 minutes of walking up hill to birdhouse, where I passed by the original Story Coffee on 115 St John’s Hill, which was quite packed as they offer enticing looking food, but another time.

As you enter, I must say, there is absolutely no frills. It’s reminisce of a classic general shop, grey and hints of yellow, nothing special, but I wasn’t here to take pics of their decor, but to taste their coffee, prepared using one grinder and a La Marzocco Linea. After my not so amusing experience at Story Coffee, I was already sceptical, but it paid off and I must confess after this beautifully crafted cappuccino, I was thinking “the best coffee in Wandsworth” as one reviewer mentioned might not be off the mark.

Also on offer is food, so you can brunch and lunch too – check goggle for some enticing looking food to savour.

One proviso, to be fairer I plan to try Story Coffee next time when in this area, but for now Birdhouse wins.

Coffee and the Best Banana Bread – Saint Espresso Kentish Town and Baker Street

I know I went here last year but it is a good spot to meet family in this part of London. So you can probably guess how my family conversations go”where can we meet Lameen?” “a coffee shop but let me choose and tell you where”. If we are going to meet, let me take control and chit and chatter over good coffee and cakes, so we were back here again – family gathering over lots of coffee and some hot chocolate too.

Coffee was good but I must confess the banana bread was the best I’ve had and I let the chef know too.

On another occasion, I tried their coffee shop at Baker’s Street (located at 214 Baker St, Marylebone, London NW1 5RT), which is smaller for my daily cappuccino fix.

As you enter, you can pick up gadgets and coffee and as you approach the counter, there’s lots of treats (cakes, pastries, etc) to choose from before your coffee is made on their customised black linea La Marzocco machine. I met their manager, Rustam Baratov, who was very hospitable and we exchanged contacts.

 

When in the West End again – Notes Coffee, Bond Street Station and Grind Soho, 19 Beak St, Soho, London W1F 9RP but of course

But of course…. I’ve got to add the to go places. My first stop since 2017 has been Notes coffee located at Bond street underground station because it is just where we always end up as soon as we arrive in London – the West end. You are guaranteed a good cup of coffee, whether espresso based or batch brew and there’s always tempting sweet bites and friendly staff for a more pleasant experience.

 

Another place in the heart of the West End is soho and for coffee, Soho Grind. During the summer they were celebrating their tenth anniversary, which meant a fantastic batch brew and by fantastic, I mean juicy mouthfeel, balanced acidity, fruity – so good I went back not twice but thrice. In fact it was so good I wanted to buy a bag or tin (Grind sell their coffees in tins) but it was so special that if they had a price, it would have been one I would  have had to hide from my wife, ha!. In any case it wasn’t for sale, just for their customers to enjoy over and over again, until it ran out – lucky me and my taste buds.

So there we are my London coffee report just in time before we hit 2019 God willing.

All the best for the new year; don’t drink too much…. coffee and here’s to more great coffee shops opening in London in 2019, enjoy!