Tag Archives: Hario V60

The London Coffee Diary 2: Curators Coffee II

 Not too far from Mother’s Milk, and actually the street before, is Margaret Street, where you’ll find Curators Coffee Gallery on 51 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SG. For a history of Curators Coffee, see my post here. In summary, Curators Coffee is the brainchild of Catherine, former head barista at Kaffeine. Curators Coffee Gallery is the second location, right in the heart of London’s shopping universe.

BUT, before I tell you about this spot, let’s look at the word, CURATOR.

It’s linked to curate or curated, which for those who don’t sleep with a Dictionary under their pillow or I guess these days, have the Dictionary app on their mobile phone, means:

Someone who looks after something special like in a museum or a piece of art or who selects something special for a medium, like a website.

So perhaps, we can say that at Curators Coffee, they have paid particular attention to selecting their coffees and an how to present them, whilst looking after you or your taste buds.

The Entrance

The décor

It’s quite easy to walk by this spot, primarily because the decor is quite sombre – there are no bright lights announcing that you’ve arrived at this top coffee spot in the West End, nor is the entrance dominated by a lively crowd and loud music, accompanied by happy customers chatting at the top of their voice. The mood has been dictated, perhaps by the name, a gallery – well, here we have a gallery of coffee – and downstairs the wall is now littered with art. In addition, they’ve gone for low level lighting, a blue black mood and even though the ceiling is white, the shop floor only really lightens up on sunny days, where the Sun can easily peep through the ceiling window. But, don’t be fooled, where the decor can be sombre, but soothing, easy for you to escape, the coffee and attention to detail will awaken your coffee senses.

Equipment and Coffee

First up, for espresso drink lovers,  there’s a burgundy enclaved La Marzocco Strada, with corresponding Mahl Konig coffee grinders.

The Espresso Stuff

The Espresso Stuff

For coffee purists, the filter brew centre is dominated by copper designed Hario kettles, accompanied by a coffee menu sheet, where you can choose your coffee and style of preparation – chemex, hario V60 and aeropress.

The Brew Bar

The Brew Bar

The backdrop is dominated by coffees on offer and brew equipment to purchase. Curators tend to favour Nude Espresso Coffee Roasters (London based) as their in-house espresso blend but this is complimented, at least for the filter brew, with coffee from different English coffee roasters.

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Food and other Drinks

By curated, they have selected, tried and also offer coffee inspired cocktails – a strawberry one during the summer, which regularly sells out – trust me.


 On the food, there are sandwiches and salads, using exotic recipes, where the generous plates, reminiscent of Otto Lenghi cookbooks, are topped with colourful leaves, pomegranates, cranberries, various nuts, pulses and vegetables like sweet potato. Let’s not forget one of my faves, delectable cakes – I’m usually spoilt for choice on the sweet stuff as my tastebuds are lit up with excitement – banana and nut bread, carrot cake, brownies, pastries – ok, I’m getting carried away.

So why go..

Well for a start, the staff are friendly, know what they’re doing as one of the barista is a contestant for the latte art championships;

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Go girl!!!

I love coming here because I’m guaranteed well “curated” coffee and accompanying tasty delights in a relaxing atmosphere, where I can “escape”. I also use it as my primary meeting point to catch up with friends because the mood is so relaxed, especially downstairs, where you can easily spend hours just chatting.
 The staff aren’t going to hassle you to order every five minutes, but they don’t have to – once you pass by the till and see all that colourful food and smell the coffee, you’ll be heading downstairs, waiting for your order to be delivered to you.
So go get curated….

Brew Bar

  


The Best Coffee Shop in Vienna ?

A pretty bold statement to make, especially in a city that prides itself as containing a selection of the best coffee houses in Europe. Steeped in history, especially in coffee history, Vienna, Austria’s capital city has long been synonymous with coffee, BUT times have moved on. I may sound critical, but I must admit that when I first criticised the Viennese coffee culture way back in 2008, I got my letter published – WHY ? Because I felt and still feel that drinking coffee in the 21st Century should be about flavour, service and innovation and the editor of Conde Nast Traveller agreed. Moreover, having lived in Vienna for over 8 years until 2009, I never found any coffee shop, new or old serving properly brewed espresso. When I questioned them, they looked at me like what do you know – we are in Vienna and we know coffee – Well! No! you don’t if you don’t clean your group heads, extract 30ml of coffee in 10 seconds, etc. There were the odd exceptions like the Mocca Club (one of my first posts in 2007), but that shut down and the other was the local La Marzocco distributor (who confessed to me that Austria doesn’t know & appreciate espresso).

So, on hearing that Vienna would be hosting the World Barista Championships (WBC) in June 2012, I was nervous for the city – where would all the coffee tourists go to sample finely crafted espresso drinks and third wave style coffee.

Nevertheless, in late May 2012, I had to visit Vienna again and prior to my visit I contacted the Speciality Association of Europe (SCAE) for where to grab a really good coffee and they only had recommendation, Caffe Couture. Situated in the 9th District off Vienna, not far from the University and the Austrian MINT (where they make money), Caffe Couture, located on 9 Garnisongasse, can easily be missed, as there’s no signage annoucing its location. However, for coffee buffs like me, as I was walking by, I heard the sound of milk being frothed, looked into an auspicioulsy white decored shop and BANG, noticed a La Marzocco Strada (probably the most expensive espresso machine in the World and probably the most advanced) – OK! this must be it. Further along the left-hand side, I noticed more gadgetry, a brew bar, complete with an Uber boiler, Hario V60 station and an aeropress – I’ve arrived in a coffee shop in Vienna that’s taking coffee brewing to the 21st Century, Phew!.

 

Owned by former Austria barista champion and current coffee tasting champion, Georg Branny, Caffe Couture is probably, for me, the best coffee shop in  Vienna. His attention to detail, pure focus on espresso brewing techniques, as well as his quest to offer Cup of Excellence Coffee, brewed on a proper brew station, Georg is so sure of himself and his quality that he doesn’t have  a listed price for coffee – Yes! you read that right – there’s no published price for espresso coffee of any kind, so you can walk in there, order a cappuccino, and walk out without paying, but trust me, as soon as you taste what you have, you’ll turn right around and dig into your pockets – because the coffee you have just sipped is unlike any cup of coffee you’ll taste in Vienna, complete with exquisite latte art – his partner is also a latte art champion.

I was so excited, that I had an espresso macchiato and a V60 Cup of Excellence coffee – Finca La Picona from the Honduras/Nicaraguan border, prepared on the brew bar using the V60, served in a classy Bodum double-walled clear glass cup.

The next day, I took my mum for a cappuccino. With regards to taste profile, the coffee has been carefully selected to highlight cocoa notes when mixed with milk and hints of berries/cocoa when drank as a pure espresso. Georg, a pleasant and unassuming character with a friendly and warm smile, is trying to get the Viennese into the third wave culture of coffee by sourcing Cup of Excellence coffees from his bespoke coffee roaster, with the hope that more and more people will begin to order them, so I wish him luck and I’m very happy that Vienna has a place like this to treasure.

Needless to say, I was very happy to learn that the WBC after party was held at Caffe Couture – where else? and that Caffe Couture have just started coffee classes – now all the good stuff happens, just when I leave….

So, when in Wien (German spelling for Vienna), please, please visit Caffe Couture, if you like your espresso drinks to be prepared well.

 


My New Toy: The Hario V60

From the title, it sounds like I bought some sort of fast car or psychedelic machine, but as this is a blog about coffee, the Hario V60 is a piece of art but relates to coffee. It’s developed by a Japanese company and is a different form of coffee brewing. I’ve actually seen many similar devices before but did not really know what it was for, but after skimming through many websites, of which square mile coffee roasters (London), was one, there’s been a lot of buzz about the Hario version, with a cool name, the V60. In summary, it’s a simple brew method, but the Hario V60 design, won a Good Design award and actually does makes the coffee taste different. It’s more apt for precious coffees, which will enable you to taste the more fruity and subtle cocoa elements in well roasted coffee. So, you can imagine my delight when I walked into espresso lab in Cape Town and saw a batch of them now available. I thought about it for a week and then I was sold, and bought some Ethiopian Guji Sidamo to accompany my first experience. So, here’s a detailed account of how to brew. You need (i) scales to weigh the coffee (ii) your V60 (iii) unbleached filter paper (iv) a warm glass or carafe to let the coffee to filter into (v) a good grinder (vi) a kettle to boil the water and (vii) great coffee.

1. Whilst your water is boiling, weigh about 22g of arabica beans and pour into your grinder. Once the water is boiled, grind your beans on a setting above a moka grind setting – so not was fine as espresso and not as coarse as French Press; Pour into the filter paper, which should already be inside the V60

2. Measure out your hot water to about 280ml and pour in a circular motion onto the ground coffee – you should see a bloom

3. It should take about 2 – 3 minutes to brew through, by which time you should have about 280ml freshly brewed coffee

4. At the end, the V60 should look like this after the brewing process is complete

The above is just a guideline, but play around with the method if you get one. Enjoy the experience – the coffee should be light and easier to drink than a French Press. For the Ethiopian Guji I got berry and cocoa lingering tastes. I’ve just bought the organic Brazilian Sao Pedro. I’v been captivated by this method of brewing coffee and have to apologize to my lovely Bodum Columbia French Press, which hasn’t been used in about 2 weeks.