Tag Archives: Harrods

I’m Still Drinking Andronicas Coffees

I’m pleased to report that when it comes to customer service, america does not have the monopoly, judging by my second experience of buying coffee from Andronicas. My first experience was when I visited their coffee shop in the World famous department store, Harrods in London. I ordered a double espresso macchiato, which I wasn’t charged for and then they even gave my son a free mini hot chocolate. OK ! now for my second experience. Not to be defeated in my quest to try more of their coffees, I decided to persevere when reading through their website they state that coffees will be delivered anywhere, but of course on trying to order, it was not recognizing my Vienna address, so I wrote once and then again and again until they said “sure we can send coffee to you in Austria”. I think due to the financial crisis, where the exchange rate has moved in favour of buying stuff from England, lots of companies are more than willing to sell stuff to continental Europe and I for one, am doing that with a passion – I’ve been ordering my coffee from abroad since January this year. So, enough of the economics (my main subject at University I hasten to add) and marketing, how about the customer service and the coffee.

Well, I ordered about 750 grammes of coffee, comprising of their 1849 Espresso Blend, Brazilian Bourbon and of course Yemeni Mocha (which I loved, see previous post). I didn’t know that Andronicas only sell coffee in batches of 500g a time, but when I ordered it so happened that one of the main guys, James was visiting Vienna and decided to bring my order with him, saving me postage expenses. On top of what I ordered, he added an extra 1 kilo of coffee, notably their Signature Blend and doubles of what I ordered for FREE. Wow ! I even felt guilty and wanted to pay for the extra bags, but my request was turned down. Now ! that’s what I call customer service. Well, it paid off, because as soon as this first batch finished, I of course ordered more, with one colleague even placing an order, so during these hard items, never forget the customer even more – my one lesson for getting through the financial crisis for retail outfits.  

Gee ! I almost forgot about the coffee itself. So, first up was the 1849 Espresso blend, which I thought had a chocolate and nutty taste. Again, I find these type of coffees are best served as espresso milk based drink, so the type of coffee that you need to start your day off with.

Second up, it just got better, the Brazilian Yellow Bourbon, which apparently is a Cup of Excellence coffee. I’ve always thought that espresso with some sort of Brazilian arabica thrown in does it for me. I recall that my best espresso to date was from Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Espresso blend, which constituted some Brazilian arabica. So for this coffee, roasted darkish, whereby the oils begin to seep out of the bean and cover the bean, I detected a sweetish espresso – ideal for after dinner and Yes ! I do drink espresso after dinner and it doesn’t keep me awake – yipee !

And finally, the Signature Blend. Very versatile as both an espresso, full of crema and an espresso based milk drink, with dark chocolate tones, vanilla and hazelnut aroma and hazelnut/intense milk chocolate taste – the kind of cappuccino that brings a smile to your face before jumping into the rat race in the morning.

 

I also liked it after dinner with it’s full crema qualiities. For one shot, the crema was so inviting that I had to take it through the sugar test, in which it socred very highly, taking 12 seconds for white sugar to drop below the crema cloud and about 6 seconds for dark brown sugar to drop through.

I already told you about the Yemeni Mocha, which I had to blog about separately because it tasted so good. For my next order, I ordered 1 kg of Signature blend for espresso drinks and 1kg of Yemeni Mocha for French Press, so I’ll still be drinking Andronicas coffees for a while yet and guess what, the customer service was still great.

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I’m Drinking A Special Coffee…. Yemeni Mocha

Before I delve into the details of my current coffee experience, I thought that I’d give a very brief background on the coffee called Mocha. In short, the name Mocha comes from the old Yemeni port called al-Muka and was given to one of the first types of arabica coffees because it had…. mocca qualities. OK this isn’t a typo – by “mocca” I mean, chocolate like qualities. Tasting and drinking this type of coffee, provided that of course, it is made properly, should remind you of chocolate and it is no surprise that in most cafes, a mocca is typically a chocolate infused milk-based espresso drink made with additional cocoa powder or in more fancy places with chocolate syrup like Monin or Torani. Anyway back to history – mocca coffee originated from the Sidamo region in Ethiopia but it has come to represent the type of coffee grown in Yemen – the first place to grow coffee outside coffee’s home in Ethiopia. Most experts still reckon that the best mocca type coffee still comes from Yemen but similar tasting coffee can naturally be found in Ethiopia. Sadly for lovers of Yemeni coffee, coffee is being grown at a lesser scale in Yemen, meaning that what comes from Yemen is not only getting smaller in quantity but of course higher in price. The main reason for this concerns money of course and politics and so I will not proceed as this is not a blog for politics but from a coffee point of view it is very sad.

Anyway back to that scarcity thing. So, as you can imagine, when I was scanning Andronica’s World of Coffee website to buy some coffee to try, I was delightedly excited to see Yemeni Mocha on the list. I thought, if Andronicas have been supplying top quality coffee for the World famous Harrods of London then they ought to have this very special coffee. So, being a bit cautious and mindful of my pocket, I ordered 500g, to be roasted between medium (in order to bring out both a rich taste) and dark (bringing out the mocha or should I say chocolate tones). I also knew that for this special coffee, the brew of choice would have to be filter as I find this method tends to favour really rich coffees, witness El Portillo and Costa Rica Don Mayo (see previous posts this year). A further step, to make sure that I absolutely got the measurements spot on I wanted to follow the experts; so first up, I recall an e-mail I received from Anette of Square Mile Coffee (London) in which she advised me to use about 12 grammes of freshly ground coffee per 250ml/grammes of just of the boil hot water  and secondly, wait for it, weigh the water as opposed to measuring it. You may not know this, unless you are a top chef, but weighing your liquids is more accurate, so I did that at home on my electronic scales. However, I was even more lucky, because I didn’t have to through the agony of memorizing where and when to stop pouring water nor weighing freshly ground coffee, during the absence of scales at the office because my Solis Maestro Coffee grinder grinds exactly 12 grammes of coffee if you put it on setting “2” and my treasured Bodum Columbia French Press, takes exactly 250ml of hot water if you fill it almost to the top with the massive crema/foam sitting on top. Luck me eh ?  

Oh ! look at that filter coffee crema – dark, mysterious and bubbly, waiting to be drunk by moi.

Well ! I’m more than glad to report that it was more than worth it. Wow ! what a taste. Even before the bag was opened you are already promised what would be a great taste because the aroma is just wonderful – what every coffee should smell like – chocolate and nutty with a smell that goes up through your nostrils and begins to wet your appetite. The taste is like bitter sweet chocolate rolling over your tongue with “real” coffee and the taste lasts in your mouth for at least an hour undisturbed. My colleagues at work got so used it, that they would come rushing to my room as soon as it began to brew. One colleague called it the best coffee she had tasted and even after she had shared it with half a cup of hot milk – the taste was so powerful, piercing through the milk. Another colleague was so impressed that she got me to order 500g for her, which she plans to hide in her house away from her kids as she doesn’t think they’ll appreciate it, mistaking it for shelf stuff. When I gave her the bill, I said “it’s a bit expensive”, but she said “it’s worth it”. 

OK ! how do I end this ? Well ! I can tell you that I’ve ordered another 500g from Andronicas – check out their web shop on my blog roll and if you visit London, go to Harrods, 4th floor and buy some bags. My main contact at Andronicas is so kind to me that he has given me a discount on both occasions when I bought this online to be delivered in Vienna, making this coffee experience one of my best buying experiences of the year. As you know, I love variety and I’m always in the hunt for new coffees, rarely drinking the same coffee for more than 2/3 weeks in a row, but for this I’ve made an exception and will be drinking Yemeni Mocha for what will be almost 2 months in a row, at least in the afternoon after lunch, but due to the scarcity and the good guys at Andronicas, it’s worth it…. a very special coffee indeed.


I’m Drinking…. Harrod’s Coffee

If you know me, you know that I cannot go to London, see freshly roasted coffee from someone I trust and not buy it. So, when I went to Harrods and the guy at Andronicas told me that in the Harrods Food Hall I could buy freshly roasted coffee, I ran down with my son and bought two 250 bags of coffee, one was Mocha Italia and the other Mountain Blend. A word of caution – when you go to the Harrods Food Hall, look for the counter stacked with gold coloured tins of coffee, which should contain coffee beans, freshly roasted by Andronicas and supplied once a week to Harrods. If you peep over the counter and look at the back, you will see the original bags from Andronicas as if to confirm the coffees are viable. I mention this word of caution, because you can also buy Harrods Coffee from beautiful designed tins, which will be already ground. Yes ! these tins look nice and good to give as presents, but for coffee geeks, this coffee might not be up to the standard, so go for the good, and buy the fresh stuff from the speciality counter. I also want to add Harrods have about 5 cafes, including the Andronicas World of Coffee cafe on the 4th floor, which I recommend. In any case, I promise to do a “Drinking coffee in Harrods” post one of these days God willing.

 

I started with the Mountain Blend, which as far as I can remember from the sales assistant had a mix of Central and South American coffees. I found it sweet with caramel undertones and although it was fine for an espresso, I preferred it as a milk based espresso drink like a Cappuccino and Caffe Latte, where I find the caramel taste really compliments the milk.

On tasting the Mocha Italia the exact first impression was wait for it….”nice”. OK ! what does that mean Lameen ? It was full bodied, glossed my tongue, went down right and made my tummy tingle – does that make sense or does that make me sound “bean” crazy ? OK ! Mocha Italia is exactly what is says. It has a mocha or chocolate taste and definitely reminds me of drinking coffee in a typical Italian cafe.

To finish off, this coffee, extracted as an espresso had a nice thick brown crema, keeping the sugar on top for a few seconds before sinking in. I’m going to have to give Harrods my “best place to buy really fresh roasted coffee in a Department Store” award because the other department stores I’ve been to did not sell freshly roasted coffee and the coffee from Harrods passes the test for freshnest, courtesy of the guys from Andronicas of course.


Bean There – New Coffee Shops in London

When my mum offered to take the family to London for a week during the Xmas period I thought “Great, one week away in good old London” and then I thought “Hey ! now I can check those coffee shops that I missed in London last summer”. So to start of the “New” Year, I guess it is apt that I start of with “New” coffee shops in my favourite coffee city, London.

MILK BAR, 3 BATEMAN STREET, SOHO

So, as promised in my post of 17 October 2008, this time I found the new Flat White coffee shop, called the Milk Bar, located on 3 Bateman Street and also in Soho.  

Milk Bar is on a busy street in Soho and it has a bit of a different vibe to Flat White. For one, it seems like there’s a little bit more space, which doesn’t make it as cult and cosy as the original Flat White. They also offer cakes and snacks and naturally the star of the shop, the customized black La Marzocco is centre stage almost right in front of you when you enter the shop like a display. There are some seats outside the shop. Milk Bar has a bit of a psychedelic feel to it and I think that is what inspired me to add this psychedelic tint to this freshly poured Flat White, which I had to order naturally being in Flat White’s second shop.  

BAR ITALIA, FRITH STREET, SOHO

Not too far from Milk Bar is one of Soho’s landmark drinking establishments, Bar Italia, located on Frith Street.

Bar Italia is appealing to its followers not only because when you enter you think you are in Italy with tiled floors, manual lever ancient espresso machine, 1960’s style ring register and that continental feel but because it is one of very few coffee bars that is open 24 hours a day – “Now how cool is that ?” (one of my wife’s famous quotes). It is kind of assuring that if you are out late in central London and really want some good tasting Italian espresso, then you can find a coffee shop open all hours, where you can get one. So going with the flow being in a little bit of Italy in downtown London, I ordered an espresso naturally.

It had a very Italian taste and I’m guessing that the coffee beans had both arabica and robusta in them, just like the Italians like. In any case, my visit in the afternoon was quick and Bar Italia was quite empty compared to the last time I walked past it, when I walked on by because the crowds were spilling onto the street.

ANDRONICAS WORLD OF COFFEE, HARRODS, KNIGHTSBRIDGE

For my next stop, you will have to take a taxi (if you are in a hurry and can afford one) or jump on the Tube (London’s underground rail network system) and head for probably London’s most famous department store, Harrods.  Ok ! for those who know Harrods, it is located in the most prestigious and expensive part of London and probably the UK, and Harrods is not a cheap store either. In any case, I was drawn here because during my attendance at Caffe Culture, May 2008 (see my post of 30 May 2008) I spotted a Mirage La Marzocco machine owned by a coffee roasting company called Andronicas World of Coffee. I was duly informed by the owners that they were located in Harrods (confirmed by a blog post in coffeegeek.com) and as the Exhibitors gave me a voucher for a free espresso at Andronicas, I thought on my next trip to London, I’ll try out their cafe at Harrods. I’ve been trying ever since, until now in the middle of the shopping frenzy that is London in late December, I dragged my 7 year old son to Harrods with a promise to visit the toy shop there.

Andronicas is located on the 4th floor of Harrods, set in a pristine environment that inspries you to relax and take it easy. They’ve got lots of coffee stuff around their seating are like cafetieres, coffee cups and this antique looking mini-espresso machine, which I couldn’t resist taking a picture off.

Being late afternoon, I ordered an espresso macchiato from the barista.

The owner was otherwise occupied and I was dying to chat to him about the shop. As soon as he finished, I quickly grabbed his attention and started talking to him about Caffe Culture and the shop. Being a true gentleman and noticing that I kept on instructing my son to behave and sit down, he offered to make him a hot chocolate in an espresso cup to calm him down, at least until he finshed it. I liked the macchiato and promptly asked the owner what part of the World they were from, but as it was their special 1849 blend and I wasn’t known to them (I could have been a secret coffee blend spy), I was just told that it is made up of 4 of the World’s finest coffees. In any case, I was delighted to detect two types of tastes in my mouth, one at the tip and the other at the back. Nice coffee. I tried to buy some bags of this special 1849 blend but being unique, Andronicas let you buy the raw green beans and choose from one of 5 different roasting blends, which takes around 25 minutes to roast. You can choose between light to burnt dark roast and I am guessing they would advise you which roast goes best with which bean, see below;

Now ! that’s really unique and if I had a specialist coffee shop I would follow this example. Sadly, because I was in a rush and had to take my son to the toy department I missed out on this opportunity, Ahhhhh ! However, I was informed that as Andronica have been supplying freshly roasted coffee to Harrods for over 20 years, I could get some coffee downstairs in the famous Harrods food hall. I rushed down there but the special 1849 blend was naturally sold out, so I bought two other varieties (more of that in my next post God willing).

For more on Andronicas, see 

http://www.andronicasworldofcoffee.com/

and if you can, I strongly recommend ordering their coffee (they might ship outside UK – I’ll check God willing and let you know) a visit and would like to confirm that Harrods is the best department store that I have been to, to buy freshly roasted coffee, because their coffee is roasted by serious experts and people committed to quality, who ensure that Harrods receive freshly roasted coffee twice a week in order to maintain the quality and of course their reputation.