Tag Archives: latte art

The London Coffee Diary 1: Mother’s Milk

Milk Frothing
It seems like every year I’ve got to do an update on the London Coffee Scene, so here’s my 2015 version, part 1. Let’s start with the funnily named tongue in cheek, Mother’s Milk. I’m not sure where they got the name from, but our first culinary love, tends to be our mother’s milk, but perhaps here they meant, the first milk we fall in love as adults is a well frothed milk, used for a milk based espresso coffee drink.

It’s like a hole in the wall, and almost easy to miss, just off the Regent’s Street end closer to Regent’s Park – so, if you’re at Oxford Circus, with the Nike Store on your right, go around the corner and walk down and it’s the third street on the right, Little Portland Street. When I visited they were at number 12, but from 19 October 2015, they’ll be on 22-23 Little Portland Street.

Mother’s Milk is no frills, but what stands out in the left hand corner is the manual, hand lever 2 group Victoria Arduino espresso machine. It sits in the corner like a museum piece but comes alive when attended to by the barista, on this occasion, Will, one of two owners.

Naturally I ordered a milk based drink resembling a mini cappuccino, aka, a cortado – cuter version with a double shot of espresso and less milk. Well, you can’t come to a cafe called Mother’s Milk and not test out their milk frothing skills. A cute little love heart latte art to top it off.

 Anyway, another bonus on offer is the coffee used at this sweet spot, JB Kaffee from Germany. I had heard of them from another cafe in London, who thought they were one of the best coffee roasters in the World, so naturally I was excited to finally taste coffee from this roaster. In addition, I was tempted to buy one of the bags on offer – a wait for it, Costa Rica natural – this may not make sense, but I promise a separate post on it. In summary, this small spot packs a big punch – just before I left, a couple from Malaysia dropped by and from what I gathered whenever they are in London, they visit Mother’s Milk. Highly recommended whenever you’re in Central London and to buy great coffee too.

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Getting a Good Cup of Coffee in Dubai: RAW Coffee Company

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When you think of Dubai, you may think of Toobuy and many moons ago, when I thought about opening up a speciality coffee shop somewhere in the World, I thought about Dubai. Well, why not – they had big shopping malls, flashy cars, the best paid expatriates with tons of perks, a growing coffee lifestyle market, the highest amount of 5 starts hotels with the highest occupancy rates in the World at that time and even now the tallest building in the World, BUT they didn’t have good coffee.

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Sure, all the major coffee chains from the UK and the US are there but still, not good coffee. So, I thought, let’s break the bean and start something special. In any case, as you know, I chose Cape Town to pursue my dream (I sold Escape Caffe in February this year) but I’m glad to report that someone else beat me to it a few years back, RAW Coffee – at this moment, the only speciality coffee operator in Dubai, focusing on sourcing fair trade and organic coffees and roasted locally in Dubai – located at Warehouse 10, Al Manara, al Quoz – in an industrial complex of the very busy Shaykh Zayed Road.

I like what they’ve done with the place to make it feel more authentic – first of all it’s in a converted warehouse – as you enter on the left, there’s the La Marzocco Strada machine to make espresso based coffee and other gadgets as well as a brew bar with an Uber boiler to help make pour-over coffee.

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On the right they have a “green” living wall and some chairs. Walking through to the back, on the left hand side of the warehouse/shop, there’s a glass enclave featuring not one, but three coffee roasters – so they import and roast all their coffees (When the proprietor, Kim started, she only had one Probat, now she’s expanded to another two, a giant 18kg Coffee Tool roaster and a smaller Dietrich sample roaster).

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I think the main reason for this is that they also supply some restaurants – a list of their customers is on their website. Dotted around on the ground floor to add more authenticity are heaps of green coffee sacks. Right at the back of the shop, there are some stairs to a small sitting and workshop area at the top, overlooking the rest of the shop. You can sit and drink coffee from a very authentic solid wood table or relax on some bean bags. In any case, if there’s more than 4 of you, I would recommended sitting upstairs and chilling out.

Now, to the coffee. Upon entry, I ordered a flat white as I usually do to test out their milk frothing and latte art skills. I noticed that another customer was very impressed with the latte art as he kept looking at it and I silently thought “Erm! I know this is new to you, but eventually you’re going to have to drink it”.

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Lots more people, mainly expatriates, shuffled in briefly to buy bags of coffee. For my second test – I usually order a pour over to test the roasters skill with the bean and have to confess, I thought the coffee a little too darkly roasted for me – it was good with milk but as a pour over, pure black, slightly bitter with no delicate notes picked up. I quizzed the barista present as to how he prepared my coffee and in conclusion the water was too hot (over 92C) and the dimensions (20g with 200ml water) way too high. He apologises profusely and my cousin, accompanying me for his first speciality latte (he is used to chain style coffee) bought two 500g bags of coffee for me to take back to Vienna, so that appeased the barista somewhat.

I would have loved to have met Kim but it was Friday afternoon and I guess her time off.

In any case, to the best of my knowledge, if you want a speciality coffee experience in glitzy and flashy glass skyscrapers Dubai, I recommend you escape into RAW coffee.

Visit them online at www.rawcoffeecompany.com to order coffee and get directions to where they are. They’re open 7 days a week; offer barista courses and sell all types of equipment for the very keen home barista.

 

 


My Best Coffee of 2010

I know it’s late BUT I’ve got to let you know about my best coffee of 2010 because it will just be unforgivable if I didn’t. So what was it ? It was, CAPAO CHAPADA DIAMANTINA or Capao for short. It hails from Brazil, was roasted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London. It’s primary taste notes were described as toffee, cocoa, hazelnut with a slight vanilla finish. There, they got me – whilst it’s almost normal to find taste profiles along the lines of toffee, caramel, hazelnut, almond, cocoa, chocolate, it’s very rare to find vanilla. Trust me, I’ve tried. Square Mile even went the extra mile to tempt me “it’s like snickers in a cup”. Snickers being the chocolate bar with a peanut nougat base, topped with peanuts and caramel and wrapped in milk chocolate. Now ! tell me that isn’t tempting.

However, I’m not that shallow to fall for looks alone or in this case, taste profiles. So what did it really taste like and why did I really like it that I gave it the high accolade of “COFFEE OF THE YEAR”.

So, what did it taste like as an espresso….

Oh my God !

And as a Cappuccino….

This isn’t real

and as Americano…… This can’t be happening to me

and finally, in a French Press…. OK ! you’ve got to be kidding right.

You know what they say “somethings are better left unsaid” OR “few words have the impact of thousands “. OK ! the last one is slightly made up, but you can quote me on that.

In summary, let’s just say this coffee was inspirational. Even my barista at Escape Caffe, poured his best latte art so far.

Capao Heart Close

As a cappuccino, it was the best experience – creamy and buttery (the latter a square mile signature), toffee like, cocoa all over my mouth, finishing off with vanilla.

As an espresso, nice body (and looks too) with toffee and hazelnut to the fore, just wrapping around your tongue and delghting your stomach.

As an Americano, there was almost full body crema and similar tastes experienced in the espresso were enhanced with toffee and caramel dominating.

The final taste test was in a French Press, but before that one proviso for those less gifted. Usually, coffee that is made with such vigour using the espresso machine, just doesn’t cut it when extracted using more subtle methods like the French Press, but not in this case. The taste was still amazing “vanilla and cocoa with a hint of berry in the finish and lingering way past 30 minutes”.

So, in summary again, this coffee was not only great, or should I say fantastic in taste, but very versatile across many ways of drinking it.

So sad to see it go, but I pray it comes back in 2011. Well done Square Mile for getting it and roasting it just perfectly for me.


Impress Your Friends… Latte Art Twirl

I’m going to share a really “impress your friends” coffee recipe with you that should make your friends go “Wow ! you’re really good at this (insert your name here)”. OK ! first up, I’ve got to break it down to you… for purists, there’s a difference between LATTE ART and what some call LATTE ETCHING. Latte Art really means pouring your well frothed milk into your well extracted espresso and pouring it in a way that displays a design like a heart, flower or rosetta – you’ve seen many of these designs already on this blog – if you haven’t, scroll down, or check my “Art of Coffee” category or Flickr account. OK ! So what is etching then ? In summary, it means playing with the frothed milk by making designs with a tooth pick or tool. So to work then.

Assumptions, assumptions – I’m assuming that you know how to extract a good double espresso into a cappuccino cup and that you know how to froth milk properly – note on that, if you froth milk properly, it should be fairly quiet, so if you hear that loud frothing noise in a cafe, then prepare yourself for badly frothed milk with lots of air. So first up, after extracting espresso and well frothed milk, pour the milk into the espresso beneath the crema cloud, making sure that there is no sign of milk, saving the real frothy stuff. Now, spoon out the froth on top of the espresso cross ways.

Take a picture…. Now, get a tooth pick or wooden cake tester and place it right into the centre of the white cross

Now, I’m assuming you know how to draw, so quickly draw a circle outwards until you get to the edge of the cup and voila. You can even see on the stick the two tone colours, white and cappuccino brown.

Good luck and I hope to get a video of this up soon on my Vimeo account, God willing. Check this space.


From Coffee With Love in Cape Town 2009

You know that I have to start with my favourite, Origins Coffee Roasting on 28 Hudson Street (I have even memorised the address), in De Waterkant area, just off the centre of downtown Cape Town.

I’m lucky enough to visit, what I think is one of the most exciting cities in the World on a yearly basis since 2006. I always like to go back to my favourite places to see if they are still keeping up the standards, because occasionally I’ve been disappointed when I get excited by a cafe and then go back after about a year to find out that the original concept, usually devised by a passionate coffee freak, has lots its appeal because the owner has wandered off after making a bit of money and has taking a more “executive” life. Anyway, I’m glad to report that that hasn’t happened at Origins – it seems that they are just getting bigger. First they had a small cool shop, then they added a tea part at the back, then they bought upstairs and opened up a barista school and now, wait for it, they’ve opened up another shop on the roof. As you approach the shop, with the original entrance in front of you, look to the left and you will see a sign inviting you upstairs with 50% of your coffee. you climb these funky stairs to a roof terrace area, which now houses a trendy looking cutlery shop, a model firm and a courtyard with lots of Origins Coffee Roasting umbrelas, et voila….

So, I had to try it, as it was a nice day in Cape Town to sit outside and drink coffee, which I turned down at the the hotel, saving my appetite but of course for a milk based espresso drink. I ordered a flat white, which, now beginning to know a little more about coffee, was a bit hot – “wait a minute, isn’t coffee supposed to be hot ?” Yes ! I add, but not burning your lips hot, as you need to taste the coffee and too hot will not caress your lips. So the barista asked me, “did you like the coffee ?” and I had to be honest, having traveled 1000s of miles for this experience, “Well ! I said, I think the temperature on the espresso machine needs to be regulated”. He perfectly understood my complaint and offered to make me a new one for free, which as much better. I then rushed off downstairs, trying to track down, joint owner, Joel Singer, to say hi. I stumbled into one of the long time baristi there, Lindsay, and asked her for a double espresso.

But, as I waited I saw her pour these two cups of beautiful latte art cappuccinos or flat white (first pic above) and one below, just for you.

I also bought two bags of coffee (more on that later in another posts). I finally caught hold of Joel, who was doing a photo shoot on their revamped tea room, said hi and was on my way after 2 flat whites and a double espresso – tasting coffee can be quite exhaustingly pleasant.

For my next discovery, I tracked down, after reviewing my foodie magazines with features on Cape Town food, Shelleys Gourmet Coffee on 90 Kloof Street – if you are in a rush, take a cab. Shelley’s opened in late 2008, so it is quite new and has a lot of delicious bites to eat and from what I gather is beginning to get popular with the breakfast crowd, even offering an espresso French Toast, which I hope to try next time God willing. I also met with Shelley, who is very warm and welcoming and a real foodie freak like me. Anyway, I had a sandwich lunch there, gazed at the cakes….. delicious and had a double espresso before rushing back to the hotel to catch my cab to the airport.

You can read more about Shelleys on my foodie site, http://www.atastyblog.com/in about a weeks time God willing. Anyway, highly recommended for a bite to eat, cake and coffee.


My Bodum Pavina Glasses

From my pictures on my blog and on my flickr account, you should know by now that I like different types of glasses and cups to take my coffee pictures in. After all, with just a little dark brown liquid, sometimes with a dash of milk to take a picture off, you have to make the best of its surroundings and by this I usually focus on the container, the cup. So on my trip to Bodum’s first shop in Vienna, located on 2 Marc-Aurel Strasse, 1010 Vienna, in freezing -6 C temperature, I was shown Bodum’s Pavina glasses. I thought for about a few seconds how these double wall glasses would look like with espresso or cappuccino in them and being someone who usually knows what they want and tempted by very good customer services, I bought a set of 2 glasses – the 12oz version, just right for your classic cappuccino. The next day, I couldn’t contain myself and used the glasses straight away for my morning dose of cappuccino and of course poured a heart;

I just liked the way you can see how the frothed milk blends in with the espresso and you can see the foamy part just sitting on top. The added bonuses of this glass is that because it is double walled and mouth blown, you cannot feel the heat from the coffee when you hold the glass in your hand and it keeps the coffee hot for longer, plus of course it looks great, doesn’t it, especially when you pour latte art, with different shades of milk and espresso milk combinations ?

If you want to impress your friends and love cooking and baking, then you can make a hot dessert in these glasses provided that the oven temperature doesn’t go over 180C and alternatively you can make cold desserts in them. From the coffee side, the glass is just the right size for a double shot espresso Cappuccino or Caffe Latte. So, if you’ve got about €20 to spare during these tough economic times, then buy a set of two.


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.