Ten Cups of Coffee in London – From Coffee With Love

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Earlier this month I was in London and of course the opportunity to check out new cafes was top of my list. I must confess, that I prayed that the weather would be warm, coming form 40C Dubai, but you’ll be glad to know that my prayers were answered, as this September went down as one of the warmest on record, with temperatures hovering over 30C on a few days. However, I’m not sure if it is because of Brexit, I was saddened to see that most coffee shops, even in central London, close between 3:30 and 4pm. For me, this was a travesty, as I love drinking coffee after every meal, even at night, which you won’t find anymore in London – sigh! Nevertheless, I only found one exception and for that, you’ll have to read on.

CUPS 1 AND 2 (Colonna & Smalls 96a Leather Lane, City of London)

Famously run by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, former UK barista champion, a few years back but not one that’s shy to push the boundaries on all things coffee – he wrote a book about how water affects your coffee and is about to launch one on the coffee business. His famous coffee shop is in Bath – read here when I visited. But, imagine my delight when I heard that he was opening an outlet in London. So, on the occasion of my birthday, I went here with my wife to try out the newly opened coffee shop and by default my first specialty coffee of my trip. I failed to contain my excitement, opted for a flat white to start, poured by the pleasant barista.

Flat white colonna and smalls

Whilst I was drinking my coffee, I noticed Maxwell had entered and of course we chatted coffee for like 30 minutes from water, and more, naturally. I then ordered a special filter coffee from their menu…. wait for it….

A Panama geisha from the famous coffee estate, Hacienda Esmeralda. Indeed it was sublime, tea like with hints of jasmine. I gave my wife a taste and she retorted, this taste like tea.

The last time I had this priced coffee was when I had a my coffee shop in Cape Town back in 2011 – yes it was tasted like a blue pearl earl grey. So having spoilt myself and spent more money drinking coffee than I ever have in a London coffee shop, it was time to leave after two cups of coffee.

CUP 3 (21 Grams, 155 Northcote road)

As usual, we stayed with my brother in the Clapham area and he told me that there was new coffee shop nearby, so whilst I waited for my wife to get ready, I went exploring to find this new coffee shop. The little chairs outside gave the cafe away and inside it is easy to get confused about where to order from as the barista space is open. In fact, when I went with my wife a second time, she went next to the espresso machine. As it was morning, I opted for another flat white.

Flat white at 21 grams

I noticed they were using Gentlemen Barista coffee, which features an espresso blend that contains Brazil of course. I guessed that the baristi were speaking Portuguese and I was right, they hailed from Brazil. Also on offer are pastries and cakes.

CUPS 4 AND 5 (Watch House, 2-3 Medici Courtyard, Hanover Square/Bond Street)

Now, having walked around London in 30C, looking for coffee after 4pm, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this newish (to me) Watch House was opened. Yes! I practically rushed in and “said gimme coffee” BUT as you know I don’t have an American accent, LOL! So, rewind, I walked in took in the wonderful architecture (after all the founder of Watch House is an architect) – which I have to say reminded me of some of the lavish cafe interiors I’m used to in Dubai and calmly asked for a batch brew – a kind of filter coffee prepared beforehand.

I was pleasantly surprised upon siping this coffee to detect hints of spearmint. I read the card and saw Nestor Lasso. So intrigued I was with this usual cup, that I asked the barista if I could buy a bag because I didn’t see it on their shelf. He went to the back of the cafe and said that I was in luck but they could only sell me 200g (packed in 100g bags each), so I bought it. Upon my return to Dubai, my coffee geek friend told me that Nestor Lasso is a famous coffee producer and has won awards for his coffee, so it was a great buy then.

Two flat whites at watch house

A few days later I met a friend and we had two flat whites. I was intrigued to see a long queue pouring out of the cafe – something I haven’t seen in London for a long time.

CUP 6 (Bobo and Wild, 18 Clapham Common south side)

Back to the neighbourhood. If you don’t know now, then I should let you know that my fave meal of the day is breakfast and what better to go with this tan good coffee too. So, gate crashing my brothers brunch tradition, my wife and I went to Bobo and Wild. A popular spot for brunch, run as far as I know by some Australians. I went for a flat white as I was in Aussie land prior to my amazing truffle eggs aka folded eggs. If you know me, then you’d know that I hardly use the word “amazing” unless I really mean it.

Delicious

I mean wow. Posh eggs, folded on top of sourdough bread and mushrooms topped with Parmesan cloud (okay, shavings). Back to the coffee.

My flat white was their Bobo Blend, a Brazil/Guatemala origin, medium-dark roast, with notes of chocolate, hazelnut and black currant, brewed on a La Marzocco linea. A good choice but I have to admit the egg was the star here.

CUP 7 (The Shed, Clapham South Tube Station)

This shop is second to none if you live in the Clapham South area and need that jolt of specialty coffee caffeine before you head to work. They use Caravan Coffee, brewed on a La Marzocco linea and also stocks pastries and cakes and if needed you can buy coffee bags too.

I went for a flat white – perhaps I should have called this post 7 flat whites (smile). A well prepared coffee with good frothed mil and coffee balance poured by a peasant barista.

CUP 8 (The Hagen Project, 30a Pimlico Road, Chelsea)

On our way from the airport to Clapham, we passed Chelsea and I noticed this little cafe with a Kees Van der Westen machine in the window and thought one day I’ll check this place out. A short history about Chelsea – it’s where the posh and very rich of London live – the end. In any case, I grabbed my opportunity when spending some time with my mum and headed here for my daily dose of specialty coffee and wow! was it special. Initially I wanted one of their coffees as an espressos based drink but then I opted for coffee from Prolog – a famous coffee roastery based in Copenhagen , visited by a one of the most famous chefs in the World, René Redzepi. Upon looking at the bag, Los Hermanos from the La Union municipality of Nariño, Colombia with a name like La Indonesia, I was sold.

Special coffee at Hagen

What splendid cup of coffee prepared by two very young female baristi on the Hario V60 and served in such a delectable manner, wine glass to highlight the notes with a stone covering the glass carafe. The taste was sublime, with hints of aged berries, subtle acidity and just a good cup of coffee. I think the way it was served added to the suspense and when I went to pay – the bill of GBP10 ($13) took me by surprise but I guess it was worth it.

CUP 9 (Urban Botanica, 30 Windmill Road, off Kennington Road)

In late June, our daughter moved to London toe start law school and after the aches and pains of looking for a property, she found one in Kennington. After scanning the area, she was like “I’ve found a good coffee shop for you to try when you visit”. And she was right. As we entered Urban Botanica, I spotted, yes, wait for it Kees Van der Westen machine – custom made with pink undertones.

So, having missed the opportunity at Hagen, I was presented here with the opportunity to have milk based drink on this famous machine and I opted for a flat white.

Beautifully made, suing Horsham Coffee, where the owner, Stephen used to work before, I highly recommend this place if you are nearby. I promise a longer post on this.

CUP 10 (The Shot, 104 Wigmore Street)

Walking behind Oxford Street with my daughter, I noticed this coffee shop across the road and was intrigued by a branding on the shop front as well as a nearby delivery van, so I thought , why not. So, have you ever been to a coffee shop that has a maitre d – someone who takes your reservation and guides you to your seat – very common for posh restaurants? Well, the Shot has that. Upon entering, the interior is quite dark but the gold encrusted Hario V60 breaks that monotone. The image at the top of this post is from their coffee shop.

I watched over as the baristi, who looked a bit intimidating with their waistcoats and well coiffed beards. We were handed a menu, which featured expensive coffees like Jamaica Blue Mountain, so l ordered a standard espresso

Espresso at the Shot

Easy to drink. As far as I can tell this is a new concept and they have another one in Mayfair – of course – another expensive residential community in London, not far from the Kings palace.



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