Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Monday, June 14, 2010
I went to the Kaffee Olympiade in Hamburg with the gang from Godshot to check out the Barista Championship and Latte Art Contests. We were all decked out in our matching multi-colored t-shirts but none of us competed. I'm not eligible, since I've been in Germany just short of 2 years and the rest of the guys are top-baristas although not the most competitive bunch. I have high hopes for a Godshot team next year.
Our friend Marcel was participating in the Latte Art Contest. He kicked ass. He teaches a Latte Art Seminar with Kai at Godshot and has one of the steadiest pairs of hands I have ever seen. He got 2nd place but was only .5 point away from the 1st place winner. The whole competition was close.
The Baritsa competition was also a nail-biter. The guys from Radical Coffee inundated the competition with highly-skilled baristas and the top three finalist were all from this gang. They all showed amazing team spirit and sporttsmanship. It was obvious that they supported each other throughout training. Thomas Schweiger was the eventual winner and will go on to represent Germany at the World Championship in London in 2 weeks. I will be there to cheer him on and finish my London Coffee Tour.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I got to Tapped & Packed a few days after they opened their doors. Everything was shiny, the staff was standing at attention and I was the only customer which was a welcome treat after being one of the herd at Lantana. I was tipped off by the gracious owner of Bou Tea but I'm sure that Tapped & Packed won't be a secret for long.
They were the only cafe besides Monmouth that seemed to make a serious commitment to filter coffee and having single origins. In fact they had the only vac-pot (siphon) I saw on my tour, and also offered other brew methods; aeropress, filter and cafetiere. Their equipment is all state of the art. They are the only cafe I know of that offers coffee from the Union, Square Mile and Climpson & Sons making them the go to place if you wanted to taste all these offerings under the same roof.
All that and their Australian barista was the most interesting to look at. The espresso in the hopper was Climpson but they said they would be changing that often so you have to ask. The owner seems to have a real commitment to art (the walls were already buzzing with it) and the perfect cup.
I'm sure they will have kinks to work out. Keeping so much in stock and beans from three roasters fresh will be a challenge. They are entering a crowded corner of soho and smartly offer what none of their neighbors have.
They get the newbie award. It is the place to go to if you want to taste it all, all day long while looking at cute staff.
26 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia London W1T1JD
Monmouth started roasting coffee in 1978 and exist now as the old guys that have somehow kept up. They dominate as roasters in the high-end coffee houses in London and have the busiest retail exchange of beans that I have ever witnessed. Their success is inspiring.
Since they roast their own, their cafes are on the forefront of filter coffee offerings in London. Filter Coffee is no where as far along as in the US and only a few cafes in London even offer it. Most will give you an Americano instead. To feature their single origin beans, Monmouth uses ceramic filter which enables them to offer a by the cup coffee to order experience similar to the quality of a french press and cheaper than a Clover cup. Since I come from a land in love with single origins and I am personally in love with a vac-pot, this was great to see. Each location offers a plethora of single estate coffees and their espresso blend. They also customize espresso blends for their many wholesale customers.
They are skilled roasters but tend to stick to a medium to dark roast. Lighter roasts are tricky, and have only recently gained traction with its development by Cafe Vivace and perfection by Stumptown and Intelligentsia. Monmouth is not there yet and their struggle will be to meet the new roasting challenge. With the new players in town and the Third Wave obsession with freshness and innovation, Monmouth's years are a brand disadvantage but an expertise advantage.
They bypass the Fair Trade stuff and trade with farmers directly which often works out better for the farmer. The coffee beans at the stores is kept in open containers during the day but it goes so fast that it is the only sensible way to store them. They tend to have La Marzocco Lineas but generally the baristas are too busy to talk.
The Convent Garden store was really to small to sit in. The Borough Market location was an experience, esprecially on a sunny day with it's garage style door that results in an open air, covered store.
Monmouth is definitely the destination if fresh, single estate coffee your thing. They know what they are doing.
Covent Garden - 27 Monmouth Street London WC2H 9EU
The Borough - 2 Park Street London SE1 9AB
Monday, April 26, 2010
This was definitely a highlight of my tour and if I could teleport myself somewhere right now, it would be into Kaffeine. It seems like the best of London's coffee comes from Australia and New Zealand. The folks from Kaffeine seem to have pulled off the most sophisticated result.
The coffee was super. I happened to be there the day after they received their delivery of the new spring espresso from Square Mile Roasters so I just had straight shots. I was blown away. It was not pretentious. There were a flock of workers behind the counter that seemed like apprentices if for no other reason than their humility. The Synesso machine was beautiful. The result was that I had a little slice of heaven that morning.
After checking their site, I found that they had some of the strictest standards that I've heard about for baristas. "Our Baristas have at least three continuous years experience behind a professional espresso machine. They are continuously in pursuit of perfecting the art of espresso making."
I drool when I think of this place. If you could only go to one place in London for coffee, Kaffeine would be it.
Westminster, London W1W 7QJ, UK