Tag Archives: coffee

Sunday Club at Tapped and Packed

The Christmas party season started early for me this year with a mulled wine fuelled weekend. But somehow on Sunday morning, powered by intrigue, me and my hangover managed to struggle out of bed, brave the icy chill and venture down to Tapped and Packed¬†for the first ever ‘Sunday Club’. It was all a bit of a mystery to me but the concept of a club devoted to coffee appreciation really appealed…so I took the gamble and found myself involved in my first ever cafe lock in. I was ridiculously nervous on the approach but the shopfront shone out like a welcoming beacon. I knocked on the door, muttered ‘Sunday Club’ and was admitted into the cosy confines of the cafe at 26 Rathbone Place…

I made myself comfortable in a seat with a good view of the coffee preparation area but was still pretty unsure of what I was meant to be doing. My motto in situations like these…if in doubt talk random rubbish to the poor person sitting next to you, who on this occasion was a young gentleman barista from Fernandez and Wells. He was the font of all knowledge on all things coffee and has made me think I definitely need to schedule a trip down to their espresso bar in St Anne’s Court to sample their wares!

We waited for a few more stragglers to arrive and then the tasting kicked off…We were sampling the new ‘Jabberwocky’ blend from Has Bean Coffee, so named by Steve the owner who felt the words of his favourite Poem by Lewis Carroll described it perfectly, in particular…’the jaws that bite, the claws that catch’. He explains it in more depth on his ‘In my Mug’ video blog.

First off we were given three cups containing the three elements that make up the Jabberwocky blend as described on the menu above. Each one was accompanied by a small tasty morsel designed to compliment the particular tastes within each of the coffees…a raspberry filled with popping candy, an apricot bathed in peach schnapps and champagne sorbet sprinkled with a special orange zest and sugar powder…

It was very clever and totally delicious although I did find the peach scnapps slighty too reminiscent of my misspent youth ūüôā

It was all very relaxed and there was plenty of time to take in the eclectic surroundings and chat with my fellow Sunday Club members…

We were given a palate cleanser of chilled coffee cherry tea and sparkling water…

Before finally sampling the complete Jabberwocky espresso…

It was a powerful, zingy, zesty, fresh coffee, just as Steve had descibed. I was amazing how well all of the elements worked together and how having sampled them separately, I could identify the different layers within it.

We got chatting to one of the owners of Tapped and Packed, Vic Frankowski, a very talented photographer as well as barista, who told us all about his recent trip to Costa Rica with Union Hand Roasted, visiting coffee farms and regaled us with his plans for future projects…his knowledge is astounding!

I’m a coffee lover but Sunday Club took coffee loving to a whole new level. The Tapped and Packed barista’s really know their stuff and are ready and willing to share it. Every month is set to be different as the Sunday Club format evolves. The next one’s taking place in January…I’m looking forward to it already!

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Pitch 42…

Yesterday in my lunch break I went on a long awaited pilgrimage to Whitecross Street Market¬†especially to visit Pitch 42. I’ve read amazing things about this unassuming little market stall…

with it’s simple, unfussy menu…

and its cool quirkiness…

They serve Square Mile Coffee

and produce beautiful coffee…

I had a flat white, which was amazingly smooth, silky and delicious and everything I’d hoped it would be. I’d suggested the cortado to my friend who wanted ‘just a little coffee’, which is exactly what he got….

When the barista saw me taking photo’s he insisted on making an even prettier one and wowed me with his skills…

I’m so glad I finally got to see and experience Pitch 42 for myself. It may not be all singing and all dancing like some cafe’s around town but it’s for that exact reason that I liked it so much. They don’t need to hide behind a highly polished, over branded, super trendy shop front, their coffee and skills speak for themselves. I would highly recommend a visit.¬†

Oh…and while you’re there why not take the chance to sample some of the amazing delicacies on offer from one (or more) of the plethora of food stalls that make up the weekly food market on Thursdays and Fridays. I was lured towards a stall called ‘Lil Italy’ by their mouthwatering display of panini’s and chose the parma ham and scamorza (a smoked Italian cow’s milk cheese, similar to mozzarella) mmm…

My trip to Whitecross Street Market was the perfect treat to end my working week. I have a feeling I may become a regular…I just wish I worked a bit nearer so that I could pop to Pitch 42 on my way to the office in the morning.

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I’m armed and dangerous…a bag of Caravan’s freshly ground espresso blend coffee and my new Aeropress…I’m going to be so wired this weekend!

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08/10/2010 · 12:29 pm

A trip to the Haberdashery

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit recently but I’ve been terribly busy sunning myself on the Dalamation coast in Croatia, eating amazing seafood, drinking copious amounts of strong Croatian coffee and doing a fantastic job of pickling my liver! It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!

I’ve only been back in London for a few days but have already been having brunch withdrawal symptoms. My friend Mark recently moved down the road to Crouch End and has been trying to coax me over the hill to visit him ever since. He finally succeeded by telling me about a cafe called The Haberdashery. I¬†checked out their website and menu I didn’t need any more convincing…

The Haberdashery advertises itself as an eatery and coffee house that sells old vinyls. It’s a really cute place with a great atmosphere. It retains a really light and airy feel even though the walls and shelves are filled with cool little trinkets, crockery and original artwork.

There’s also a lovely garden out the back…

where we started our Haberdashery experience…on a picnic bench in a sunny corner soaking up the rays…

We arrived just as the breakfast menu was finishing and the daytime menu was starting.¬†It was such a gorgeous sounding menu that it wasn’t any great hardship…

We started off by ordering coffee to assist us in our decision making…an americano for me with the milk served in a little tea pot..

and a bowl of flat white for Mark…

I ordered a salad of parma ham, grapefruit, avocado, toasted pinenuts and parmesan shavings on a bed of baby spinach leaves, which was served with a rustic olive bread pot…

If I’m honest, the main reason for choosing a salad wasn’t for it’s health benefits but for the accompanying rustic bread pot, which I’d spotted on entering the cafe and fallen in love with!…

Mark had the halloumi sandwich served with rocket and olive jam on rosemary bread…

The food was nothing short of amazing – so fresh and tasty! and although we were both pretty full we decided that it’d be rude not to sample a cake for pudding. We moved to a table inside the cafe for a change of scenery and to soak up the atmosphere and were faced with an array of very tempting cakes…

muffins and pastries…

and a very difficult decision to make.

We ordered another round of decision making coffees and after suffering a severe bout of bowl envy after our first round I ordered an americano in a bowl…

I thought I should put into context just how enormous this bowl of coffee was…

It required two handed lifting and actually sent me into a complete caffeine spin out, which was heightened by the sugar rush that we got from the yummy blackberry crumble cake that we eventually chose…

Everything about The Haberdashery was spot on, the food was amazing, the coffee excellent, it was the right amount of quirky without trying too hard and the staff were very friendly and accomodating!

I highly highly recommend a trip to The Haberdashery…get on your bikes and brave Crouch Hill…a real treat awaits!

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Money for nothing and your coffee for free

A few months ago I found out about a trade show that takes place in London called Caffe Culture and registered for free tickets. The time flew by and it was suddenly time for me to take a day’s holiday from work and to head over to Kensington Olympia for a day of freebies and coffee machine porn topped with a large dose of World Barista Championship excitement and a whole load of free caffeine!

Me and my friend Caz made the mistake of buying a coffee when we first entered the show not realising just how many offers we would have of a free one, and we’re not talking just any old free coffee, every exhibitor is out to show you how good their particular variety of coffee/ grinder/ coffee machine is and will do their utmost to prove it to you by giving away cups of the stuff. Don’t get me wrong we weren’t complaining although I was shaking slightly after my seventh!

We wandered around the show being force fed biscuits, cakes and smoothie samples until we thought we could take no more, being handed bags of freebies willy nilly, and being drawn¬†to the Nutella stall like moths to a flame…

We admired many pretty things…

and saw exciting new products being pedalled ūüėČ …


We turned a corner and were suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a crowd of excitable men…quite an enjoyable experience if all be told…however they only had eyes for the stunningly beautiful La Marzocco coffee machines,¬†the holy grail of the coffee machine world if you will…! There was a real frisson as they discussed the merits, lusted after and waited in line to¬†get their hands on the beauties. Here is some coffee¬†machine¬†porn for your viewing¬†pleasure…

In between our coffee quaffing I dragged Caz along to seminar by¬†the coffee boys. They¬†really know their stuff about¬†caf√©’s¬†and talked specifically about a recent¬†survey¬†that they’ve been carrying out nationwide to discover what is the biggest challenge that people are facing in their businesses.

The main event of the day, however was not the La Marzocco’s but the World Barista Championship finals. We managed to catch four of the six finalists do their thing…I never knew coffee making could be so competitive…

Each finalist was required to prepare 4 x espresso’s, 4 x cappuccino’s and 4 of their signature coffee, whilst talking the judges through their choices and explaining what they’re doing in a timed period of just 15 minutes. I found it particularly amusing that the¬†competition¬†was set to a soundtrack of the barista’s choice, my personal highlight being the performance by the winner Michael Phillips from the USA. Picture the scene…the crowd grows silent, the digital time display is activated and the 15 minutes begins to tick away, when all of a sudden the music starts up quietly at first….and slowly builds into the instantly recognisable opening guitar riff and dulcet tones of Mark Knopfler singing Money for Nothing.¬†Michael Phillip starts strutting his stuff in the arena whilst still managing to whip up 12 World¬†Championship winning standard coffee’s.¬†

We watched Scottie Callahan from Australia, who really impressed me with his signature coffee by adding cardamom to his espresso, mixing in some organic sugar cane and topping it with coconut cream mmmm…

and also saw perfromances by Michael Phillips (USA), Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece) and Raul Rodas (Guatemala)…

All in all a very enjoyable, inspiring, caffeine fuelled day out in London!

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Reacquainting myself with an old friend

Last Thursday I was running early (as usual) for a Businesslink course in London Bridge, the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with my old friend Monmouth Coffee.

I used to be a pretty frequent Saturday visitor to Borough Market when I lived South of the river but since I defected oop North visits have been few and far between. Now, for those of you who have not been educated in the delights of Monmouth, it is, in my opinion one of the best coffee’s you can get your hands on in London. Their coffee menu is simple and unfussy – I highly recommend their flat white but on this occasion I decided to go for a filter coffee. I really like the look of the racks and rows of filters lined up on the counter and I love the fact that you can’t rush a filter coffee – the water takes it’s own sweet time to drip through taking the most delicious coffee with it –¬†

The wait is always worth it at Monmouth –¬†

The perk of being in Borough Market on a Thursday was that it was relatively quiet and I had the chance to wander around and see what was new since my last visit. I was drawn to a little stall owned by The Cinnamon Tree Bakery

and especially to their Pecan and Orange Shortbread (a light and flaky shortbread with fresh orange zest and a sweet pecan and orange crust)

After much deliberation I decided to try a Tweet Tweet Cookie (Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, raisins, dates, tahini and malt extract), which was divine! It was chock-full of wholesome ingredients and still managed to be the most delicious cookie with a very satisfying, not too syrupy, not too crumbly texture. Just what I needed to help me through 4 hours of lectures on starting a business ūüôā

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Left to the fate of the London Buses….

This week my Friday treat coffee venue was decided by which bus arrived at the bus stop first. Kind of like a cafe lottery. The number 19 goes right near Exmouth Market, which would have meant yet another trip to Caravan or the number 4 goes down Goswell Road and stops right near¬†Goswell Road Coffee, which I hate to admit, is part of a chain, thankfully not of the St&*%¬£$ks variety but with 2 more shops on Bermondsey Street and Brick Lane. The coffee is good but for me the thing that keeps bringing me back here is the feel of the place….I love it.

It has loads of big sofas, good music, a notice board advertising yoga classes, rooms to rent, ironing services, giving it a community feel and some pretty darn funky features like lamp shades made out of milk cartons…

coffee paraphenalia holders made out lego…

and a very cool mural that takes over a whole wall…

Unfortunately I only had time to grab a take away white americano but the sofas were calling out to me to be lounged on and the huge pile of magazines/ newspapers just begged to be perused……they’ll just have to wait for another day when work isn’t on the agenda. ūüė¶

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I like my men like I like my coffee

Today’s Caravan coffee was a Bolivian Finca Irupana and as always…..was amazing! It was strong, full bodied and fruity, with a chocolaty, creamy aftertaste. I’m 3 weeks and 3 stamps on my loyalty card into my Caravan addiction and it’s just getting stronger and stronger. I may have to enforce a ban for a few weeks just so I’m forced to continue my hunt for other good coffee establishments….or maybe not! After all there are 6 more days in the week but Friday’s are reserved for Caravan!

As I was walking back down Exmouth market on my way to work the chorus of ‘coffee by supersister’¬† popped into my head (hence the title of this post) and annoyingly has been lodged there ever since. I realised after it had gone round and round my head on repeat a few times that I only knew the chorus so I googled the lyrics and they really brightened my morning. Read on and I dare you not to crack a smile…..

You ask a question, "Can I come in for coffee?"
I thought this could never be.
I thought for a minute, then smiled for a second,
Coz you're just my cup of tea.

The coffee was steamin', and I, I was dreamin'
You'd take me to boiling point.
Your lips started kissin', my heart started missin'
We damn nearly wrecked the joint.

Like a dream you held my body tight. (you held my body tight)
Like caffine you kept me up all night.

I like my men like I like my coffee,
Hot, strong and sweet like toffee.
Oh, so you know that I can't let you go.

I like my men like I like my coffee,
Hot, strong and sweet like toffee.
Oh, and I know that I can't let you go.

I thought that maybe I'd slept like a baby,
Alas it was just a dream.
Then in popped my lover, pulled back the covers
Coz I like my coffee with cream.

Then I felt a stirring deep inside. (you stir me up inside)
Fill my cup (fill my cup) till it's flowing down the side.

I like my men like I like my coffee,
Hot, strong and sweet like toffee.
Oh, so you know that I can't let you go.

I like my men like I like my coffee,
Hot, strong and sweet like toffee.
Oh, and I know that I can't let you go.

Men like my coffee, really turn me on.
Sometimes espresso, sometimes he's too strong.
Then there's Costa Rican, mellow but he's rich.
But never give me instant, coz baby, he's too quick.

Like a dream you held my body tight. (you held my body tight)
Like a fiend you kept me up all night.

I like my men like I like my coffee,
Hot, strong and sweet like toffee.
Oh, so you know that I can't let you go.

I like my men like I like my coffee,
Hot, strong and sweet like toffee.
Oh, and I know that I can't let you go.

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The light at the end of the tunnel

It’s been a bleak old week in my world but the black cloud that has been stationed above my head, much like the volcanic ash cloud which is lurking over Britain, has finally started drifting away. I’m a simple soul and in most cases like this a good coffee, cake, yummy meal or in this particular case, a trip to a fantastic cafe is the answer!

Just over a month ago I was doing a recce of Kaffeine with a friend and we got chatting to a guy on the neighbouring table, who wondered why I was taking photos of my coffee. He enthused about a little cafe in Charlotte Place called Lantana and told me that the owner had started a blog about her experience of starting her cafe from scratch. As people who know me are probably all too aware, this subject is very close to my heart, I’m very happy to chew anyone/everyone I meet’s ear off about my own cafe dreams! So, as soon as I got home I googled Lantana and found the blog in question. I started from the very beginning and read every post until I was up to the present day – it had me hooked! This, along with inspiration from reading Gary Vaynerchuks book ‘Crush It’ was what made me start this very blog.

But anyway, I’m going off on a tangent…the point of this post is that I finally made it down to Charlotte Place on this most gorgeously sunny Saturday morning and here’s what I found…

I think I must have been looking a bit lost because I was trying to decide whether to sit outside in the sun or inside where I’d feel more of the atmosphere of the place. But I was soon approached by a lovely friendly waitress who sat me at a vast varnished plywood bench at the front of the very shop, where the window was wide open, looking out onto the street so I got the best of both worlds – perfect! To top it off I had a selection of every weekend magazine/newspaper available laid out right in front of me.

I ordered a flat white to tide me over while I perused the menu

the coffee was nothing short of dreamy. It was smooth, creamy, not to mention a work of art. The menu was a nightmare though because I wanted EVERYTHING on it! I finally settled for a ‘grilled haloumi stack, mushrooms with herb pesto, corn fritter, saut√©ed spinach, and roast tomatoes served with wholemeal sourdough toast’ and was assured by the waitress that I’d made the right choice.

When it arrived I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed –

Every single element of the dish was delicious and the only criticism I have is that I had to add a bit of salt to the sweetcorn fritter, which wasn’t the end of the world!

After devouring my brunch and all of the weekend papers, I was toying with ordering another coffee but decided that that would be a little bit excessive and anyway the cafe was really busy, with people queueing for tables. I took pity on a lady who obviously had her eye on my window seat and eventually dragged myself away, stopping by on the way out to tell the owner how much I had enjoyed it! Great work Shelagh! There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back!

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Another Friday…another trip to Caravan

As predicted¬†Caravan have well and truly ensnared me and when trying to decide where to go for my Friday treat coffee I could think of nowhere else! So, fresh off the bus, I took a trip down Exmouth Market with a spring in my step and boy did they meet my expectations. I decided that although I had thoroughly enjoyed the Musasa I should branch out and try another of their home roasted varieties. I picked the Aceh Tengah, which I was told would be strong but with fruity undertones once it had cooled off a bit. The chance of the coffee lasting long enough to cool was slight to non existant but hey the thought was there. The same guy served me, he talks about his coffees like fine wines and his enthusiasm is catching! The Aceh Tengah was extremely fruity, complex and delicious and made me realise what s*&t other outlets get away with calling ‘coffee’.

I’m 2 stamps down on my loyalty card – it’d be rude not to at least try all of their coffees and fill the card….next up is going to be their new Bolivian, a new variety straight out of the roaster. Is it sad that I’m planning which coffee to drink a week in advance??

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