Friday, 11 September 2015

London Coffee Guide: How To Cope as a Coffee Snob in London

HELP! I’ve turned into a coffee snob and it’s making me anxious!

Once upon a time, in a life that feels very long ago, I used to be happy with whatever caffeine that was slapped in front of me. It wasn’t daily and it was on a needs basis depending on the amount of sleep I had achieved.

Then I became a freelancer.

Coffee shops were now my office. And I changed. I began to notice the difference between creamy rich milk and skim. Nutty roasts from more caramel roasts. Balance of acidity. Mouth feel. Dirty or cardboard like after taste. Burnt beans. Over heated milk. Floral,flat and/or flavoursome. OH NO I TURNED INTO A COFFEE SNOB!

Anyway. If you feel yourself falling into the coffee snob category like I have (or are an Antipodean) please read my relatively never fail way in finding very excellent flat whites, espressos and other caffeinated beverages:

1. Take away cup sizes have to start small.
If they only have large or extra large takeaway cups (think big chains) then my advice is run. Or, if you have no other options, (and you’re a flat white drinker like me) ask for two shots and half milk. Ignore the eye rolls of your friends. It’s worth it.
Brick Lane coffee (have normal sized cups and also have very, very good loyalty cards) 157 Brick Lane E1 6SB

2. So ‘Flat White’ hasn’t been mentioned on the menu. Espresso has been spelt expresso.
Slowly back away.
Peckham Refreshment Rooms (has flat whites on their menu and uses the correct spelling) 12-16 Blenheim Grove SE 4QL

3. Watch someone else’s coffee being made. 
You want to be able to see a ‘crema’ on top of the shot of coffee. This is the lighter brown, almost creamy mousse that forms on top of your coffee. It’s essential for your coffee enjoyment.
Federation Coffee (knows crema) Unit 77-78 Brixton Village Market SW9 8PS

4. Let’s talk about milk. 
Do they heat the milk for a super long time? Warning. Do they reheat milk? Double warning. Did you see a ‘tap’ of the milk jug on the bench? Good. What milk are they reaching for out of the fridge? OMG was it skim? But I walked an extra 2.1kms to find you here it’s ok I have earned the calories!
CREAM. (excellent milk) 31 New Inn Yard EC2A 3EY

5. For the extreme coffee snob: check out what beans they are using. 
There are some very excellent coffee roasters locally. 
Such names that spring to mind are Climpson and Sons (E8 4PH), All Press (E2 7DP), Monmouth (WC2H 9EU), Square Mile (various). Try them all.

6. And… if they are roasting coffee beans on site walk right on it… 
You’ll be able to smell it.
Work Shop Coffee 27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RN,
Caravan Coffee Roasters 1 Granary Square N1C 4AA

7. Do they have Aesop in their bathroom? Can you hear Kiwi or Aussie accents? 
These are excellent signs and should make you feel super comfortable that you’re in the right place.
Granger and Co. (heaps Aussie) 175 Westborne Grove W11 2SB or 50 Sekforde St EC1R
Ozone Coffee (totally kiwi bro) 11 Leonard Street, EC2A 4AQ

8. Are you the only person in the shop that doesn’t seem to know the staff?
You got to love that community feel and when a place has a bucket load of regulars it’s because they’re doing something (coffee) right…
The Fields Beneath 52 Prince of Wales Rd NW5 SNL

9. “Could I please get two shots in my iced latte?”
“All of our coffees have two shots”
Perfect. Drink coffee here.
Fernandez & Wells 73 Beak Street W1F 9RS

10. And lastly… check out the coffee machine. This may seem like an obvious one but sometimes, pre caffeine, you’re not at your prime concentration. If they don’t grind beans then and there be nervous.
Damson & Co, 21 Brewer Street Soho, W1F 0RL

If you think all of this advice is over the top and ridiculous: I envy you. Go as long as you can before you hit my level because up here it is anxious and jittery...

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