A few weeks back we found ourselves on two coffee missions to London, the first being a trip to the London Coffee Festival. It was Danny and Heidi who went to this bustling; the former was DJing at the official after party while the latter was there to drink coffee and get inspiration. Here's Heidi's thoughts on the event:
The 2015 London Coffee Festival
The event was held in an old brewery that felt similar to Liverpool's own warehouses. It was an arty location with intentionally smashed-up cars adorning the site where there were two floors of coffee related stalls, stages and bars. Bliss. The first thing that hits you, after the overwhelming aroma of coffee, is just how friendly the attendees were. This reflects what we've seen for ourselves in 92 Degrees; coffee people are a chatty bunch. Not only did they share their thoughts with us, one kind lady insisted on sharing her lunch with me after she caught me glancing at it!
One of the highlights of day was marveling at the moustaches and the brews during the Coffee Masters barista competition that was won by Workshop’s James Bailey. Every round of the competition was crowded, so it was hard to get up close and personal with the action, but it was a nice atmosphere. We enjoyed tasting the wares of coffee importers and the London Coffee Festival organisers DR Wakefield and we also met up with fellow bean-purveyors Mercanta. There were so many coffee shops and roasters represented too, it was hard to pick a favourite. Island Coffee stood out as they actually lugged a Diedrich roaster, like the one we use in 92 Degrees, all the way to the show! Now that's commitment to coffee. On the other end of the scale, we stumbled across the Ikawa home roaster, which is now top of my Christmas list.
With all the caffeine bouncing around our brains, keeping the party going was essential. 92 Degrees Coffee are a music loving bunch and our director Danny is a whizz on the ones and twos, so he took to the decks at the after-show event. We headed into a Shoreditch basement where he spun bass-heavy beats old and new as the coffee was supplemented by beer.
Further London coffee adventures
The following week, different members of the 92 Degrees Coffee crew visited a few of London’s finest coffee dens before enjoying a tasting session at our coffee importer’s HQ. Phil talks us around their bold quest for the perfect cup:
It was polling day (yes, I’ve taken a while to write this up!) and we were in Westminster itself, with a view of the Houses of Parliament. While the headlines of all the papers on every newsstand shouted about politics, there were barely any signs that this was anything other than a regular day in the capital. We thought that you’d be able to smell politics in the air, but it turns out that London is an unstoppable blizzard of business and the small matter of an election does nothing to change that. Happily our meetings were over early and we had a very long wait for the train, so it was time to visit a few cool coffee hangouts…
Our first stop was at The Attendant, the elegant café that is fashioned out of a former public toilet. And when I say that it is situated in a lavatory, I mean it. There are tables that consist of little more than a plank of wood stretched across a urinal! The subterranean coffee shop boasts a broad menu of food, including some wicked sweet delights. Yes, we indulged, and it was all washed down with coffee, of course. The espresso, which is supplied by London coffee roasters Caravan, made for the ideal Americano.
Then we moved onto Black Sheep where we sat down with a cup of their Robusta. This was a stern, earthy concoction, not for the faint of heart. The Charlotte Street shop itself was perfect and very proudly displayed their roaster origins. The ceiling was entirely covered by pallets while the cold brew contraption sat amongst the tables.
Somewhere along the way we also made a stop at The Crepe Shop, a lovely little place that serves a good coffee and an even better pancake. My flavour of choice was peanut butter and jam; suffice to say it was the perfect crepe. It was washed down with the third Americano of the day - and despite this not being a dedicated coffee shop, it was a fine brew.
Our final destination was at coffee importers DR Wakefield. Despite the impromptu nature of our visit, they enthusiastically welcomed us into their daily cupping sessions. There were three Probat roasters that I suspect are running all through the working day. Laid out on the table were multiple samples of the day's roasts. For me this was an unusual experience, for the DR Wakefield team it was clearly part of their daily grind. Of all the samples on offer it was the Pacamara that hit our tastebuds the hardest. It delivered a grapefruit punch was powerful without being overpowering, a real pick-me-up. After all the slurping and spitting, this was one coffee that I took the opportunity to sip, savour and swallow instead. We returned to Liverpool with a few kilos of coffee samples, including a coffee cherry tea. It was the first to be tried back home in the coffee shop and it tasted far nicer than we anticipated. Maybe that should go on our list of teas?