Article Archive: November 2013

Coffee?

I’m developing a very questionable addiction and I need your opinion. It’s nothing new, you’ve heard it from me before. You see, I’m developing an addiction to coffee.

It all started a good while back with my experience with the perfect flat white and it has become a bit of a thing with me since then. After that flat white coffee post came a spirited (animated) “chat” with my pal Conor who thinks his daily fix is the best flat white in London and comes courtesy of Nude Espresso (there’s one on Hanbury Street off Brick Lane and another on SoHo Square). He fits his coffee breaks into his intense studio routine, where at the end of a rewarding painting session he has a coffee.

I’ll tell you, when it comes to kick-starting my grey matter before I even start a project, nothing delivers quite such a hard blow than a good coffee. Yup I adore tea but putting ‘tea’ and ‘kick’ together in the same sentence doesn’t seem right somehow, unless you like it strong and I don’t. However I don’t mind my coffee being strong which is maybe why if I miss my morning coffee then my head will tell me. Ow!!!

So when I saw a nifty little machine that could brew me up a cup at home, I couldn’t resist the idea. No, trudging outside first thing in the morning even if wrapped up in my favourite scarf well it’s not the same as being able to have a coffee the minute you want it is it? So no more rain soaked hair. Yay!

It took one morning of fiddling about a bit with the different functions on my new machine to get used to it. I’ve never owned a coffee machine so one month in and well, if I’m to be honest, I’m pretty much hooked. It does have a few drawbacks however…

1. Yesterday, I had to restock its coffee pods at a department store where upon arrival, the whole place was geared up to make me feel like it was CHRISTMAS EVE!!!! Music, baubles, smell of Christmas, the whole nine yards… so I did what anyone in a hurry would do and walked in a straight line from the escalator chanting the words “coffeeeeee, coffeeeeee, coffeeeee….” to get to the Lavazza section without buying THE ENTIRE STORE. You’ve done that, right?

2. Another drawback is that each box of sixteen pods is just one type of coffee blend pod (or one colour if that makes more sense) and there are so many to choose from one can be easily convinced to “try a new colour”. A fellow pod shopper was clutching the last box of little blue ones. According to her “It’s the colour that’s the highest in demand.” “Why?” I asked “Because they’re decaf” she replied. Seriously? Do I even know a decaf drinker? Tell me, is it a thing???

3. Another pod shopper explained that “the office has bought a machine and girls (and boys), we buy our own pods depending on taste and preference.” So not only is there a decaf thing, apparently now there’s an office swapping thing as well. A sort of bartering coffee pod system where different coloured pods get swapped around offices like packed lunches at school. Is this a thing at your workplace? Tell me. See, most days I’m at the coal face alone and have little opportunity to swap anything. Fast-forward to me lugging a few boxes of pods home where I can swap them with um, myself.

So at this point, I should probably tell you the pods go into a little machine called a Lavazza A Modo Mio (I got the cappuccino model one called the “Favola Cappuccino”). The messieurs and madams for whom I’ve brewed a cappuccino say it tastes great. So please, tell me that I’m not ridiculously stupid, a total whack job and making my own coffee at home isn’t a completely stupid idea. My sister thinks that my one coffee a day habit (my morning fix) isn’t worth the bother. Just say it : Gisèle, you’re a lightweight. Okay

What’s your take on these homemade coffees? A trend on the rise? Love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Do we think it’ll become a thing?

The Flat White

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Can you tell my face was red when I wrote this? A few weeks ago in Milan I was laughed at for ordering a cappuccino at suppertime. I replaced my order with a latte and they laughed even more! Apparently the Milanese only drink milky coffees (cappuccinos, lattes) at breakfast and prefer a tiny espresso after supper. To be honest, I find espressos a bit strong so I asked for an espresso with loads of milk. Blank stares!

The enormous roaster inside the window was a good start

This week, I’m feeling a little less embarrassed because I discovered Allpress on Redchurch street with my friend Mark. I mentioned my Milanese experience to them and they introduced me to my first “flat white” — or “flattie” as it’s known in its native Australia and New Zealand. The enormous roaster inside the window at Allpress was a good start. Sure enough, the “flat white” they suggested made from the finest of beans was exactly what I was asking for (but couldn’t get) in Milan.

I didn’t know initially why I liked the “flat white”, it’s less foamy than a cappuccino but stronger than a latte, with a double dose of espresso, it’s basically a double espresso topped up with textured heated milk (milk from the bottom of the jug (no foam)). In the past I’d head up to Monmouth in Borough Market for a good drip coffee (they roast and sell some of London’s finest coffee beans) but it may be a while before I have to go again… I’ve been sucked into the underworld of the Australian coffeehouse and the “flat white” coffee.

The Flat White coffee store (they initially introduced the “flat white” concept to London) and Milkbar both based in Soho do a good “flat white”. Kaffeine (has one of the few Synesso Espresso Machines in London and does a great “flat white” too). A quick skip across Oxford street to Fitzrovia where Lantana located near Goodge Street station / Tottenham Court Road does a brilliant one. All four places are within walking distance of Oxford street and Topshop but a quick hop on to the tube to Liverpool street and then down Redchurch Street to Allpress is my fave experience. Allpress do alot more than a great “flat white” coffee, there’s a great communal table, fluffy white scones, and a Green Goddess sandwich; a poached egg, jamon, salad leaves and green herby mayonaisse stacked on ciabatta bread. The whole experience is adorable!

Flat White map of London

Flat White: 17 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0PT (tel: 020-7734 0370)

Milk Bar, 3 Bateman Street, Soho W1D 4AG (tel: 020-7287 4796)

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7QJ (tel: 020-7580 6755; www.kaffeine.co.uk )

Lantana, 13 Charlotte Place | Fiztrovia | London W1T 1SN (tel: 020 7637 3347, http://www.lantanacafe.co.uk )

Allpress Espresso, 58 Redchurch St London E2 7DP  (tel: 020 7749 1780; http://nz.allpressespresso.com )