Archive

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tapped and Packed (TAP) is a name that dominates coffee north of Oxford Street. With two stores in a relatively untapped area of central London, this was a name that I heard immediately upon asking of good coffee near the Universities. The irony is, Tapped and Packed on Rathbone Place has no exterior indication of its name, and so is easy to slip past unless you know what you’re looking for. The elegant and minimalist shopfront is carried out through the whole shop, which is quintessentially narrow and long. During busy periods, it can be difficult to get a seat, but it is usually quite a plausible hope.

The food at Tapped and Packed is very good, and goes above what is expected of a coffee shop of this size. Substantial sandwiches and cakey objects are available for the hungry, and these are of a high quality. The sandwiches I have tried came in baguettes, with a good amount of filling and sauce, giving moisture and zest to the sandwich.

The coffee used is Has Bean, and filter coffee is celebrated here. Three filters are currently on offer (an Ethiopian, Kenyan and Costa Rican) and all of them are very finely brewed. The Costa Rican is a very rough flavour, and may have been slightly overbrewed as well. But when I had the Ethiopian, it was superb, and rounded, with well-balanced flavour. The current seasonal espresso is also very powerful, and was perfectly extracted in my flat white, thereby cutting through the milk. Coffee is well-respected (as can be heard in the Australasian accents that almost exclusively occupy the espresso machine).

I still have yet to try the other Tapped and Packed shops, and will leave off my final judgement of the group until I’ve been there. But this is a place that I can go back to, and with a loyalty card that rewards after 6 drinks, I can go back again and again and again.

Notes
TAP website
Tapped and Packed blog
@tapcoffee
Has Bean Roaster

Advertisements

I have just started a new course, and I’m based in Bloomsbury. Naturally, I set out to scope the local coffee scene. I am well used to the high quality of coffee that you can find in London, but the concentration of coffee shops in Bloomsbury/Fitzrovia took me by surprise. For students, and others based in this area, Store Street Espresso is the most distance-efficient option and has become my local when on campus. But, in truth, we are spoilt for choice.

I’ve already visited Store Street a few times and not yet got round to writing a review, which is why there are more pictures of coffee than normal. There is V60 Pourover and Aeropress on the menu for filter buffs, as well as a standard range of espresso based coffees, as well as (currently at least) a guest espresso. All coffee is Square Mile. At the moment, the V60 is my pick. The Kangocho Peaberry bean tastes fantastic through the V60, fruity and bold, this coffee takes no prisoners. All the cups I’ve had at Store Street have been very well made and the staff are very passionate and know what they are doing. The only negative I can give is that I had a slightly bitter double espresso, but this was apologised for, and I gather it was a one off problem with the dialling in/espresso machine.

The food is simple, and they buy it in from outside. Mostly ciabatta sandwiches and some very nice pastries and quiches. But food isn’t the prime target of Store Street Espresso: coffee is. The pricing is quite standard for London, but they do a loyalty card (great for students!) that gets your eighth coffee free. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the location of Store Street and its small size means that it’s usually very busy and difficult to get seats. Persevere though, because the atmosphere is vibrant!

Notes
Store Street Espresso
@StoreStEspresso
Square Mile Roasters

It recently emerged that Starbucks are paying very little in tax and have paid no corporation tax for the last three years. There is nothing illegal going on in terms of tax evasion, they insist, but the discovery may do damage to a brand that puts itself out as a carefree, mildly redistributive form of doing business. Being involved in Fairtrade, for instance, is one of the reasons why a customer chooses Starbucks over, say, Costa or Caffe Nero.

But why opt for another chain when there are so many independents out there making better coffees, in an ethically-aware way. I write on this blog about the many coffee shops all over the country that produce great coffee, and though I haven’t audited all of them, I’m sure the majority are too small to be running funds through other countries. On top of this, because the quality of the beans is higher, and the craftmanship is deeper, independent coffee shops often produce far better cups of coffee for very similar prices to the big chains. This is how I can afford to harp on about the complexities of a single cup, as if it were a wine.

As a result of the shattering of the Starbucks veneer, a small group in South East England have started the ‘Campaign for Real Coffee‘ on Facebook, attempting to raise awareness of Starbucks’ tax avoidance and the effort that goes into making every cup special in independent, artisan coffee shops. Not only do you get better flavour for your money, your money is also not going straight to shareholders.

 

Notes
Campaign for Real Coffee
BBC news Starbucks story
Starbucks ‘commitment to the UK’
If you want to learn more about the advantages of artisan coffee shops either read more of this blog, or  something like this is a good place to start.

This is a translation of a previous post for my Danish course. If you are an English reader, please feel free to read the original (or as much of the Danish as you can!).

**************************

Det her er min sidste post om Parisian kaffe. Jeg efterlod den til sidst fordi det fører bedest til min næste anmeldese serie som vil focusere på London kafeer. I TÉLESCOPE skeer der et Londonisationprojekt. Sådan ser der ud til mig ihvertfall: en lille menu, de koncentrer sig på et lille udvalg af kaffe og kage. Betydligt, er det næsten umuligt af komme ind af døren fordi af alle cyklerne i vejen. Hipstercentral i Paris.

Jeg have beskrivet miljøden. Men til af udvilke, TÉLESCOPE er meget minimalistisk, med flødefarvede vægge og en kælder uden møbler. Jeg er ikke klar over hvad kælderen er for. Men det gør ikke noget! Kafeen er også lille og mennesker står udenfør når det er travlt. Til sidst: ‘Funkentelechy’ var på radioen. Det kunne jeg god lide.

‘Cremen’ er det nærmeste til en latte og jeg synes af kaffen er fremragende. Jeg tror bønnerne de bruger er Has Bean da der var Has Bean udstyr tilstede, men der var også andre slags bønner til salg. Detaljerne er udvigtige: kaffen var meget glat men kraftig. Jeg var tilbage i London for tyve minuten af nostalgi.

Til sidst vil jesg sige at TÉLESCOPE er umulig at finde, men er midt i Paris. Den er kun fem minuter frå Rue de Rivoli, men hvis man ikke ved hvor man skal gå, så kan bleve fortabt. Tage et kort. Kaffeturisme i Paris kræver et kort.

Fernandez and Wells is a name that is synonymous with the London coffee movement. With wonderful premises in Sohon and Somerset House, it is easy to be swept away in the theatrics. But I like my coffee simple and close to the bone, which is why I decided to seek out the small Fernandez and Wells shop a stone’s throw from Soho, lovingly called St Annes, after the alley (and it isn’t much more than that) where you can find it.

Despite being so in tune with the coffee crowd, there is much more to Fernandez and Wells than just this. The little shop is almost missable, even if you can find the right street, which is a bustling but well-concealed. However, it is seductive, with a beautiful display of sandwiches aimed to entice you in. That’s the first thing they’ve done well that one comes not to expect where there is good coffee: good food. Now I may not write about it much, but I love my food. It’s a constant disappointment to me that a coffee shop sees food as secondary to the coffee. But Fernandez and Wells does not. The sandwiches are beautifully crafted: my portion (highly recommended) was a pulled pork ciabatta, toasted with apple sauce. Aside from being a little dry from the thickness of the bread, the flavours and the quality of the ingredients was absolutely top notch. The apple sauce cut superbly through the pork.

Of course, there is also the coffee, supplied by Has Bean, which is a welcome change from the legions of Square Mile and Monmouth that now lines London’s streets. The particular piccolo I had was very nicely brewed. The beginning of the flavour comes through with a clear, but indistinctive coffee taste, which all of a sudden turns to a sublime nuttiness. Almost like a praline. Wonderfully clean and concise coffee. All the coffee in this shop is espresso-based, so do not expect choice. But do expect a well crafted coffee, blossoming with perfect extraction.

The last thing to note about Fernandez and Wells is the ambience. And I don’t just mean the ambient atmosphere. With connections to local micro-breweries and a heavy connection with food, this is not your average third wave coffee bar. St Annes works within the triumvirate of the Soho F&W shops to cater to a multitude of tastes. With wine on the menu and opening hours that mirror a French Bistrot, this place is about much more than just the coffee.

 

Notes
Fernandez and Wells website
@FandWCoffee
Has Bean Roasters

This is my last post in Parisian coffee. I saved this one until last because it leads best into my next series of reviews, which will centre around London coffee shops. At TÉLESCOPE there is a project of Londonisation going on. Or that’s the way it appeared to me at any rate: small menu, a focus on a small range of coffees and a smattering of cake. More importantly, it’s almost impossible to get through the door for all the fixies sitting outside. Hipster central in Paris.

The ambience has been described. But just to develop this, TÉLESCOPE is minimalist to the extreme with cream plaster walls and a downstairs that is like a wine cellar, without any furniture or wine. In fact, it’s not clear if the downstairs has any purpose. Not that it matters! But this place is small too, with people standing outside during busy periods. One last thing to mention: ‘Funkentelchy’ was being played on the sound system. Brilliant.

On to the coffee. The ‘creme’ is the closest thing to a latte (for more info on French coffee names see my look at Parisian coffee en generale) and I found the coffee to be excellent. I think the coffee used may have been Has Bean, there was certainly a Has Bean tamper lying around, but the pictured bags of beans seem to be personalised for this specific shop. Whatever went into the espresso machine it made for incredibly smooth, but full-flavoured coffee. It was like being back in London for twenty nostalgic minutes.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that TÉLESCOPE is almost impossible to find, but is quite near to the centre. It is only five minutes from the Rue de Rivoli but if you don’t know what you’re looking for you could walk right past the street you need. Bring a map. Coffee tourism in Paris requires a map.

Notes
TÉLESCOPE website (in French and English)
Again, a reference to Rachel Khoo‘s website that held the most reliable recommendations for coffee in Paris

In my previous post, I made a big deal out of the fact that Paris has some sort of phobia for good quality coffee. However, there are some bastions of resistance to this collective coffee apathy. One such place is La Caféothèque, a small roaster/cafe just off the North side of the Seine. The location is good, but it is hidden. It is only a short walk from L’Hotel De Ville and very central.

The passion of the staff is obvious, even accounting for the language barrier (most of them speak varying degrees of English). All the coffee served is roasted on the premises and as such there is plenty to choose from, however, I opted for the coffee of the day, a small-bodied Guatemalan number which was nevertheless quite wily. An overall pleasant filter, that I would not have been disappointed with in a more coffee-friendly city. I had to wait a bit for my V60 (vee-soixante), but the barista was very kind and came and offered gave me a complimentary latte for having to wait. The latte actually struggled to shine, and I feel like the espresso failed to come through adequately (but it was free, so who cares!).

The ambience there is like any of the best in London, but much calmer and more chilled. There is something of a nice residue of the Paris intelligentsia with patrons reading and making notes in their notebooks. However, the inspiration from the English-speaking coffee culture is obvious as several filters are on offer (see the picture of the menu).

The barista here gave me a lot of information about the embryonic coffee culture in Paris. They have been roasting for years, but barely even make enough coffee to cover their own needs. They don’t sell to other coffee shops in Paris (a system that sustains London coffee culture) but they sell to some restaurants in France. From my short experience of their beans, I think they’re doing incredibly well, especially considering they are a somewhat isolated venture in Paris.

Notes
La Caféothèque website (in French)

Le Caféothèque photo blog on Rachael Khoo’s website that proved most trustworthy for finding coffee in Paris. In English, written by a wonderful food writer.