East London Coffee Tour
I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes the mornings are a real struggle. It’s a cliche to harp on about what a monster one can be before you’ve had a strong hit of caffeine of a morning, but honestly, sometimes I reckon if I met a mountain troll before my first slurp of coffee, I’d be worried for how badly he’d come off.
Amidst all the identikit coffee chains that seem to crowd our street corners at the moment, the independent coffee scene is BUSTLING. New cafes are being opened all the time, and London seems to be getting a real taste for new methods of brewing the black stuff. The lovely folk behind the London Coffee Festival know this better than most, and so invited me to join them on their vintage Routemaster for a tour round the best independent coffee shops in the trendiest part of town.
First stop on the tour was Workshop Coffee Co on the Clerkenwell Road.
Workshop first opened their doors to serve their lightly roasted style coffee to the footfall of Farringdon in 2011. Since then, they’ve opened four other sites and are big on their craft brewing methods, including Aeropress which seems to be all the rage at the moment. We settled in at a huge table in the airy upstairs room and munched on some sourdough toast (topped with marmite, which wooed me instantly because marmite is incredible and everyone who hates it is wrong) and sipped on our first lattes of the day, whilst perusing our London Coffee Festival guide and assorted other bean-based reading material we’d been given.
Feeling 100% more like a member of the human race after the first cup of the day, we hopped into our crimson chariot and trundled over to Look Mum No Hands in Old Street.
As well as having one of the best names around, Look Mum No Hands is a cafe and cycle repair store all under one roof. They have a dedicated workshop, so you can pop in and get your bike fixed whilst you sip on a delicious flat white. When the sun sets, they also serve a range of craft beer and host cycle-themed events like speed dating for cyclists. It was so cool in there that I was almost tempted to take up cycling. And then I came to my senses and remembered what my thighs look like in cycling shorts.
From there, it was a mere hop, skip and a jump in the sunshine down to Timberyard, which I think was my favourite of all the stops on the tour. The staff were super friendly and had laid on an amazing spread for us, serving chemexes of coffee (a new spangly way of filtering coffee for a really clean taste), pots of hibiscus tea, which came complete with timers for the most accurate brew, insanely good peanut butter brownies and bowls of moreish popcorn from Joe and Seph’s.
The sofas and mismatched armchairs all around us were filled with people tapping away on laptops, chattering with friends and gazing at pages of well thumbed novels- Timberland is clearly a popular haunt.
Whilst we were munching down on the last of the delicious salted caramel popcorn, our bus was revved up and ready to take us over to Bulldog Edition at the Ace Hotel. This hip and happening hotel (really showing how down with the kids I am there with my super cool slang) is nestled in the middle of Shoreditch High Street, and Bulldog have a lobby coffee bar which is open to all, whether you’re staying at the hotel or not. The hotel have teamed up with Square Mile Coffee Roasters, to create a hugely detailed coffee menu, plus they have a ‘Doughut of the Day’ every day, so I mean that’s an excellent reason to visit. They’d set up a coffee station for us to try our hand at ‘cupping’, (a coffee tasting method) plus a platter of doughnut holes. Which disappeared in about five seconds.
I won’t lie, by this point, I was pretty buzzed, so at the next stop, Allpress I wimped out and had a decaf. Which is for losers but I was worried about being totally smacked off my tits on caffeine. However Allpress delivered a gorgeously smooth Flat White whilst hirsute chaps and gals with sailor tattoos breezed in and out- we were in Shoreditch after all.
Last stop on the tour was Lantana, a slice of Australia just off the Old Street Roundabout. Named after an Australian weed which flourishes on foreign soil, the coffee here is of consistently good quality so I’m told, making Lantana a solid entry on London’s Best Coffee list year after year.
They also serve some delicious looking cake.
Feeling slightly jittery but with my brain teeming with newly discovered knowledge about roasting, filtration and blending I bade goodbye to the gang of bloggers and press types and strolled away into the sunshine, more than a bit excited about visiting the London Coffee Festival. It’s on this weekend, at the Old Truman Brewery and promises to be a SMASHING event with talks from coffee masters, cocktail bars, live music, art exhibitions, and a whole area showcasing new fashion and design. PLUS 50% of all the ticket sales go to Project Waterfall, a fantastic charity aims to raise more than £1million to deliver safe drinking water and sanitation projects in coffee-producing countries in Africa. WIN. I’ll be there on Sunday, tucking into some Espresso Martinis, so come and say HELLO! Visit the website here for more information and tickets.
Right, I’m off to get a juice or something- need a slight break from the black bean in prep for this weekend’s marathon session because you know what they say- drinking too much coffee can lead to a latte problems.
Have a great day!