O, Canada(ian coffee)!

On Wednesday I went to an impromptu coffee cupping at Talkhouse Coffee in Notting Hill. One of their baristas, Elyse Bouvier, recently made a pilgrimage home to Canada, and brought back a generous selection of coffees from three top Western Canadian coffee roasters. We cupped eight coffees hailing from all over the world: El Salvador, Kenya, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and more. When all the crusts were broken and the slurping was done, two coffees stood heads and shoulders above the rest, picked by every single person at the cupping. Personally, I was partial to one more that the others didn’t seem to like as much. Read on to see which Canadian coffees are deserving of your attention, no matter where you live. View Post

London Coffee Festival Day 4: UKBC Finals

The last day of the London Coffee Festival 2013 was jam-packed with people, good coffee, and nail-biting suspense on the UKBC stage. The top six finalists from Saturday were scheduled to present again at 1:30 pm – the same presentations, the same coffees, the same people. However, the tension in the air was more palpable than before and the audience was much, much bigger. As each competitor took the stage, they took one final deep breath, closing their eyes before raising their hand to begin. As they launched into their speeches, rehearsed hundreds of times no doubt, you could see the nervousness give way to confidence and something like relief. This was it – in 15 short minutes, it would be out of their hands. Months of practice and research had come down to these last moments under the hot stage lighting with the eyes of the judges, the media, and the audience following their every move.

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The London Coffee Festival: UKBC Semifinals

Today is the last day of the London Coffee Festival, and the main event will be the UK Barista Championship finals.

The top 20 baristas in the UK battled it out yesterday for a chance to go on to the final. The top 6 will present again starting at 1:30 pm. Here’s a run-down of their presentations. (Please note that while not very many of the descriptions are in quotation marks, pretty much all the descriptions of the coffees are the exact way the competitors described them.)

First up will be Joe Meagher of Flat Caps Coffee in Newcastle.

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The London Coffee Festival: What to Expect

If you’re heading down to Brick Lane for the London Coffee Festival this weekend, there’s a lot for you to check out. Here’s a little preview of what happened today, what you can expect to find the rest of the festival, and what I think is worth checking out.

First off: you’re going to be drinking a lot of coffee. A LOT. At least I hope you are, because the quality of the coffee at the festival is, of course, very high. As any longtime coffee drinker will tell you, you’ll need to have some food in your stomach before you hit the hard stuff. I’d recommend going to Nude Espresso on Hanbury Street, just across from the entrance to the London Coffee Festival. I’ve always heard good things about their menu, but this morning I tried it for myself. I’m glad I did – I had one of the best eggs benedict in London. And believe me, I eat a lot of eggs benedict.

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Embassy East

Hoxton has a secret.

Right at the top of Hoxton Street, nestled in an inconspicuous strip of shops between a hair salon and a butcher, you’ll find it. Be watchful – if you hurry down the pavement with that typical Londoner’s stride, dismissing every other shop as you breeze along, you’ll miss it. You’ll find yourself in the gray no-man’s-land of flats and houses between Kingsland Road and Islington. Slow down, look carefully, and you’ll find it – Antipodean coffee bliss.

I’m talking, of course, about one of the newest shops to appear on the growing coffee scene in London: Embassy East. Open for just a month, it already shows tons of promise – and with a pedigree like theirs, it isn’t hard to see why.

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After Hours Coffee and Dessert

There are few things better in life than having an unhurried evening meal, followed by a hot cup of coffee, a nibble of something sweet, and good conversation over candlelight late into the night. The only way I can think of improving on that is skipping on the dinner altogether and making the coffee and dessert the main event. Thanks to a joint effort by Store Street Espresso and Live and Let Dine, now you can do just that.

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