The KuPP logo in red neon.KuPP is the latest addition to the area around Paddington Station, joining the likes of Beany Green in bringing speciality coffee to this part of London. KuPP, which opened at the end of March, is half-way down Paddington Basin, on the opposite side from Saint Mary’s hospital. All things to all people, KuPP is a Scandinavian-inspired bar, restaurant and coffee shop. Obviously, I’ll be focusing on the coffee shop, but having lunched there, I can also pass comment on the food. As to the bar, I shall leave that to those more qualified than me to judge. It looks impressive though!

KuPP occupies what, in coffee shop terms, is an enormous space. Think Caravan, King’s Cross size, but with a more interesting layout. The bulk of KuPP is devoted to a large dining area, with fully-retractable windows that join it up to the outside seating along the quayside. Next to that, there’s a well-stocked bar and, at the far end, a (comparatively) small but beautifully-appointed coffee shop.

The coffee’s a bespoke blend, roasted by Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, a second option on bulk-brew filter, plus tea from Canton Tea Co and Kokoa Collection’s hot chocolate.

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Electric Coffee Company

A flat white in a classic black cup at the Electric Coffee Company in Ealing.When the history of the recent explosion in speciality coffee in London is written, lots of attention will be given to central London and the influence that the Kiwis and Aussies had on the scene. However, I hope a chapter or two is dedicated the London borough of Ealing, so often overlooked, and to the early home-grown pioneers such as Munson’s and today’s Coffee Spot, the Electric Coffee Company.

Sat right outside Ealing Broadway station at the end of the District and Central lines and on the mainline into Paddington, there’s really no excuse for not visiting the Electric Coffee Company (although one might ask where I’ve been in the almost three years since I started the Coffee Spot…). Half of the buses to Ealing also seem to terminate outside its doors, spilling out their passengers and almost begging them to go in for coffee.

For the last seven years, the Electric Coffee Company, with husband and wife Simon and Oksana at the helm, has been serving fine coffee to commuters and residents alike. In a recent development, it has also begun roasting its own beans, under the name of Automaton Precision Roasters, in a dedicated roastery down in Sussex.

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Coffee Stops Awards 2015 – The Winners

The Best Media For Coffee Award at the UK Coffee Stops Award for 2015.So, it’s that time of year again. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be involved Coffee Stops Awards, set up by Chris Ward to promote all that’s good about the independent coffee sector in London. This year, the Awards are back, bigger and better than before and now covering the entire UK.

Last year I was in the running the Best London Coffee Blog Award, where I eventually finished second behind the winner, Daniel of Cups of London Coffee. This year Daniel and I were back, this time in the expanded category of Best Media for Coffee, where we were up against some seriously stiff competition, including professional publications such as Caffeine Magazine and on-line powerhouses like the Coffee Forums UK.

As with last year, there were 10 categories in the awards, each one chosen by popular vote. Voting closed on Wednesday at four o’clock, just hours before the Awards were presented at the Caffè Culture Show. In all, over 60,000 people voted this year, an impressive turn out. Thank you to everyone who voted, especially those who voted for me!

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Greenstreet Coffee Co

A decaf piccolo with amazing latte art from Greenstreet Coffee Co, PhiladelphiaGreenstreet Coffee Co is something of a fixture in the fledgling Philadelphia speciality coffee scene. It’s been around for five years as a roaster, supplying local cafés such as Café Twelve [coming soon to the Coffee Spot]. Two years ago, it opened its first (and so far only) coffee shop on the corner of Spruce and S 11th Streets, just south of the centre where it joins a growing band of speciality coffee places.

Greenstreet itself is pretty small, with just enough room for a couple of small rows of tables along the windows and some more seating outside. Although the interior is lovely and the outdoor seating’s some of the most comfortable-looking that I’ve seen in a while, the real draw is the coffee, with a wide range of Greensmith’s considerable output available at any one time.

During my visit, there were two single-origins on espresso plus the house-blend, Lupara, and a decaf, Starlight, all on a pair of twin grinders. The two single-origins were also available as filter, where they were joined by another four single-origins, to be enjoyed through either Aeropress or Chemex. There’s also a Syphon option on the menu, plus cold brew and nitro cold brew. Even the tea selection’s decent!

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Mr Wolfe

The words Mr Wolfe Cafe in white on black taken from the side of the building.Mr Wolfe is one of those places which is preceded by its reputation. It’s also one of those places where its reputation is far greater than the actual place itself. Not that Mr Wolfe fails to live up to its reputation, far from it. It’s just that Mr Wolfe has such a big (and good) reputation, far in excess of its small physical size.

Tucked away on Montpelier Place on the Hove side of Brighton, it’s on the next street back from the main east-west artery, the Western Road. A stone’s throw from Small Batch Coffee’s lovely Norfolk Square branch [coming soon to the Coffee Spot], Mr Wolfe is just a little off the beaten track, making it a quiet alternative to many of Brighton’s bustling coffee shops.

This does mean that you have to track it down, but, on the plus side, it means that everyone who comes in really wants to be there, which all contributes to a friendly, neighbourhood atmosphere. It’s like popping around to a mate’s for (really good) coffee and some excellent home-made cake. To push the metaphor a little further, Mr Wolfe’s a mate who’ll also make you sandwiches or poached eggs, plus he’ll do you brunch at the weekend.

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London Coffee Festival 2015: Round-up

The London Coffee Festival LogoIt’s been a busy few weeks for the Coffee Spot, with lots of travel and extra-curricular activities, culminating in the three days I spent at this year’s London Coffee Festival. However, it doesn’t end there, since this week will see the Caffè Culture Show, where I’m judging one set of Awards, while simultaneously being in the running for an award of my own in the annual Coffee Stops Awards (this year extended from London to the whole of the UK).

However, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s get back to the London Coffee Festival, which, I’ll venture to say, was bigger and significantly better than last year’s event. Just like last year, I’ll be writing a series of themed Saturday Supplements, each covering a different area, combining my experiences across the three days that I attended (Friday, an industry day, and the two consumer days, Saturday and Sunday).

Today’s Saturday Supplement features a general round-up of the festival, what I made of it, the highs and lows, and what was different from last year. The remainder will cover kit, cups (yes, once again, cups played a large part in my Coffee Festival), my coffee experiences and the coffee itself.

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Brooklyn Roasting Company, Jay Street

A double espresso shot from the Brooklyn Roasting Company, freshly pulled, in a thermally-insulated shot glass. The fully developed crema will soon dissipate.At the bottom of Jay Street, which runs alongside the Manhattan Bridge (my usual gateway into Brooklyn) the Brooklyn Roasting Company makes a great first stop when exploring the area (it’s also convenient for the York Street metro stop on the F line). Occupying the ground floor of a sprawling five-storey building, the Brooklyn Roasting Company is an amazing spot. Some coffee shops go to great lengths to achieve that stripped-back, industrial look; the Brooklyn Roasting Company simply moved into a 19th century stables down by the East River and, voila, there you have it.

There’s a wide range of coffee on offer, with a standard espresso bar at one end of the building and a more experimental, speciality lab at the other, so all tastes should be catered for. As well as being a wonderful space to drink coffee, Jay Street is also headquarters of the Brooklyn Roasting Company, which means all the roasting gets done here. So, if that’s your sort of thing, you can sit in the far corner, by the lab, watching the green beans being hoovered into the 35kg Loring roaster and enjoying the spectacle of the freshly-roasted beans pouring out some 12 minutes later.

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Coffee Stops Awards 2015

Daniel, winner of the Coffee Stops Awards "Best London Coffee Blogger", flanked by the two bloggers he pipped for the award, yours truly, and Jonny of London Cafe Review. If you cast your mind back to this time last year, you will remember the inaugural Coffee Stops Awards, set up by Chris Ward to promote all that’s good about the independent coffee sector. Back then, the Awards just covered London, but fast-forward to this year, and Chris has rolled them out to cover the entire UK, more than enough reason to get behind the Awards and give them some support!

However, those with good memories will also realise that I have a vested interest, since in 2014, I was in the running for the Best London Coffee Blog Award, eventually finishing second behind the winner, Daniel of Cups of London Coffee. This year Daniel and I are back, this time in the expanded category of Best Media for Coffee, where we’re up against some seriously stiff competition, including professional publications such as Caffeine Magazine and Time Out, plus apps such as London’s Best Coffee.

There are 10 categories in this year’s awards and you can vote once per day in each category.  Voting closes at 4pm on Wednesday, May 13th, so if you want to have your say, you’ve got a whole week to get your voting done.

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Beany Green, Liverpool Street

A flat white at Beany Green in Broadgate Circle, with the latte art holding its pattern all the way down to the bottom of the cup.The latest Beany Green, the fifth to date, is in the newly-refurbished Broadgate Circle, just northwest of Liverpool Street Station. It’s a lovely setting, perhaps Beany’s most ambitious yet, but goes back to Beany’s roots, replacing a hole-in-the-wall takeout operation that, for the last couple of years, had served coffee to Liverpool Street from just across the way from the new location.

At first sight, the new Beany’s quite small, just large enough for four tables and a couple of window bars. However, just like the original Daisy Green, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. For starters, if you skip the front door and go around to the right, you’ll find two dedicated takeaway windows which are an excellent idea. Even better, if you keep on going, you’ll come out on the Beany Balcony, overlooking the interior of Broadgate Circle. On a sunny day, there’s no better spot!

All the usual Beany features are here: super-friendly staff, excellent espresso-based coffee from The Roasting Party, fresh flowers on the tables, an obsession with bananas and deckchairs, quirky artwork from Shuby and innovative food. Add to that beer, wine and cocktails and you’re on to a real winner!

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Made by Knock: Hausgrind and Feldgrind

Two sets of wooden cylinders for Knock's feldgrind hand-grinders.I first came across Made by Knock (technically the company is Knock, but goes by “Made By Knock” on the web) and its fabulous hand-grinders at last year’s London Coffee Festival. Several people told me about these wonderful wooden grinders that I had to see. So, on the final day of the festival, I made my way to Knock’s stand and spent a happy hour with Peter, Knock’s co-owner, playing with the grinder, the hausgrind, and watching various demonstrations. From my enthusiastic write-up, you could tell that I had already fallen in love with the hausgrind.

My next encounter came later that year at Cup North, where I ran into Peter and Knock on the Dear Green Coffee stand. Here I discovered that Knock had a smaller, lighter (and cheaper) version of the hausgrind, the feldgrind. I fear that in a moment of madness, I may have agreed to buy one.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was on a train to Edinburgh and, before long, was making my way down to Portobello, the home of Knock, where I had an appointment with Peter and, unknown to me, a very endearing little chap called Woody…

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