Extracto Coffee Roasters, Prescott

The Extracto Coffee Roaster logo: a coffee bean held in a metal clamp.Since I’ve been starting my mornings with Extracto’s Eleven of Spades espresso blend, I thought I ought to write up my Coffee Spot on Extracto’s Prescott branch, which was the final stop on my second (and final) day in Portland, Oregon. Extracto is a chain of exactly two, the Prescott branch and the roastery/coffeehouse on Killingsworth, both of which are north of Portland city centre.

Ideally I’d have visited the roastery first, but it’s another 30 minutes further out from the city centre and I’d already done a lot of travelling between coffee shops that day, having started down to the south at Either/Or earlier that morning. Instead, I settled for the closer branch in Prescott village, where Prescott Street meets 15th Avenue in northeast Portland.

Set at the back of a courtyard, a little way off the busy Prescott Street, Extracto is a great little place. All the coffee is roasted over in Killingsworth. There’s a choice of the Eleven of Spades house-blend, a single-origin or decaf on espresso, while on pour-over there were four different beans on offer during my visit. A more extensive range of beans are on sale on a table by the counter.

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A chalkboard inside Leyas on Camden High Street, offering coffee, breakfast, lunch and cakes.I can see why fellow-blogger Matt (aka The Gladieater) likes Leyas so much. It’s a delightful spot on Camden High Street, within sight of the famous Mornington Crescent tube station. It has an interesting layout, with a split level. This could be a nightmare, but Leyas has used this to great effect: there’s a small group of tables on street level as you come in, then steps lead up to the counter and down to a lovely basement. It reminds me of a smaller, cosier version of the Boston Tea Party on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road.

Leyas regularly rotates its roasters, with a different option on espresso, pour-over (V60) and decaf. Sometimes they are all from the same roaster, and at other times it’s a different roaster for each. While I was there in November, Alchemy was doing the honours on espresso, Nude on pour-over and Square Mile on decaf. On my return in June it was Mission Coffee Works and now it’s the turn of Assembly.

However, Leyas isn’t just coffee. There’s an impressive selection of cakes, a massive range of sandwiches and salads, plus extensive breakfast and lunch menus, the food all made in the kitchen at the back.

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Mastering the Cezve with Vadim Granovskiy

A cezve on the gas burner, with the crema almost at the top, signifying it's time to serve it.I first met Vadim Granovskiy in 2014 at a London Coffee Stops Awards event, where he gave a fascinating presentation on the ibrik, or cezve, as Vadim prefers to call it. A few days later, I had the pleasure of watching Vadim win the Ibrik Competition at the London Coffee Festival, which only confirmed my interest in this unique way of making coffee. So, when I caught up with Vadim at this year’s London Coffee Festival and he offered me a private cezve lesson, I jumped at the chance!

The cezve is an ancient method of making coffee, with more in common with the stove-top moka pot than espresso or modern pour-over methods. My lesson took place one evening in early May and although the focus was the cezve, it wasn’t all about making coffee. We explored the cezve itself and how to look after it, as well going on a journey of taste and perception which was every bit as fascinating as, for example, the Cimbali sensory sessions at this year’s Coffee Festival.

As well as the intensive lesson I had, Vadim also runs introductory workshops for 10-15 people. For more details, take a look at his website www.coffeeinaction.com.

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Tandem Coffee Roastery

A light bulb in the shape of a tandem bicycle from the wall of the Tandem Coffee Roasters RoasteryThere are times when you feel that maybe the Coffee Gods don’t want you to visit somewhere. Rolling into Portland (Maine) one morning, I took my time settling into my hotel, intending to wander over to visit Tandem Coffee Roasters in due course. Fortunately, I checked on-line. It closes at 2 pm. The time? Just gone noon! And it’s where? Oh, about as far away from my hotel as is possible…

One brisk walk later on a hot, summer’s afternoon, I arrived in a very unpromising neighbourhood. Let’s just say it looks industrial. Oh, and they were digging the road up. Not ordinary roadworks. Oh no, the whole road. Anyone would think they’d seen me coming.

Tandem Coffee Roasters is a fairly recent arrival in Portland, joining the likes of Bard Coffee and Speckled Ax [coming soon to the Coffee Spot]. It has two outlets, the Roastery, subject of today’s Coffee, Spot, and the Bakery [coming soon to the Coffee Spot] which I’d unknowingly walked past on my way into town (it’s cunningly disguised as a gas station). The roastery consists of, unsurprisingly, the roastery, where Tandem roasts all its coffee, and a lovely little coffee bar, where you can drink said coffee. As long as you get there by two o’clock…

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Notes, King’s Cross

Note's slogan on the wall at King's Cross: Coffee for Early Birds, Wine for Night Owls.Notes was always more than just a coffee shop, mixing coffee by day with wine and small plates of an evening, in surroundings that spoke of elegance. For a while, there was Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and various coffee barrows. Then, two years ago, along came a roastery and now, within the space of a year, four new stores, with a heavily over-subscribed foray into crowd-funding to fund further expansion (albeit at the expense of Covent Garden and all but one barrow).

King’s Cross/St Pancras, just north of King’s Cross, between Noble Espresso and Caravan, is the only new Notes that I’ve visited, but if it’s indicative of the others, London’s in for a treat. Smaller (and hence more intimate) than the original Notes, you can sit downstairs, opposite the counter, or upstairs in the cosy mezzanine. Alternatively, try the great selection of outdoor seating on the secluded Pancras Square.

With coffee roasted at the nearby Notes Roastery, there’s a single-origin (which changes every couple of months) and decaf on espresso. Another single-origin is on filter, available either as a V60 or bulk-brew. This changes every few days, Notes rotating through its selection of single-origins as each bag runs out.

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Foundry Coffee Roasters

A V60 at Foundry Coffee Roasters, standing on a glass beaker half full of coffee, all on a set of scales.As I have written elsewhere about Sheffield’s coffee scene, it very much grew up independently and spontaneously about three years ago. This holds true as much for its cafés as it does for its roasters, typified by the subject of today’s Meet The Roaster series, Foundry. Set up almost three years ago by founder, Lee, Foundry is content to do its own thing, in its own way and at its own pace.

Concentrating on roasting solely single origins and on selling primarily directly to the consumer through the internet, Foundry initially focused more on the filter market than espresso, which makes up the bulk of a typical roaster’s sales. Then again, there’s nothing typical about Foundry! Foundry diversified into espresso when the second member of the team, Callum, came on board.

These days, Foundry roasts five or six single-origin beans, looking to extract the flavours that Lee identifies in the green bean. The aim is to get the optimum roast profile and then work out what extraction method best suits it, with a focus on the clarity of the taste. You can find Foundry’s output on its website although the coffee’s also available in a limited number of coffee shops.

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Beany Green, Euston

A pair of multi-coloured, Beany Green banana-themed deckchairs. Each bears the slogan "Your banana needs you" although the word banana is replaced with the picture of a partially-peeled banana.I’m sticking with the naming convention of calling the Beany Greens by the train station that they are closest to. So although this, the fourth of the Beany Greens (if you count Daisy Green as the first), is in the Regent’s Place development, I’m calling it the Euston Beany Green to go with Paddington (Sheldon Square), Liverpool Street (Broadgate Circle) and South Bank (midway between Waterloo and Charing Cross).

Regent’s Place itself is a couple of streets west of Euston. Set back a little from the busy Euston Road, Beany Green is on the pedestrianised Brock Street, connecting Regent’s Square to Hampstead Road to the east. It’s also right on top of Warren Street tube station and around the corner from Euston Square (which is between it and Euston Station).

Of the permanent Beanies, it’s the smallest, but it might have the most comfortable seats, which is a shame since 95% of the trade (based on my visits) is takeaway. It’s also got a nice, sheltered, shady outdoor seating area on the pedestrianised street-front. There’s the same Beany Green goodness though, with innovative, healthy food offerings and excellent coffee from The Roasting Party, although space limitations mean it’s espresso-based only.

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Look Mum No Hands! Mare Street

A flat white, with lovely latte art, in a classic white bowl cup, with the Look Mum No Hands! logo on the frontSlowly but surely, London Fields, beyond trendy Shoreditch on the commuter lines out of Liverpool Street, is becoming a coffee destination. Long-time home to stalwarts Climpson and Sons on Broadway Market, and more recently, with the roastery under the railway arches, it’s been joined in recent years by Terrone, at Netil Market, and the latest arrival, the well-regarded Silhouette. It’s also where London coffee-and-cycling giants, Look Mum No Hands!, chose to open its second permanent branch on Mare Street.

For those familiar with the original Look Mum No Hands! on Old Street or the South Bank Pop-up (back again for another summer), the branch on Mare Street will hold no surprises, serving up the same winning menu of Square Mile coffee, craft beer, substantial food (when the kitchen’s not closed!) and bikes. There are fewer bikes than at Old Street, the emphasis here slightly more on the coffee, beer and food. There’s also less outside seating, the selection limited to a little bench outside the side door and a pair of picnic tables on the broad pavement out front. However, to compensate for these minor shortcomings, the interior’s even bigger than the substantial Old Street and the pace more relaxed.

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London Coffee Festival 2015: The Cups

The London Coffee Festival LogoWelcome to the fourth of my detailed London Coffee Festival Saturday Supplements. To see what I made of the festival as a whole, take a look at my round-up. In this series, I’ve been covering individual aspects of the festival. So far I’ve looked at the interesting coffee kit that I came across, written about my coffee experiences and recounted my time at the La Cimbali Sensory Sessions. Now it’s the turn of the cups, which, much to my surprise, turned out to be by far the most popular of my posts about last year’s London Coffee Festival.

I’m very picky about my cups: a bad cup can ruin an otherwise great cup of coffee. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s good coffee, especially espresso, in a paper or plastic cup. The advent of the glass reusable cup was therefore just what I was looking for. Last year, I picked up a couple of re-usable glass cups from KeepCup and its Australian cousin, JOCO Cups, which revolutionised my experience of drinking takeaway coffee. This year, I widened my net to include two new entrants onto the market, both of whom had plastic re-usable cups: UPPERCUP and Frank Green.

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Pavement Coffeehouse, Gainsborough

A plain white mug with the words "Pavement Coffeehouse" in black, The logo is completed by a drawing of an arm and hand holding a coffee mug, the arm bent to mimic the curve of the mug's handle.As much as I liked the original Pavement Coffeehouse on Boylston, which I visited last year, in comparison, I adored the Gainsborough branch. Both are in Boston’s Back Bay and are, in fact, just ten minutes’ walk from each other, albeit on different branches of Boston’s Green Line. Along with the equally close Render Coffee, they make the neighbourhood a go-to area for great coffee.

All the Pavements serve Counter Culture coffee. At Gainsborough, different beans, which change every two months or so, are available on espresso, bulk-brew and hand-pour, plus there’s a decaf option too. During my visit, they were all single-origins: a Bolivian Nueva Llusta on both espresso & bulk-brew, with a Kenyan Muthonjo on Aeropress (there’s usually a Chemex option on hand-pour as well), while the decaf was Peruvian.

The food is similar to Boylston: bagels and lunch/breakfast sandwiches, plus salads and cake. However, in terms of layout and atmosphere, Gainsborough and Boylston are like chalk and cheese. While Boylston is long, thin and very hectic, Gainsborough is square (in shape) and much more relaxed. There’s probably not much to choose between the two in size, but Gainsborough feels bigger and is certainly more spacious.

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