Café Integral, American Two Shot

A single-serve Kalita Wave filter at Cafe Integral, New York City, seen from above.Café Integral is not somewhere that you easily stumble upon. I found it thanks to several recommendations, not least from my friends Heather & Tim, who I stay with in New Jersey (the recommendation was specifically from Tim, who is a semi-regular there). It’s actually across the street from one of my New York favourites, Gasoline Alley, so I must have walked past it many times before my visit. In defence of my usually infallible coffee radar, it’s tucked away inside a clothing store, American Two Shot, with only an A-board outside to let you know it’s there.

Other than its location, Café Integral’s main claim to fame is that it only serves Nicaraguan coffee, its owners, the Vega family, having close ties with several farms in the country. There are now two coffee shops in New York, and another in Chicago, which makes it a national chain. Sort of. All the coffee is sourced in Nicaragua and roasted in a facility over on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn. There’s a blend on espresso plus two single-origins, a pour-over using the Kalita Wave, with the other available on bulk-brew. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a selection of cakes and cookies.

May 2017: I’ve just learnt that Café Integral has shut its coffee bar in American Two Shot. Thanks to Nick for the heads-up. If you are in the area, then Café Integral now has its own coffee shop around the corner at 149 Elizabeth Street.

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Parlor Coffee

A simple blackboard with "Parlor Coffee | Serving Daily | Back of Barber-shop" written in white block capitals.Walking along Brooklyn’s Havemeyer Street, on my way from Northerly Coffee to Gimme! Coffee, something caught my eye at the street’s northern end. It looked like an old-fashioned barbershop, but a sign in the window, plus an A-board outside, proclaimed it to be the home of Parlor Coffee. A little bell rang in the back of my mind. Hadn’t my friend, Greg, of CoffeeGuru App fame, told me about somewhere in the back of a barbershop? Intrigued, I headed inside.

Persons of Interest is the name of the barbershop in question and Parlor Coffee is indeed a lovely little coffee shop, tucked away at the back in what may have been an old storeroom. There’s room enough for a one-group Kees van der Westen Speedster espresso machine (plus a single grinder), serving single-origin coffee roasted in-house by Parlor. An unexpected bonus is that your coffee comes in a proper cup!

May 2017: I have just learned that Parlor Coffee has closed its location in Persons of Interest. With thanks to Nick for the heads up.

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Bunker Coffee & Kitchen

The word BUNKER written in white, in the centre of a large black circle, with the smaller words "COFFEE & KITCHEN" written below/When it comes to Bunker Coffee & Kitchen, the first thing that most people I talked to in Newcastle said is that it does excellent food. Having had a fantastic lunch there, I can attest to this first hand. However, this seems to overlook the other part of Bunker’s title, namely the coffee. Like, for example, Jesmond’s Café 1901, Bunker’s built its reputation on food, while it seems that its excellent coffee has passed by almost unnoticed. This, I feel, is a shame, since the coffee I had was pretty damn good too.

Bunker occupies an almost-basement in a large, curved building at the top of Newcastle’s Carliol Square. It’s a large, uncluttered space, with plenty of seating, the sort of place you could hold a business meeting in or sit with your laptop for an afternoon. The food’s all freshly-prepared on site and the lunch menu, with soup, curry, salad box and a choice of three wraps, changes daily. The coffee, which, in contrast, only changes every couple of weeks, is from local roaster, Colour Coffee. There are single-origins on espresso, filter (V60, Aeropress or Chemex for two) or, if you’re in a hurry, batch-brew from the ever-reliable Moccamaster.

November 2016: Bunker Coffee is no more, but rather than closing completely, the space was taken over by Joe of Flat Caps fame, reopening as Flat Caps Carliol Square.

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Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up 2016

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.It’s that time of year again: summer’s on the way (although as I write this, I’ve had the heating on and it poured with rain all day) and the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up has once again appeared under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. A fixture since 2013, the Look Mum No Hand’s pop-up joins the (sort of) all-year-round options of the Beany Green container and Bean About Town at the Real Food Market. When I last visited, in 2014, Look Mum No Hands! had already expanded considerably since its first year. Unexpectedly finding myself in London last Saturday, I naturally made a bee-line for Queen’s Walk to see what had changed this time around.

I’m pleased to say that this year, Look Mum No Hands! is bigger than ever before, with an expanded seating area under the cover of the bridge and even more food/drink options. There’s the ubiquitous Red Brick on espresso from Square Mile, plus an impressive range of craft beers and cider on tap, backed up with Pimms, prosecco, gin & tonic, vodka & tonic and wine by the glass. There’s cake and pastries, plus, if you’re really hungry, hot dogs, including a vegetarian version.

October 2016: Look Mum No Hands! has gone for another year and sadly it looks like that might be it for now…

May 2017: I checked under Hungerford Bridge and there’s no sign of Looks Mum No Hands! this year. There is a bar down there in the spot which Looks Mum No Hands! normally occupies, which suggests, sadly, that it won’t be coming back this year…

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Junction Coffee

The colourful front cover of the menu at Liverpool's Junction CoffeeJunction Coffee is the epitome of a neighbourhood café, serving the good folk of Aigburth, a suburb to the south of Liverpool city centre. Located near a busy junction (from which Junction Coffee gets its name) on the equally busy Aigburth Road, Junction Coffee has been quietly serving speciality coffee to its regulars since 2011 when the owner, Nathan, quit his job with the council to pursue his passion for coffee.

Junction uses Staffordshire’s Has Bean, which roasts a bespoke espresso blend for Junction, while there are usually two single-origin beans available through the Kalita Wave filter for those feeling more adventurous. There’s also hot chocolate, loose-leaf tea and a range of soft drinks.

However, there’s a lot more to Junction than just the coffee. It serves an impressive range of sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, panini, wraps and bagels, plus salads and a soup of the day. Add to that an impressive range of home-made cakes, plus ice cream, and Junction has you covered whatever the time of day.

October 2016: I heard the news that Junction Coffee has closed its doors for good over the summer.

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Mother’s Milk Update

A flat white in a glass from Mother's Milk as seen from above with a simple tulip motif.The original Mother’s Milk was on Little Portland Street, one of a growing number of speciality coffee shops in Fitzrovia, an area once the sole preserve of Aussie legends, Kaffeine. Mother’s Milk joined the likes of Attendant and since opening, Workshop, Curators Coffee Gallery and several others have moved in. But now Mother’s Milk has moved… all the way to Little Portland Street! That’s right, Mother’s Milk has upped sticks and headed east, all the way across Great Portland Street, shifting from No 12 to the far more excitingly-named No 22-23.

Many of the Mother’s Milk hallmarks remain from the original: Will and James are still behind the counter, while the delightful Victoria Arduino lever espresso machine is still on it, the coffee’s still from Munich’s JB Kaffee and it’s still frustratingly hard to find unless you know where it is!

The original Mother’s Milk at least had windows onto the street, but was confusingly called Rosalind’s Kitchen (which is why I walked past three times one my first visit). The new premises are a great improvement, but are in the back of a communications agency called Exposure, the only real clue to Mother’s Milk being the A-board outside.

January 2016: Bad news. Mother’s Milk has announced its closure with immediate effect.

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Silhouette

A flat white, seen from above, with tulip pattern latte art in a white cup on a white saucer.Silhouette joined a growing number of speciality coffee shops and roasters in the Hackney area, opening in February last year. Located just off Mare Street (close to the now-closed and sadly missed Look Mum No Hands!) it’s close to the likes of Climpson and Sons and others at London Fields (with the roastery just around the corner) and Terrone at Netil Market.

Silhouette itself is a delightful little spot, south-facing and on a corner, so it catches the sun, both from the generous windows at the front, as well as from the equally-generous windows along the west-facing side. Inside, the focus is on the coffee, where Silhouette offers both espresso and pour-over (using the Kalita Wave), filling its hoppers with whatever takes the fancy of owners Lee and Syirin (Syirin had just returned from a trip to Berlin, so the shelves held a smattering of bags from the likes of Five Elephant and Concierge (a new one on me).

Silhouette also does loose leaf tea, hot chocolate, cold-pressed juices and smoothies. There’s a menu heavy on toast/bagels, things on toast/bagels and salads. With a nod to Syirin’s Malaysian heritage, Silhouette also runs monthly Malaysian Supper Clubs on a Saturday evening.

October 2016: Some good news and some bad: Lee and Syirin ran a successful Kickstarter to fund a second coffee shop, but in an unexpected twist, the original Silhouette has had to close with immediate effect. It will be sadly missed.

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Jika Jika, Euston Square

A flat white in the sun, seen from directly above, at Jika Jika on Euston Square.Jika Jika started life in Bath about five years ago. It’s recently moved premises there, downsizing to a smaller outlet by the station. About a year ago it also opened a second branch. In London. As you do.

Close enough to Euston station to be worth visiting if you’re en route to catch a train, it’s just around the corner from the northern exit of Euston Square tube station (turn right, away from Euston itself, and ignore the branch of Costa). It’s somewhere I kept going past, thinking, “Is that the same Jika Jika as in Bath?” and “I must go in there one day”. So, eventually, I did. Twice.

There’s not a lot to Jika Jika, which occupies a corner of the Euston Square hotel (which, ironically, also houses the aforementioned Costa). However, it packs a lot in, including decent breakfast and lunch offerings. There’s a solid espresso menu, based around a bespoke espresso blend (plus decaf) from Cornwall’s Origin, using a two-group La Marzocco which dominates the counter at the back of the small space. If you have time to linger, the décor is interesting, including plenty of pictures and amusing coffee-related quotations.

January 2017: Jika Jika is now closed. As far as I know, the branch in Bath has also closed.

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Lanark Coffee (Drink, Shop & Dash Update)

Shot of a tulip cup on a black saucer, taken from above. The coffee is almost gone, but the latte art pattern, a tulip, is still plainly visible in the remainder of the milk in the bottom of the cup.Drink, Shop & Dash was the smaller sibling and speciality coffee outlet of next door neighbour, Drink, Shop & Do on the Caledonian Road. It was part of a growing speciality coffee scene in the area, led by the (now venerable) Caravan and including Noble Espresso and Notes. Just around the corner from King’s Cross station, it was a welcome spot, especially when you needed to take the weight off your feet.

So, I was surprised and more than a little disappointed when Phil Wain reported on twitter that Dash had closed. However, all was not as gloomy as it first appeared. It turned out that the two key people running Dash had, for entirely independent reasons, given their notice within a week of each other. Faced with a sudden recruitment crisis, Drink, Shop & Do had a dilemma. Fortunately, up popped Greg of Haggerston’s Lanark Coffee. Greg knew of the predicament from links with Dash’s roasters Alchemy and a deal was struck.

No sooner had Dash closed, it had reopened, Greg taking over behind the counter at the start of September. Naturally, I had to go along and see what Greg and Lanark had done to the place…

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Box Office Coffee

The sign from the window of Box Office Coffee, Bridport.: the words "Box Office Coffee" in capitals, one word per line. The word "coffee" is in pink.Box Office Coffee, which opened in November 2014, is the second speciality coffee shop in Bridport, one of a number of Dorset towns which are making themselves destinations for coffee lovers. Box Office is the little sister of the famous Number 35 Coffee House & Kitchen, located in nearby Dorchester. Set inside the box office of The Lyric Theatre (have you worked out where the name comes from yet?), Box Office is considerably small than Number 35, but, in coffee at least, every bit its equal, offering the same jaw-dropping array of ever-rotating beans. Indeed, the only constant (other than excellent quality) is the decaf, which comes from London’s Workshop.

Just as at Number 35, there’s a choice of four beans, two on espresso and two on filter (although space limitations means that only the Aeropress is used for filter coffee). The beans are chalked up on boards behind the counter, along with notes giving origin, process, altitude and tasting notes (including with and without milk for the espressos). As at Number 35, the bean’s the king, with no mention of the roaster.

If coffee’s not your thing, there’s loose-leaf tea, hot chocolate and a choice of two different cakes.

April 2016: Extremely sad news. Box Office had to close in March due to circumstance beyond Number 35’s control. A great loss for Bridport, although fortunately Soulshine Cafe remains.

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