Go Get Em Tiger, Los Feliz

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A classic cappuccino in a non-classic glass, along with two samples of filter coffee from Go Get Em Tiger on Hollywood Boulevard, LA.That I ended up in Los Angeles in the first place, let alone having coffee at Go Get Em Tiger, is entirely down to Lee of Silhouette, who, while I was discussing my current trip, simply would not believe that I was going to drive past Los Angeles and not call in. So, I decided to change my plans and spend a day in LA, visiting coffee shops and being a tourist (Lee, I loved it!).

Go Get Em Tiger is on Hollywood Boulevard, in the Los Feliz neighbourhood, sharing a space with McConnell’s ice cream parlour, which is on the right, with Go Get Em Tiger on the left. Long and thin, there’s no seating inside, just “standing” down the left-hand side at various broad window-sills. To sit down, you need the raised terrace in front of the shop, which is normally a good option, unless you arrive on one of the (rare) days when it’s been pouring with rain…

Go Get Em Tiger is a multi-roaster, with two options on espresso and two more on bulk-brew. It also has a good range of cakes and an impressive brunch menu (7am to 4pm) cooked in the open-plan kitchen at the back on the right.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: The Grand Adventure, A Day in LA

The famous Hollywood sign on the hills behind Los Angeles, from my first visit to the city in 2017.Welcome to the next instalment of The Grand Adventure, part of a series of Travel Spot posts that detail my trip to America in January/February 2017. The Grand Adventure is the week-long drive I made from Phoenix to San Francisco via the Joshua Tree National Park and Los Angeles, a total of 1,2000 miles.

Part I covered my drive from Phoenix to Joshua Tree, while Part II details the day I spent in the park, followed by an evening drive to Los Angeles. Today’s instalment is all about the day I spent in Los Angeles before I drove up the Californian coast to San Francisco.

The fact that I spent any time at all in Los Angeles was all down to a chance encounter with Lee Gaze, owner of Silhouette, shortly before the trip. I’d originally planned to skip Los Angeles, and just go straight onto my drive along the coast. However, Lee was horrified when I told him, insisting that I had to have at least one day in the city. He was so persuasive that I relented, replanning my trip so that I would spend Monday in Los Angeles before carrying on with my drive.

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Lily London

A lovely flat white, made with a naturally-processed Brazilian single-origin and served in my HuskeeCup at Lily London in Guildford.It’s with unexpected pleasure that I find myself writing about a new coffee shop (although pedants might argue with the use of the word “shop” here) when we’re right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all the problems that 2020 brought to the hospitality industry, speciality coffee has been doing rather well here in Guildford, with several new openings, including the Ceylon House of Coffee.

The subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Lily London, is on a slightly smaller scale, occupying one of two old telephone boxes at the High Street end of Tunsgate, nestling around the back of the grand edifice that is Tunsgate Arch. Serving its own coffee, imported from Brazil by the owner, and roasted by Plot Roasting, Lily London offers a standard espresso-based menu, along with retail bags of the coffee. Unsurprisingly, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: The Grand Adventure, Part II

A stand of Joshua trees in the Joshua Tree National Park in California.Welcome to the next instalment of The Grand Adventure, part of a series of Travel Spot posts covering my trip to America in January/February 2017. The Grand Adventure itself is the week-long drive I took from Phoenix to San Francisco via Joshua Tree National Park and Los Angeles, a total of 1,2000 miles.

In Part I, I left Phoenix, driving via Wickenburg, Arizona, to Joshua Tree, California, where I arrived in time for a short hike in the park at sunset. In this, Part II, I spend a day in the park and then continue my drive to the west, arriving in Los Angeles after nightfall.

The remaining parts of The Grand Adventure detail my day in Los Angeles and the drive up the Californian coast to San Francisco, while the rest of the posts will cover the remainder of the trip, where I flew from San Francisco to Chicago, Miami and Providence before flying home from Boston.

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Chimney Fire Coffee: El Salvador Three Ways

The same coffee, processed three different ways: natural (top), washed (left) and honey processed (right). The coffee is from the Don Tomas Estate in El Salvador and roasted by Chimney Fire Coffee in Surrey.I started 2021 with a new Meet the Roaster, featuring the lovely folk at Chimney Fire Coffee. I ended that post with a promise to tell you more about Chimney Fire’s coffee, and specifically the El Salvador Three Ways, a direct trade coffee from the Don Tomas Estate in El Salvador, where the same coffee has been processed three different ways: natural, washed and honey processed.

This post is mostly about the El Salvador, but I did want to briefly mention the rest of Chimney Fire’s excellent range. There’s the Ranmore signature espresso blend, plus a classic espresso from Peru and a sugar cane decaf from Colombia. Added to that is a selection of around five single-origins which, depending on the coffee, are roasted with espresso or filter in mind, or, if it works for the coffee, an omni-roast which means that it should work equally well as espresso or filter.

Finally, if you want something more challenging, there’s the Discovery Range. This has a different, limited-edition coffee each month, but Chimney Fire won’t tell you where it’s from ahead of time, just providing tasting notes, the idea being that you should focus more on the flavour than the origin!

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The Coffee Spot in 2021

The nose of my British Airways Boeing 787-900 which flew me to San Jose this time last year.This time last year, I was already in San Jose, having flown out there on 3rd January. The year before that, I was in Phoenix, having been upgraded to First Class on my flight out. In 2018, I was getting ready to head to Miami, while in 2017, I was preparing to fly to Phoenix. This year, I’m going nowhere, the first time in five years that I haven’t boarded a plane in January to fly to a warm, sunny part of America. I’m not going to lie: I miss it, although as I sit here writing this with one eye on the news, a large part of me is glad that I’m not in the USA right now.

The reason for my enforced stay at home is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, which abruptly cut short my last trip to America in March 2020. Unfortunately, with infection rates, hospital admissions and, sadly, deaths, all skyrocketing in the UK, the start of 2021 feels much like March 2020. This raises the question of what I should write about in the Coffee Spot. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty minor problem, but it’s one that I’ll address in this post.

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Meet the Roaster: Chimney Fire Coffee

The Chimney Fire Coffee logo, a stylised roaster in black outline with smoke coming from its chimney.Let’s get 2021 underway with a new Meet the Roaster and Chimney Fire Coffee. Started in his garden shed by Dan Webber in 2016, Chimney Fire moved to its current home in Ranmore Manor in the Surrey Hills in the summer of 2017. In theory, I could walk there and back in a day (as I did with Surrey Hills Coffee last May), but laziness/poor planning got the better of me, so I ended up driving over the week before Christmas when I unexpectedly found myself with a car and nowhere to go.

Like many roasters, Chimney Fire had its business model turned on its head by COVID-19, but is thriving despite this, expanding over the summer and recently employing two additional staff. Its Ranmore signature espresso is joined by a various single-origins with a variety of roasts: espresso, filter and onmi.

I’ve been enjoying Chimney Fire’s coffee for several years, often at Canopy Coffee (where it was a regular guest) and at home, with Chimney Fire being one of the first roasters I ordered from at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was therefore with great pleasure that I caught up with Dan and the team just before Christmas.

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Coffee Spot Awards 2020: Winners

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2021 underway, here are the winners of the ninth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2020. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and now we have the winners!

Before we go on, I know I’ve said this before, but a big thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page and looked at my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.

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2020 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

A lovely espresso in a classic white cup, made with the bespoke house-blend at Omotesando Koffee, London.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, the only one that you, my readers, decide. It’s the “Most Popular Coffee Spot” Award, which is based on the total number of views received by each Coffee Spot in 2020.

Last year this was won last year by Omotesando Koffee, London with 806 views. This year’s shortlist features the 10 most viewed Coffee Spots, four of which are from my hometown of Guildford, with two more from Caversham. Only five are what could be described as classic Coffee Spot write ups, with two COVID-19 updates, a Meet the Roaster and two Saturday Supplements (one of which is really about travel).

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2020 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

Detail of the wall art in Kafi, Fitzrovia, showing small white flowers on a plain background.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Kafi. In past year’s, this has been a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

This year’s Award is slightly different in that I’ve narrowed the criteria to be those Coffee Spots whose response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been outstanding in some way.

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2020 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

Details from the coffee menu at Canterbury's Coffee Curiosity.Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2019 by Coffee Curiosity. For me, this is one of the most important awards, and also one of the hardest to judge, which is why I’ve left it to the last day.

It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. Everyone who I’ve covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there, both for the coffee and for those who make it. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.

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