If, for whatever reason, you want to know more about me, then you’ve come to the right place. My name is Brian Williams and I’m 54 (someone remind me to come back in a year’s time and change that to 55). I live in Guildford, in the UK, and I have a passion for all things coffee and for coffee shops in particular.
I came to coffee relatively late in life, only developing a taste for real (as opposed to instant) coffee during my time at university. I was in my late twenties before I really acquired a taste for decent coffee and it wasn’t until my first visit to Rome in 2000 that I finally understood what espresso was all about.
Since then, I’ve very much become a coffee devotee (or snob, depending on your perspective). I regularly have three or four types of coffee beans on the go at home; different beans for different times of day and for different ways of making coffee. I also have a variety of specialised coffee-making equipment and including multiple grinders, one for my filter coffee, another for my espresso machine and one (or two) more portable ones for when I’m travelling. I also have too many espresso cups and a whole heap of reusable travel cups, but that’s another story…
However, it’s not all about the coffee itself. If that’s all there was to it, I’d sit at home and perfect the art of espresso-making. I’d never get out of the house and there would be no need for Brian’s Coffee Spot.
Probably for longer than I’ve had my love for coffee, I’ve had a love of cafés, coffee-houses and tea rooms (in my head I can tell you the distinction between each of these but it has so much to do with context that we’d just get bogged down in a pointless discussion; let’s just say I love a good coffee spot). I can definitely trace this back to Bristol and the Boston Tea Party, but it has its roots further back than that. I love to travel and from my late 20s onwards, I travelled extensively in Europe and the eastern USA.
I took to visiting cafés as I went and before long, the visits became an end in themselves. Now, when I travel, I research the places I’m going, looking out the best coffee spots. For me, there is a great pleasure to be gained by sitting in an excellent café and spending an hour or two soaking up the atmosphere while I read, write postcards or, more recently, type away on my laptop.
It’s not just a solitary pleasure, although I can happily spend hours on my own in the right sort of coffee spot. I also enjoy visiting them with friends, putting the world to rights over coffee and cake. And in case anyone thinks that my perfect coffee spot involves a power socket for my laptop, free wifi and comfy chairs, there are plenty of places I go where I don’t linger. There is no single “perfect” coffee spot, just a multitude of great places, all of which will end up in Brian’s Coffee Spot. Eventually…
These days I travel extensively for work, with an amazing job which takes me all around the northern hemisphere. Indeed, I do so much travelling that I have created a special Brian’s Travel Spot series where I write about my travels.
When I’m not travelling and blogging, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that I also write. Indeed, Brian’s Coffee Spot combines three of my great pleasures: coffee, writing and photography (four, if you count travelling, five if you count cake, which frequently crops up). I’ve written all sorts of things in my time, including short stories, (unpublished) novels, a book about coffee (which was actually published), multi-player live roleplaying games and, when it was still around, match reports for the Surrey Heat, a professional basketball team that was based in Guildford (its successor is the Surrey Scorchers, where I provide commentary on games which are broadcast on BBL Player). These days, though, the Coffee Spot takes up most of my time, although I still have to work every now and then to make ends meet.
The photography is a relatively late discovery, although for years I’ve been taking photos of my coffee (and cake), something I picked up from my friend Marc. Indeed, it was my habit of posting pictures of my coffee on social networking sites such as Facebook (and now Twitter and Instagram). that first gave me the idea of starting Brian’s Coffee Spot. For more on how I why I decided to start the Coffee Spot, take a look at this radio interview I did in 2018.