Little Nap Coffee Roasters

Detail from the sign on the wall: Little Nap Coffee RoastersI discovered Little Nap, the Tokyo-based coffee shop/roaster chain (of precisely two locations) when I visited the original, Little Nap Coffee Stand, in the summer of 2018. During that trip I also popped over to the second location, Little Nap Coffee Roasters, a short, 10-minute walk to the southwest. However, for various reasons, I never managed to write it up, so last week, on my most recent trip, I returned to check that nothing had changed.

Little Nap occupies a narrow, three-storey, standalone building on the south side of the busy highway which runs through the southern end of Yoyogi Park to the east. Downstairs, at the front, is a compact coffee shop, while at the back is an equally compact roastery. The first floor is home to the Little Nap Record Shop and, during my visit in 2018, hosted a pop-up kitchen, while the top floor is a gallery with rotating displays.

Little Nap serves a house-blend from a concise, espresso-based menu, with four seasonal single-origins on pour-over (hot or cold), with all the coffee available to buy in retail bags. There’s also a small range of sandwiches and hot dogs, plus a selection of cakes if you’re hungry.

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Breather Coffee

The Breather Coffee logo from the curbside sign outside the shop in Zushi, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan.Breather Coffee, in Zushi in Kanagawa prefecture, was a recommendation from Dark Arts Coffee in nearby Hayama, who I visited while on my way to Tokyo during my recent trip to Japan in August/September this year. Occupying a small spot right in the centre of town, Breather Coffee is a five-minute walk from the station, making it an easy option if you’re reliant on public transport.

Run by a lovely, friendly Japanese couple, Kohei and Mizuho, Breather Coffee uses Melbourne roasters, Maker Coffee, a legacy of the five years that Kohei and Mizuho spent in Melbourne (which also accounts for their excellent English). You’ll find the Smith Blend on espresso, where it’s joined by a single-origin option, plus another on pour-over through the V60. The single-origins change on a weekly basis and are also available in retail bags. If you’re hungry, there are western-style cakes and a couple of toasties.

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Kiss the Hippo, Fitzrovia

A gorgeous single-origin Ethiopian espresso, roasted in-house, and served in a classic white cup at Kiss the Hippo, Fitzrovia.Fitzrovia, that small slice of central London between Oxford Street and Euston Road, has more than its fair share of excellent coffee shops. For many years, one of my favourites was Curators Coffee Gallery on Margaret Street, and I was saddened to learn of its closure earlier this year. However, my sadness wasn’t too long-lasting, since wandering around in July, I spotted a welcome sign in the vacant window: Kiss the Hippo.

For those that don’t know, Kiss the Hippo is a coffee shop/roaster with an improbable name and eye-catching logo. It began last year in Richmond, where you’ll find its flagship café, roastery and training centre, all rolled into one, with the Fitzrovia branch, which opened exactly one month ago, being its second location.

Spread over a spacious ground floor and a bright basement, anyone who visited Curators will instantly recognise the layout, although the décor is markedly different. The coffee, all roasted in-house in Richmond, is seasonal, with the George Street house-blend joined by a single-origin and decaf on espresso, with two more on pour-over, plus a batch-brew option. If you’re hungry, there’s brunch until 2 pm (3 pm at weekends), plus cake and toasties throughout the day.

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Brother Hubbard North

A latte art heart in my cortado, made with the Farmhand house-blend, at Brother Hubbard North in Dublin.I visited Brother Hubbard on my first trip to Dublin in 2014. Back then, it was a relatively small place, with a reputation for excellent food as well as really good coffee. So good, in fact, that after going there for breakfast, I returned for coffee later in the trip. 5½ years on, Brother Hubbard has added a second branch (Brother Hubbard South) while the original, reborn as Brother Hubbard North, has changed beyond (almost) all recognition. It’s now a takeaway joint, coffee shop, retailer and restaurant, with an on-site roastery, Farmhand, thrown in for good measure.

Normally, this would be a Coffee Spot Update, but with all the changes, I’ve gone for a complete re-write, leaving the original as is. These days Brother Hubbard serves a bespoke house-blend from in-house roaster, Farmhand, along with a single-origin on batch brew. There are grab-and-go goodies from the takeaway counter to the left, or you can sit in and enjoy breakfast, brunch or cake with your coffee. Finally, in the evenings, there’s a small but innovative dinner menu five nights a week. The space, by the way, is huge, with a long, thin indoor seating area, outdoor terrace and magnificent dining room.

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Shoe Lane Coffee, Tara Street

A lovely single-origin Brazilian espresso from Full Circle Roasters, served in a glass at Shoe Lane Coffee, Dublin.A relative newcomer in Dublin’s rich and growing speciality coffee scene, Shoe Lane Coffee only opened in 2016, joined in 2018 by a second branch just down the coast at Dun Laoghaire. On Tara Street, once home to Dublin’s cobblers when it was known as Shoe Lane (hence the name), the coffee shop’s right in the heart of the city, a block from the River Liffey’s southern bank and across the street from Tara Street Station.

The shop is lovely, spread out over two floors. The spacious downstairs has the counter at the back, home (since September) of Dublin’s only La Marzocco KB90 (a source of much envy amongst Dublin’s barista community, several of whom recommended Shoe Lane Coffee to me). Meanwhile, via a switch-back staircase at the back, the upper floor is dominated by a large, communal table with a window-bar overlooking the street below.

Shoe Lane Coffee only serves single-origins from the local Full Circle Roasters. There’s a single option on espresso, two on pour-over and one more on batch-brew, all changing on a seasonal basis and all available to buy in retail bags. If you’re hungry, there’s a decent selection of cakes and savouries to choose from.

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Coffeeangel TCD

A V60 of a Gakui AA Kenyan single-origin served in a carafe, with the cup on one side, presented on a wooden tray at Coffeeangel TCD.Last weekend’s return to Dublin was marked by a combination of new places (such as yesterday’s Coffee Spot, First Draft Coffee & Wine) and new locations of old favourites (such as 3FE Sussex Terrace). Today’s Coffee Spot sees me back in Coffeeangel, whose HQ branch was a big hit with me when I was last in Dublin. This time it’s the turn of Coffeeangel TCD (which stands for Trinity College Dublin), on Leinster Street, which runs along the southern edge of Trinity College’s city-centre campus.

Coffeeangel, which began with a pair of coffee carts, is one of the veterans of Dublin’s speciality coffee scene. These days the coffee carts are no more, Coffeeangel having moved into bricks and mortar, now with five city-centre stores. TCD is a relatively compact affair, with outside seating, a counter at the front and a cosy seating area at the back. All the coffee is roasted exclusively for Coffeeangel by Bailies in Belfast. There’s a house-blend on espresso, served via a concise menu, joined by two single-origins, available on espresso or pour-over, the latter using a V60 on the Marco Beverage Systems SP9. If you’re hungry, there’s a wide selection of cake and sandwiches.

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Three Fools Coffee

An Americano extracting into a cup of hot water at Three Fools Coffee in CorkThree Fools Coffee on Cork’s Grand Parade was the second of my three stops on Monday’s whirlwind speciality coffee tour. As with my other two stops (Dukes and Filter), it was a recommendation from local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe.

Over the years, I’ve described quite a few places as coffee cubes, starting with Manchester’s original espresso cube (aka the sadly missed Forté Espresso Bar). In concept, Three Fools is the closest to an actual cube, despite not being cube-shaped (it needs to be twice as high and maybe 50% wider). However, it feels like a cube, with its timber-framed windows on three sides and a slightly incongruous concrete floor and ceiling.

At first sight, you might think that Three Fools would be a takeaway joint, or a mainstream coffee bar (Cork has plenty of these, by the way). Stepping inside dispels those notions instantly: this is a no-holds-barred, full-service third-wave coffee shop. There are two single-origins on espresso, roasted in-house, with a house or guest single-origin on filter, with a choice of batch brew, cafetiere (for one or two), V60 or Chemex (for two). If you’re hungry, there’s a choice of three sandwiches and three toasties, plus a selection of cake.

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Dukes Coffee Company, Carey’s Lane

A carafe of the natural Ethiopian batch brew from Stone Valley Roaster, served at Dukes Coffee Company in Cork.As part of my current trip to Ireland, I spent yesterday in Cork, exploring its excellent coffee scene. Of course, a day was wholly inadequate for the task, with local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe, giving me a list of ten places to try! I managed a paltry three, starting with breakfast at Dukes Coffee Company. There are two branches of Dukes, the original city-centre location on Carey’s Lane (where I ended up), and a second east of the centre in City Gate.

Dukes serves coffee exclusively from Irish roasters, with a bespoke, seasonal house-blend, Three Lands from Bewley’s. This is joined by guest single-origins on espresso and batch brew. The current single-origin espresso is the San Cayetano from El Salvador, roasted by Dublin’s 3FE, while the batch brew is a naturally-processed Ethiopian, roasted by Stone Valley Roasters from Clonakilty in County Cork. However, don’t wait too long to try them, since they change every two weeks or so, with the next espresso, from nearby Badger & Dodo in Fermoy, lined up and ready to go!

All this is backed up by a selection of sandwiches and cakes, plus excellent breakfast and lunch menus, served until one o’clock (two o’clock at weekends).

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Café Névé, Rachel

A lovely cortado, in a glass, made with the house-blend at Café Névé on Rue Rachel in Montréal.Monday’s Coffee Spot is a flashback to exactly one year ago today, when, on my first weekend in Montréal, first stop on my around-the-world trip, I had breakfast at Café Névé on Rue Rachel, just around the corner from my apartment. I would go on to visit a further six times, four for morning coffee on my way to the office, and twice more for breakfast.

This is the original Café Névé which, having opened in 2009, was around during my first visit to Montréal in 2012. Back then there were just two Café Névés (the second on Avenue Mont-Royal), but since then it’s added a third, with the opening of a shared space in the Mile End district of Montréal inside the Frank and Oak menswear boutique.

It’s hugely popular and busy, a real neighbourhood favourite, open from breakfast in the morning until nine at night, seven days a week. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, with a bespoke house-blend, roasted by Anchored Coffee, with a batch brew option from Anchored or Zab Cafe, a local roaster with connections to Café Névé. There’s also a choice of eight teas, four smoothies, and, if you’re hungry, cakes, sandwiches and an excellent brunch menu.

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Press Coffee, Victoria Market Hall

A lovely Brazilian single-origin espresso, served in a classic cup at Press Coffee in Victoria Hall Market, London.Press Coffee began life as The Fleet Street Press in 2013, although I didn’t visit until 2014. Since then, it has started roasting its own coffee, as well as steadily expanding, first in the neighbourhood around the Inns of Court, then moving further west. It currently has six outlets, including the subject of today’s Saturday Short, its coffee counter in Victoria Market Hall, just opposite Victoria Station, an area now packed with good coffee, although it wasn’t always that way.

Press Coffee is at the far end of the ground floor, although you’re welcome to take your coffee anywhere within the building, including the roof-top terrace. There’s a seasonal single-origin on espresso and another on batch brew, plus tea and a small range of cakes and toasted sandwiches. That said, you do have all 11 of the market’s kitchens at your disposal, plus three bars, so you won’t go hungry!

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