Long & Short Coffee, Walthamstow

Part of the amazing mural on the wall of Long & Short Coffee in Walthamstow, showing a bird's head.Long & Short Coffee was a chance discovery during my Saturday afternoon spent revisiting Walthamstow at the end of last month. A coffee shop/roaster, I knew the name from the original on Brick Lane, but unaware of the second branch in Walthamstow until the staff at Wood St Coffee mentioned it. Even then, I had no idea where it was since, at three weeks old, it wasn’t even on Google Maps (now, thankfully, resolved). However, when I saw it as I passed by on the No. 158 bus, I seized my opportunity.

Long & Short is part of Crate, Saint James Street’s answer to the Box Park, occupying an end unit which is, appropriately, long and thin. There are three two-person tables inside, with Long & Short having access to the communal seating on the terrace at the front of Crate. The offering is pretty simple too, with a house and guest espresso, plus filter options on batch-brew and pour-over, backed up by a selection of tea and a small range of cakes and pastries.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: Flying from Boston with Virgin Atlantic

Mademoiselle Rouge, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300, waiting on the stand at Boston Logan Airport to take me back to London Heathrow.Welcome to the second instalment of my Brian’s Travel Spot covering my trip to/from Boston with Virgin Atlantic. In the first part, I wrote about my flight over from Heathrow, where I was unexpectedly upgraded to Upper Class. This post covers my flight back to Heathrow from Boston Logan, where I travelled in premium economy. I tend to fly either at the front of the plane (business class, when work is paying) or at the back of the plane (economy, when I’m paying), so this was a fairly unusual experience for me.

I also took the daytime flight from Boston to Heathrow, which leaves Boston in the morning and arrives in London in the evening, the perfect flight for someone like me who doesn’t enjoy sleeping on planes. When I first started flying transatlantic in the late 1990s, this used to be my favoured flight, but after 9/11, they largely disappeared from the schedule, only to reappear a few years ago. This was probably the first time I’ve caught this flight or its equivalent in nearly 20 years! With my flight leaving at 08:15, this meant an (unreasonably, for me) early start, although my first problem was getting to the airport…

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Bean & Cole

A lovely flat white, made with the Jailbreak blend from Has Bean, served in a classic cup at Bean & Cole in Chester.Chester’s Bean & Cole has been on my radar since it opened in June 2018, but circumstances have always conspired against me. Until now, that is. Occupying a fairly small ground floor shop in a lovely old building on the semi-pedestrianised Frodsham Street, Bean & Cole is part of Chester’s growing speciality coffee scene, which has seen a flurry of openings in the last couple of years.

Bean & Cole serves Has Bean, with the ubiquitous Jailbreak Blend on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest. There are several filter options, including an Aeropress or V60 for one and a Chemex for two. The guest espresso and filter options are drawn from a wide variety of roasters and change every few weeks. There’s also a small selection of loose-leaf tea, a concise brunch menu with the likes of granola and various things on toast, plus a small range of cakes.

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Speciality Coffee at Lord’s, 2019

Watching espresso extract for a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine in the Browns of Brockley mobile coffee van at Lord's cricket ground.Over the seven years I’ve been writing the Coffee Spot, I’ve seen speciality coffee spread from a handful of city centres to all sorts of interesting places. One of the most exciting is seeing speciality coffee appearing at major sporting events, in particular, at Lord’s, the home of cricket, where I’ve been going each summer for over 20 years.

It all started in 2011 when Kaffeine were asked to make coffee in the Harris Gardens behind the pavilion. It’s been slow going since that promising start, but last year, I noticed a change. Suddenly there were numerous speciality coffee outlets around the ground, with the likes of  Browns of Brockley and the Ground Coffee Society leading the way. There was even an in-house coffee shop, Portman’s Café, serving Union Hand-roasted!

This year I managed to get tickets for the first ever England vs Ireland Test Match, which took place two weeks ago (although sadly I’ve missed out on tickets for the Ashes Test next weekend, unless anyone has got any spares…). So I popped along to watch some cricket (England won, rather famously) and also brought my HuskeeCup, Therma Cup and Kaffeeform cup, to see what coffee I could find.

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Coffee Addict

Coffee Addict on Vauxhall Bridge Road, occupying the site of the original Costa Coffee, which opened in 1978 (Coffee Addict, in contrast, opened in 2019)Once upon a time, there wasn’t much good coffee around Victoria station, particularly in the stretch between it and Westminster, where the Flat Cap Coffee Barrow stood alone for many years. Then came the likes of Iris & June and Rag & Bone Coffee and things started looking up. More recently, the Nova development brought Timmy Green, Crosstown Doughnuts and Notes. And now, if that wasn’t enough, there’s another crop of newcomers right next to the station itself, including Press Coffee, Hermanos and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Coffee Addict.

There’s not a great deal to Coffee Addict, with just enough room for a couple of tables outside and not much more inside. The main draw is the coffee, from old friends The Roasting Party, the Drake blend on espresso, backed up by batch brew and a small but tempting breakfast/sandwich menu, plus copious amounts of cakes and pastries.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: Flying to Boston with Virgin Atlantic

My ride to Boston from London Heathrow's Terminal 3: Miss England, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300.Welcome to another instalment of my occasional Brian’s Travel Spot series. These weren’t so occasional last year, when there I managed 16 in all, but in 2019, I’ve concentrated on writing up coffee festivals, such as this year’s London Coffee Festival and Birmingham Coffee Festival, which, between them, have generated 10 posts and counting! It seems to be a case of writing up festivals or writing Travel Spots: clearly, I don’t have the time to do both!

In a year packed with business travel, mostly flying with British Airways, today’s Travel Spot marks something of a departure from the ordinary, prompting me to write about it. Firstly, I’m not flying for work. Instead, I’m making the (for me) relatively short hop from London to Boston to see Amanda, which means that I’m paying for this one. Secondly, although I’d planned to fly with British Airways, I’ve ended up flying with Virgin Atlantic for the first time in three years, which made for an interesting change.

This Travel Spot covers my flight out, with a separate Travel Spot for the return flight a couple of week later. My first challenge, of course, was getting to the airport…

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Birmingham Coffee Festival 2019: Part III

The Birmingham Coffee Festival logoWelcome to the third of my detailed write ups of the third annual Birmingham Coffee Festival. As usual, I got things underway with my traditional festival round-up, before moving onto the detailed write-ups, with each one focusing on a different subject. The first was the Meet the Roasters feature, where I caught up with all the roasters. This was followed by one on all the excellent food I found at the festival, and was entitled Food, Glorious Food. Today’s feature is an eclectic mix of subjects, so after wracking my brains for hours, I’ve come up with the snappy title of Part III.

Today’s post looks at sustainability, where the Birmingham Coffee Festival is making great strides. Speciality, I’ll talk about First Mile and Mawley Milk, two very different companies, but both doing their bit for sustainability. Following that, the focus shifts to coffee equipment and an interesting new grinder that you won’t be finding in my kitchen any time soon, but you may start it seeing it in some UK coffee shops. I also cast my eye over some lovely pottery from Speckled Grey. And finally, I’ll end on a very un-Coffee-Spot-like note with a look at some tea!

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Espressino

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Espressino, the latest addition to the Doctor Espresso stable.Regular readers know of my soft spot for Doctor Espresso Caffetteria, which opened in 2013 opposite Fulham’s Putney Bridge station. Espressino is the fourth in the Doctor Espresso Stable, joining Doctor Espresso – Mama V’s in Clapham High Street (2014) and Doctor Espresso N3, five minutes’ walk from the original on Fulham High Street (2016). Regular readers may also recognise Espressino’s location, since it’s the successor to The Black Chapel, Doctor Espresso having bought the business from previous owner, the legendary Ant.

Although the space is essentially the same, with a tiny exterior and seating outside on Chapel Yard, in many ways, everything’s changed, including the famous lever espresso machine, replaced (for now) by a La Marzocco FB80. While The Black Chapel served single-origins from various guests on espresso and filter, Espressino uses Doctor Espresso’s traditional Italian blend (espresso only), backed up with Joe’s Tea, fresh smoothies and a small breakfast/lunch menu.

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Crush the Rush

The trophy for the first ever UK Crush the Rush competition, held at Out of the Box in Tonbridge, 2019.Regular readers may well be aware of my dislike of barista competitions. Now, I will say at the outset that this dislike only really extends to my watching them: events such as the Barista Championships and Brewers Cup are vital, helping both the careers of those who have competed and the wider industry in terms of spreading knowledge and innovation. I value them immensely and have, in the past, supported initiatives such as the Beyond the Bean Barista Bursary. I just don’t enjoy watching them.

Until last weekend, there was one exception to this: the Cup Tasters Competition. Then I went to La Marzocco’s Out of the Box event at Tonbridge, which not only redefined my conception of what a coffee event could be, it introduced me to Crush the Rush, a new barista competition from La Marzocco. This first saw the light of day in the USA last year, but as far as I know, this was the first time it’s been seen on this side of the Atlantic. It’s a pretty simple concept: two teams race each other to produce eight different espresso-based drinks, testing their barista skills on a busy bar. But is it interesting to watch?

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Out of the Box, Tonbridge

A flat white, made with the The Roasting Party's Elixir 22 blend and served in my Huskee Cup at Out of the Box in Tonbridge.This time last week I headed off to Tonbridge, to attend La Marzocco’s Out of the Box event. I’ve been to a few of these before, but I’ve very much seen them as industry events, a party thrown by coffee people (at La Marzocco) for coffee people, the attendees being baristas, roasters, the odd coffee blogger and occasional coffee enthusiasts not in the industry. As such, it never occurred to me to write about them. Last Saturday, all that changed.

Out of the Box was held in Tonbridge Castle, a move which had plenty of us scratching our heads ahead of time (previous ones have always been indoors) and not knowing what to expect (although if I’d read the description, I might have known better!). What’s more, although not widely advertised beyond the industry, it was open to the public, so drew a very different crowd.

The result was a surprising and wonderful mini-coffee festival, including a new barista competition, Crush the Rush. Indeed, if you’ve never been to a coffee festival and were wondering what one was like, you could do worse than go to the next Out of the Box; it’s free and will give you a good feel for one. But what was it like?

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