I had a most splendid day on Sunday. Met up with Stephen Morrissey, the barista trainer from Bewleyâ€™s in Dublin. I met him before in Athens and Seattle. Had a wander round central London, looking for espresso and chatting about coffee. It was really good to chat to someone knowledgeable and extremely interested coffee. As for the coffee we found:
Carluccioâ€™s, Neal Street: Mussetti coffee put through old Gaggia machines. Not particularly awful espresso, though a bit too bitter for my tastes. Had to order ristrettos in order to get a fluid ounce shot.
Bar Italia, Frith Street: For so long this place had the reputation for espresso. 4 group lever Gaggia, open 24 hours, and whilst I saw them pour some nice milk I couldnâ€™t believe the espresso they served (especially considering the cost of them – Â£2 per shot is criminal!) I am really quite cross with myself for not taking it back. It was just dire â€“ the faint whisp of crema almost gone before the cup hit the saucer. Embarrassingly bad.
Apostrophe, St. Christopherâ€™s Place: This place really surprised me. Itâ€™s a chain, which should of course exclude it from the ranks of decent coffee. Using Bristot by the look of the crockery. The barista had a curious packing technique, and whilst semi-automatics are great if you know what you are doing they still allow even the most passionate barista to run a shot to nearly two fluid ounces in the bottom of my small cappuccino. But the pour speed was good, the milk was good, the drink a nice small size. Best coffee of the day.
Sadly as it was Sunday and a few places I wanted to visit were closed, but had a wander round a couple of places selling domestic stuff to have a quick look at home grinders and the like. It was a good day.
In other news I am back to the reading again (I have something of a backlog of books at the moment) as I have a trip to La Spaziale in Bologna coming up in just over a week and I am sure I will be getting a few tricky questions from the folks we are taking there and we hate the idea of being unable to answer one.