The Electric Coffee Bean Experience

The search for kickass coffee

London Coffee Festival 2013

It’s rapidly coming to that time of year when the London Coffee Festival occurs.

A celebration of all things coffee – specialty and otherwise –  in the heart of Shoreditch, this annual four day festival is becoming a must-do for London coffee lovers.

At the heart of this long weekend lies the UK Barista Champs. The winner will represent the UK at the World Champs, in Melbourne this year. Last year’s UK champ, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood placed sixth in the world.

But this is not just about a competition. This is about trying new coffees and methods to prepare them. Of discovering why a latte is a latte and what makes a flat white flat. This is about copious cups of coffee and platefuls of glorious food to accompany the black gold.  And it’s about catching up with your friends to chat.

So grab your mates and some tickets and get yourselves down to The Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch for April’s London Coffee Festival.

What: The London Coffee Festival

When: 25-28 April, 2013

Where: Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London.

Website: London Coffee Festival

latte art

What I’m doing

Cast your mind back to July (or scroll down the page) and you’ll know I became a part time barista. No more.

Flat white with Latte Art


Somewhere along the way I became a full timer. Hence the lack of action on this blog.

For those interested (which is all of you, of course) you can find me plying my trade at Surbiton’s The Press Room.

La Marzocco FB/80, Mahlkonig grinder, glorious Has Bean beans (initially Jabberwocky but now developing our own blend), 21 glorious teas from Edinburgh’s Eteaket and a delightful wine list.

So that means that I might, on occasion, talk about my place of work. I’ll let others judge its noteworthiness.

I’m also going to refrain from reviewing other Surbiton cafes – and there are a couple of other good ones: Pickled Pantry and Foodie are worth a visit.

Apart from that, it will be business as normal, as and when I can get to new cafes.

I’ll also be reviewing some new kit and writing a bit more about professional knowledge.

Drink the best coffee; return the duds.

The secret to good coffee

There’s lots of discussion as to what to look for as indicators of good coffee in any given cafe.

Latte art is often cited and it’s true that good latte art is one of a few indicators that your barista cares about their craft… and your taste buds. It’s hard to get good latte art from poorly foamed milk.

Coffee with tulip

A flat white with latte art

Yet you could also say that it means the barista just knows how to make good espresso milk.

The presence of good crema is also often mentioned. A well-extracted espresso does create a good crema, it’s true… but have you ever tried tasting the crema by itself? Not the tastiest part of an espresso by a long shot.

I’ve been working in the Specialty Coffee industry for five months now (And a consumer of specialty coffee for at least fifteen years). In those five months I’ve noticed one factor that ties in all my favourite cafes… all my favourite baristas, really.

Just one secret to good coffee…

The baristas taste their own coffee.

They tinker with grinders and water ratios throughout the day, chasing that mythological beast: the perfect coffee.

They don’t just set up in the morning. They stay alert for ambient temperature changes, oil build-up in the portafilters, increase in hourly custom (grinders heat up the more they are used).

They question whether the espresso has become too sour or too bitter and adjust accordingly. They monitor the steamed milk temperature and ensure the steaming wand is purged and cleaned after every use. They constantly clean work areas with dedicated cloths: one for the wand, one for the machine and one for the portafilter – and never cross-contaminate.

But above all, they taste their own creations. They understand the profile of a particular espresso blend or bean and chase it all day.

When was the last time you saw your local barista taste their own coffee?

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