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Espresso Joe and the news from the dark side

Accolades this month to Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood of Bath café Colonna & Smalls. Maxwell was crowned UK barista champ for 2012 last weekend at the London Coffee Festival. His win will see him compete against the world’s best in Vienna next month.

The UK has a great record at the world barista champs with two wins in the past ten years. Compare that with Australia’s one win – and nil for New Zealand – and it’s fair to say that England is looking like a great coffee nation once more.

The London Coffee Festival and barista champs were a great success this year with a number of sell-out sessions over the weekend. For those who managed to pick up a copy of The London Coffee Guide (Allegra Publications) at the festival, it makes for some interesting reading. Are Australia and New Zealand’s best coffee people now living in London rather than Down Under? Of the top thirty London coffee houses in The London Coffee Guide, at least thirteen have Antipodean roots. It would be interesting to hear from a New Zealander in the café industry who has been home recently and can contrast London with the Auckland or Wellington café scene.

Ranking systems are always somewhat controversial; personal taste, experience, expectations and other factors contribute to our own understanding of what is “good” coffee and cafes. And to be fair, there are a number of fantastic British coffee houses in London and further afield– the excellent Prufrock on Leather Lane with 2009 World Champ Gwilym Davies at the helm and Notes Music and Coffee (reviewed here) just to mention two.

That said, New Zealand coffee experts punch well above their weight in England’s capital city – at least by The London Coffee Guide’s standards.

And just to shift left slightly, it’s great to see the New Zealand Business Women’s Network have a second season of coffee-related events kicking off this month. More on that here.

Espresso Joe goes legit

It had to happen sooner or later. Turns out it’s now – or more rather tomorrow.

cup of espresso coffee

Tasty espresso from me to you... coming soon

As a consumer of coffee, my street cred goes only so far but tomorrow I begin my transition into a pro.

And not a second too soon. Four cafes today for a 50/50 experience. Liberty of Norton Folgate and Foxcroft and Ginger, both in London’s Shoreditch, were good experiences. Pret (I know, I should know better) and the Pelham Hotel not so good. To be fair, The Pelham wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t good either.

April 17, 2012 may not go down in the annals of history as the day coffee changed 🙂 but it will be my first day in the VRQ City and Guilds Barista Qualification. The three-day course is being facilitated by the London School of Coffee in Norbiton, London.

Of course attending a course and becoming certified… hmmm… doesn’t make one a barista. It takes a) a job and b) time . But it’s a step in the right direction.

So, over the next three days I will try to shed some illumination on how a barista is trained.

Stay tuned!

Espresso Joe has a Stumpy

The following post first appeared in NZNewsUK.co.uk on 12 April 2011

If you’re heading to the good folks at Allpress or nude espresso in Shoreditch sometime before Easter (2011), make sure you take a quick detour to 72 Rivington St for a great cup of coffee.

Callum Hale Thomson has a pop-up café in the front area of the YCN design shop. He’s pouring shots of Square Mile Winter roast coffee through a small La Marzocco GS/3.

For those of you not up with the play, Callum (aka @young_barista on Twitter) came third in the South East division of the UK barista champs earlier this year. Normally this would have granted him automatic entry into the finals. However, as a fifteen year old, he could not progress any further (happily, this won’t be a problem next year).

This is Callum’s first major solo project and if you want to get a glimpse of the future of London’s best coffee, you could do worse than stop in for a cup and a quick chat. His passion and knowledge of coffee is superb and his skills are excellent and only going to get better. My early morning visit coincided with the dialing in of the grinder and the first coffee of the day being poured. The extraction was pretty near spot on. For those of you who can’t make it, Callum is also known to pour the odd shot or three at Vyner St Gallery.

Warning: the coffee menu is small and if it’s not on the menu it’s not available. Conspicuous by its absence is the antipodean staple of a flat white. Here’s a tip for those who need one: ask for a stumpy.

And while you’re working your way through that first espresso or stumpy, take the time to look through the YCN shop. It’s a creative collective well worth spending some time in.

Callum’s pop-up cafe

Open from 9am.

YCN shop: 72 Rivington St, Shoreditch. EC2A 3AY

Closest tube: Old Street of Shoreditch High Street.

Happy espresso

Good app fro good coffee in London

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