Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Green Cauldron Coffee House, Liverpool, UK

I was lucky enough to visit Liverpool for a one day work thing and as is de rigueur for me now I set out to find a good cup of coffee. My wanderings left me a little bit in love with the city but it was only after a good deal of walking that I found my joe. 

The two coffee houses that had been recommended to me I failed to locate but then in my moment of need I stumbled upon the Green Cauldron Coffee Shop. The building was curiously branded as Castle St. Coffee House which I can only assume  was a previous resident and I must say it looked just like the kind of place I required.

The cafe itself was modern, spacious but still inviting and comfortable. I made my order and settled down on a high table and stool. There was then a huge delay.....

.....finally the coffee appeared. They did say sorry but I was pretty miffed by this point, the problem seemed to be that they were under staffed and/or very slow. I had to put this to one side and focus on the job in hand, I didn't want to prejudice the review entirely with this.

The coffee looked good, served in a nice mug, the dark crema swirled seductively around the inside rim. It smelt good too, I gave it a large sniff and enjoyed a strong rich scent. It was robust in flavour yet brought a lovely creamy tone to the party. That gave way to some pleasant bitter sweet after notes which in turn was marred just a touch by a slightly dirty finish. It was all in all a pleasing cup of coffee, I must get some of their beans.

  • Double black Americano, drink in.
  • £1.90
  • Medium strength
  • Solid full flavour 
  • Thick crema
  • Size: Medium size
  • Beans: Green Cauldron (Australia)

This Green Cauldron Coffee cafe is the first and the plan is to open many more across the UK. If one opens near you then go check it out. Great coffee, well made.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Rabot Estate, Borough Market, South London, UK

The Rabot Estate is a cacao grower and chocolatier with a shop and cafe in Borough Market. The estate where the chocolate is grown is all the way over in the West Indies but lucky for us back in the Spring of 2010 they opened this store.

I warn you that the chocolate is pricey but also totally awesome, you can and should treat yourself. The cafe prepare various items including the coffee which we will come to but the number one choice for eating must be the chocolate crepes. I've not yet eaten one but I've seen and smelt these beasts and even writing this is making me salivate. Rabot also prepare little chocolate mousse pots which complement a coffee perfectly if you want something small and sweet.

Their hot chocolate is 70% coco and I think the Mocha comes close to that so be ready for the buzz. The coffee took time to come, they took care over making it but when it arrived it looked the part. It was an oily brew and was giving off a good aroma as I approached with my snout. It had a good full flavour and was smooth throughout. That flavour perhaps crossed the line and was a little overly cheewy at points. Make no mistake it gave you something to taste and to contemplate as you got through it. 

  • Black Americano, double shot, take away
  • £2.00
  • Medium strength
  • Good aroma, powerful 
  • No crema, oily and swirly
  • Size: small (6 ounce)
  • Beans: Monmouth

A very good full coffee and a great option if you are not game for queuing at Monmouth.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Elliot's Cafe, Borough Market, South East London London, UK

I love Elliot's, I could eat here every day till the end of time. This is by far my new favourite place in Borough Market if not all of London. A market "cafe" which really is a full on fancy pants restaurant but completely unpretentious, friendly and very relaxed. They change the menu based on what is available and in season at the Market so every visit is a journey. The food is excellent.

Mismatched and sometimes shared seating gives it a vibey intimacy, enhanced by the bare brick walls and low lighting. The distractingly attractive, knowledgeable staff will pop down next to you to go through the menu in detail so don't be afraid to ask what things are.

I wish I was writing a restaurant review as I could write for a long time and it would be gushing with praise. I've had rare melt in the mouth burgers, slow and perfectly cooked beef, char-grilled squid with a bite, the raw simplicity of oysters, endless mussels with comforting corn and bacon broth, breaded pig cheeks with an emulsified joy waiting inside, a sharp and filling beetroot salad, pate, cheese with fine oatbreads, flavoursome olives and even the complimentary bread and butter is what you would expect to eat on a fine farm house kitchen table. 

All great, every time and the wine has been top notch too however this review is all about one thing and that is the coffee.

The espresso arrived with a good frothy crema layer, underneath it was as dark and oily as the sea near an exploded BP rig. I was highly anticipating this coffee but after taking my first sip I was rocked by the tartness of the coffee, tugging my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I cleansed my mouth and went again, I watered it down but try as I might I could not get along with this shot. 

It was an incredibly sharp and sour coffee. My partner in dine however liked it very much which is why I am being rather more gentle than if I was drinking alone. It looked the part and considering everything else it should have been excellent but alas it was not for me.

  • Double espresso, drink in
  • £2.00
  • Medium strength
  • Sour
  • Good crema
  • Size: Short in a big cup

On another visit the Americano had similar high quality trappings and was less sour but that taste was still there.

A coffee that I didn't get on with. Not awful but too sharp for my tastes. I will go again and again for the food but will skip the joe.

email: info@elliotscafe.com
Blog and menu: http://elliotscafe.tumblr.com/

Even the bread tastes like heaven.

Climpson and Sons, Hackney, East London, UK

The 2nd trip to East London with Rex was to visit Climpson and Sons. The plan on this warm but turbulent day was to buy some take away and then go sit in London Fields, a bit obvious of course but sometimes obvious is nice. 

Broadway market was on and the store was packed. I stayed outside with the little one whilst Rex ventured in and bought the coffee's. The staff didn't know what a babychinno or a bambinochinno was which created some confusion but we got there in the end. She needs her frothed milk or there is hell to pay so Rex did have to go back, twice. He is a great friend.

Sitting on one of the shops benches and watching the chaos of the market go by and ocassioanly nipping to a stall to grab a taster was an enjoyable experience. Poor Rex spent an age inside securring the drinks, it took a long time. Popular as this place is the queue times led me to think they could be a tad more efficient but quality takes time so I can forgive that.

The coffee had cooled a little by the time we sat on the grass, there was no trace of crema but the coffee was rich with oil, shimmering under the sun and wispish clouds above. As the wind picked up and the clouds came in I had an enjoyable coffee experience, although not very strong it was packing plenty of flavour in those 6 ounces. It was smooth, it ended on some sweet notes and without any hint of bitterness. 

I'm sorry to say it went down so well I became slightly absent minded and didn't drill into the flavour as I'm sure there is more to be said.

  • Long Black, double shot, take away
  • Regular size is £2.20 and large is £2.40
  • Medium strength
  • Smooth and flaversome
  • No crema (but late) 
  • size: small (6 ounce)
  • Machine:  La Marzocco
  • Beans: Climpsons and Sons espresso blend

A lovely smooth coffee, I want to go again to give it another taste.

Twitter: @cplimpsonandsons

Flat Cap Coffee Co, stall, Borough Market, South East London, UK

A  couple of coffee stalls have appeared in Borough market, right under the nose of my sacred Monmouth coffee. For such audacity they must be braved and the first one I visited was the Flat Cap Coffee Co stall. Their stall seems to visit a few places and should not be confused with Flat Caps Coffee of Newcastle. The guys who run the company are Brazilian barista champion, Favio Ferreria and his business partner Robert Robinson.

The stall has a nice wooden caravan vibe (like the one in Wind in the Willows) about it and is dominated by a polished La Marzocco. They were selling Square Mile Coffee Beans on the counter and serving the Red brick seasonal espresso. A nice touch were the recommended serving instructions on a little stand that you can take down and follow. 

It was a rainy and pretty grim day; I had already purchased some fine Portuguese custard tarts so this coffee was going to be the finishing touch. I took a small long black (always a double no matter the size, clearly noted on the coffee board). It had a dark thick crema and layer of oil floating on top. 

The initial reaction was that it was overly tart but that sharp citrus tang relaxed and then grew on me and was quite reminiscent of Prufrock (is it the Square Mile beans?) Coffee. A little watery on the front of the palette the coffee packed in plenty of flavour further back and did a good job of filling out my mouth. Those full on flavours eventually resided to leave a sweat after taste. 

  • Long black, double shot to take away
  • £1.80
  • Medium strength
  • Sharp citrus taste, full of flavour
  • Thick dark crema
  • Size: small (6 ounce) 
  • Machine: La Marzocco
  • Beans: Square Miles Red Brick Seasonal Espresso

  • Flatwhite
  • £2.00 - double

A proper stand up coffee served with politeness and a bow, packing plenty of flavour that takes you on a journey.