Let me be very clear. We have great coffee in Adelaide. It is strong. It is real. It is Italian. It was a very large wave of Mediterranean immigrants that changed our coffee and food scene forever. Now we do coffee daily, sitting in cafes, on streets, chatting, reading, having breakfast. Or lunch. We drink it walking to our next destination, driving in our cars, talking on the telephone.
Coffee is important.
In 2008, it is so hard to find a good coffee in London. People tell you, “yeah, there is this place in Soho, run by New Zealanders. They are almost Australian, right? They make good coffee.” So you track it down, and it is tiny and you have to wait half an hour and then the coffee is weak and pale and over milky. It is Ok, and by London standards, probably spectacular. But, well, not worth travelling the length of London for.
There are many cute little cafes, pink chairs, flowers on the tables and all, but coffee without substance. French shops where you might expect the coffee to be outstanding. But isn’t. Intriguing little providors who care about their food. But not their coffee.
Even coffee roasters.
And coffee shops that believe they are the best. But, er, well, still not to my tastes.
I found 2 places that satisfied my taste. My daughter tells me there is a third.
The first is in Islington, a great little restaurant/cafe that sells breads and wonderful cakes in their front section. Ottolenghi. Mediterranean style food. I would go for their coffee alone, and one day complimented them on it. I was told the barrista was Australian.
The second place was Monmouth. There is one in the Covent Gardens, a cute, tiny establishment where you can choose not only the style of the coffee but the type of coffee. Now that I like. Brazillian anyone? Their Brazillian coffees are the best.
There is also a Monmouth near Borough Markets, with more seating and food, and similarly excellent coffee. A blackboard shows the date of each roast AND THE ROASTER. That is commitment to coffee.
These guys love their coffee so much they travel the world meeting with their growers, and in their shops you can read stories about each grower. Fabulous.
My daughter has discovered a third. A French cafe in Highbury. More details as they come to hand. It is Le Peche Mignon. She says it has the best coffee in London with the best almond croissants on the weekend. It is a tiny tiny place -so please, leave her a seat and a newspaper to read.
In a country of tea drinkers, it is not surprising to that good coffee is so rare. But it was hard work to travel to the other side of London for a shot of coffee.