If you’re passionate about quality and taste in food and drink, just the simple act of finding a really great coffee shop can sometimes seem like a real mission when you are in our fabulous capital city that is London town.
I think the irony of this situation would not have been lost on the forerunners of this Blog, like Dr Johnson, who frequented the coffee shops of our city to pick up stories and create news.
It seems that the high streets, squares and piazzas of our fair city have become colonised with the mediocrity of the Costabucks variety. Yet independent coffee shops are fighting back more valiantly than ever before! Introducing even the least discerning coffee drinker into the heady and rather addictive world of bespoke blends!
This in itself is a good enough reason to seek out these little oases in an otherwise barren coffee landscape but some of these establishments also have a great sense of community and the heritage associated with both the coffee shop and the barista that staff them!
Tim Bloxsome, co-founder of The Borough Barista is one of these. I spoke to Tim to ask him what the inspiration was for his hedonistic “house blend”. He told me that it all came down to working out what his customers really wanted in terms of taste and that many took their coffee with milk. The roast is key here, with Tim specifying around 12/13 minutes between first and second crack to achieve a heady dark roast that yields flavours of caramel and chocolate. I have to say that this style really suits their flat white which is a “showstopper”!
I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll want to stop drinking the bland versions of this antipodean classic available from Costabucks and Nero once you’ve been seduced by this exotic beauty!
So here’s the magic formula that makes up the current “house blend”.
And if you’re feeling a little peckish on your visit I can thoroughly recommend the Toasted Ciabtta with Chicken, Advocado, Tomato, and Basil. It’s got great texture and taste and avocado takes on a different flavour when warmed in the panini toaster!
In my interview with Tim, I asked why he thought antipodean independent coffee shops were making such a positive impact in the UK and specifically London. The reasons he believes are three fold: Australia has a rich diaspora of people from native coffee drinking countries like Greece and Italy.
This brings a different kind of heritage to what we have in the UK. With this comes the respect and status of the barista which is seen as much as a career in the food business as the professional waiter in a Parisian restaurant. Finally, in Australia the coffee shop is seen as a melting pot where everyone is equal, a kind of leveller that used to be commonplace in the English pub.
Maybe it’s the combination of these three components combined with an inspired roast that makes this the jewel in the crown of St. James’ coffee shops!