When I first lived in London I worked in the music industry for legendary concert promoter, Harvey Goldsmith. I was in my early 20s and it was THE job to have! We got to go to all the gigs… and, as this was the Brit-pop era, that was pretty cool. The downside of this active social life meant that we were forever struggling with self-inflicted exhaustion – and sometimes a ‘cuppa tea’ just didn’t quite hit the spot.
In those days, coffee in London was awful; instant coffee was pretty much as good as it got. Things started looking up one day however, when a café opened around the corner from the office where they made the best cappuccinos! Finally, coffee worth crawling out from under the desk for.
Not long after, I moved away from the UK for twenty-ish years. During this time, I married a Canadian and subsequently moved to Canada, where coffee is just a fact of life (although there are still too many Starbucks for my liking!)
Coffee is just a fact of life
Becoming a coffee addict, I fell in love with Intelligentsia beans from Chicago (thought of as one of the pioneers of the Third Wave Coffee trend – engaging in direct trade sourcing and focusing on roasting rather than operating). When we moved to Paris (yes, I have moved about a lot), I would get our North American visitors to bring over Intelligentsia beans (the Paris scene being terrible at the time).
About five years ago, we came full circle and moved back to London. Thankfully, during my time away, the London cafe scene has transformed itself.
Many say that the Third Wave Coffee scene here is attributable to us Kiwis (and Aussies). I like to think that is the case… although Monmouth Coffee Company is neither, and the never-ending queues outside their stores are testament to the quality and taste of their beans.
But sticking with “Kiwis do it best”, Allpress Espresso is a New Zealand company and is considered one of, if not, the best Down Under… and they are here in London, along with many other places throughout the world (see box below).
The guys at Allpress are serious about their coffee – right down to regularly flying off around the world to meet with the individual farmers who supply their beans. Sounds exotic, but according to co-owner, Tony Papas, it can be “rugged travelling just by the very nature of where coffee grows”. Their high-quality demands mean that most of their coffee is organic by default but they stay away from schemes labelled as such because this is a huge cost to the farmer.
At a Glance
- Our favourite blend: Redchurch Espresso blend – their original blend. UPDATE: Allpress has recently gone through a rebranding so now all their coffees are the same worldwide, making it super-easy to find your favourite anywhere Allpress Coffee is served. Therefore, Redchurch Espresso Blend is now known as Allpress Espresso Blend. It’s still our go-to coffee!
- Texture: smooth and velvety with oodles of crema
- Strength: all importantly strong enough to stand up to the natural sweetness of milk
- Taste: caramel and chocolate notes, with a hint of citrus
- Where in the world can you get an Allpress fix: roasteries are located in New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan and Singapore. However, they work with over 1000 independent cafes worldwide – use their nifty cafe finder tool to find one near you.