So the plane journey was the first indication that things weren't going to be good. I asked for a coffee and got a grey, watery, scalding concoction which may have been coffee but I'm pretty sure it wasn't. Then we have to be kind to the British. They have never claimed to be coffee drinkers. All their energy, and maybe even their skill, is poured into the perfect cup of tea. God love 'em.
Before I embarked on my first tube journey, complete with suitcases and suffering intense sleep deprivation, I needed a real coffee. At Piccadilly station I noticed a crowd of people hovering around a platform cafe. It was perfectly marketed to a coffee addict, all browns and golds, a gleaming machine and a burrista who looked cool enough to take his coffee making very seriously. And surely, because he if the maker of such fine coffee the people have come, in droves. As I approach though, I notice that the crowds are waiting not for his coffee but for a national train to arrive. His popularity is all about his position. These people are all slaves to the train board. They can't move or their train might come and they will miss that window of opportunity to grab the ideal seat. They will drink his coffee because there is nothing else to do. But I won't. Indeed, the coffee is an immense disappointment.
There are a few more attempts, a funny little Greek man who claimed his coffee would be better than anything I could ever find in Melbourne. Then he gave it to me and asked me my "honest" opinion. I gave him two pounds and said it was fantastic, "thank God you're here" I lied! Sorry to all those who will suffer the consequences of my deceit - but he was such a nice man.
But then, only a minute from home, I found paradise. It had everything, stuffed foxes in the window, a wallpaper forest, WiFi - lots and lots of black. A shady bunch of young folk glued to computers and a coffee maker who sang; so cool he has to heat the coffee slightly more than required. (yeah go on, think about it). The Old Shoreditch Station in the heart of Hackney - they make good coffee. They also make coffee art.
The search continues - coffee blog two
I've not been so dedicated in my search for coffee. In fact I may have given up the search a little too way to easily. Adam on the other hand has been more committed and than I and has consequently been serviced a plethora of bad coffee. The brewed coffee varies in quality but nearly always it is serviced in enormous disposable cups. You see people carrying them everywhere which is probably because they never finish them! A giant coffee simply never tastes good. So really, the only success I have had has been at hotel breakfasts where they tend to service coffees in relatively small cups. But as I say, one hotel will service way better coffee than another - in Montreal the Hotel Du Fort does bad, bad coffee - but the hotel was fantastic otherwise so don't hold that against them.
So Adam sees and espresso machine and because they are so unusual he has a go at ordering a cafe latte. So far I believe he has had no success at all. He has even had the audacity to ask for his cafe latte to be made in a glass - a request that is invariably met with confusion or total refusal - "you can't service coffee in a glass, the glass will break!" Recently he has reviewed his order to an espresso with hot milk on the side and the success rate has definitely improved.
Last night we wandered into little Italy in Boston and past a little cafe where two Italian men sat drinking a deep, golden substance in a glass. Adam and I were glued to the window in awe. But it was five minutes before dinner time and really the idea of drinking even the perfect coffee then didn't really appeal. A few doors down and we were captivated by a shop that claimed to be the oldest Italian cafe in Boston. It was simply beautiful, low ceilings and a hug of Italian paraphernalia, historic photos and ancient coffee making memorabilia filling the shelves and walls. It had a cigar den downstairs, old men who had been drinking coffee since before it was invented. It was low lit, and heavy with the chocolaty heart melting smell of freshly ground, heavenly coffee. Indeed all it served were delicious pastries and espresso coffee - how could we go wrong? Well, we did.
The search begins - coffee blog one
The brewed coffee on the plane from Melbourne wasn't so bad actually and I'm pleased I had it. In Santa Monica we happened upon a coffee palace. It was a veritable shrine to the bean with a range of coffee machines that were as foreign to me as the dark side of Mars. Almost nothing but coffee could be purchased here; so I confidently asked for a double shot cafe latte. Adam, asked for a latte - and I did wonder if he was being just a bit too cocky actually. What he got was a massive cup of warm frothy milk, I got something similar but with an after taste of burnt coffee bean.