Like any savvy Londoner, the instant I see sunshine I hit the streets. Because you just don’t know when you will see that sun again! Yesterday was glorious. Glorious! Armed with a treasure map, my friend and I went out seeking the perfect coffee shop. We ambled over Tower Bridge into Shoreditch, snaking our way through tourists, sucking in every atom of sunshine and dazzling London-ness we could suck.
Shoreditch loves to surprise you. Rows and rows of respectable Victorian buildings line the alley, the narrow street curves, and then SMACK! there’s a cartoon acid trip or scrabble board painted onto an otherwise reasonable brick wall.
Somehow we ended up on Brick Lane (do all roads lead to Brick Lane?), found Redchurch St., and THERE, behold! Allpress Espresso. It’s across from The Painted Lady salon and a gigantic graffiti squirrel, but it doesn’t look hipster. In fact, its storefront is kind of boring. The music is chill (acoustic guitary, but not, like, peppered with industrial sounds or whiney folk political rants) and the décor is simple and pleasing. We slid onto a wooden bench, and sipped very decent lattes. The sandwiches were toasty and salty, with cool things in them. Success!
O London! You gave us not one, but TWO beautiful weekend days! We forgive you for the past 5 weeks of unholy cold and rain! We forgive you!!
(Better get off the internet and back outside, before you change your mind.)
Once you set foot inside the densely-packed warehouse off of Brick Lane in Shoreditch, something in you snaps. The self-awareness courses through your veins like a shot of fair-trade, Ethiopian espresso (with citrus notes.) You’re at The London Coffee Festival, and it’s offiical.
You are a coffee snob. (And dangerously close to hipster.)
That’s right, I went to The London Coffee Festival with a couple of like-minded friends. We waited in the cold, splattering rain in a queue that wrapped around the warehouse for 20 minutes just to get in. You can judge all you want, judgey McJudgerson, but it was freaking awesome. Booth after booth of coffee samples, carefully prepared from shiny espresso machines. Barrista contests! Not one, not two, but THREE espresso martini bars. Places to lounge and sip your excessively delicious sustainably-sourced fifth shot of espresso in bean bag chairs, the live acoustic guitar music mellowing out your electric caffeine high to a pleasant buzz.
My lactose-intolerant friend found a new soya product especially made to froth in her espresso machine. I almost bought a reusable coffee cup designed to look like a disposable coffee cup. Is this madness? Or genius? I don’t care! I want it! We stopped at a booth and waited for 10 minutes for this guy to magic us some coffee I couldn’t pronounce. We wanted to see what ‘gamey’ coffee tasted like. Give me 100g of that, that stuff I can’t pronounce!! It does taste ‘gamey’! I believe you! I can taste the ‘hint of apple’, I swear!
Are we coffee snobs? Yes. But self aware snobs. And that makes us better than other snobs.
Yes, yes it is. A giant roach with a baseball cap. O, Shoreditch! You amuse and alarm me.