Monday, February 22, 2010

Continuing the theme of how small London is, on Saturday, while on my way to Prufrock, Gwylim Davies’ new coffee venture, and, according to Time Out, London’s best place for coffee, I ended up walking down the wrong road. I’d intended to nip in behind Rich Mix and walk past LoungeLover as that would bring me closer to where Prufrock was on Shoreditch High Street, but, didn’t manage it, and ended up one street further down. I guess it was my good fortune then, as that brought me past the UK Barista Championship – South East Heat being conducted at Rich Mix. I continued right on down before I thought better of my decision and walked back to the centre. After all, if the UKBC was on, why would the 2009 World Barista Champion be at his shop? Wasn’t it a far better chance that he’d be here instead?

Now, it’s not that I’m all that fussy about who makes my coffee, but I’d missed Gwylim each and every time I’d been to any one of his stalls – twice at Pitch 42 at Whitecross St Market and another two times at his stall at Columbia Road Flower Market – and I’d be damned if this turned out to be another of those times.

So, in I went. And I ran straight into someone I’d met off CouchSurfing recently. “Hi!” I went, before recalling that he lived quite some distance away. “This isn’t a CouchSurfing event, by any chance?” And, of course, it was. So we chatted for a bit, and he encouraged me to ambush Gwylim who was giving out free flat whites while demonstrating how the Holy Grail of home/small bar machines worked. Needing no further encouragement (I am shameless, after all), I did so, and listened to Gwylim talk at length about coffee. He turned out to be really friendly and passionate in a laid-back kind of way. He spoke on how good coffee should be made (the coffee grounds should be evenly distributed through the rotation of the filter and the ‘faffing about’ at the end only distributes the coffee at the top of the thingamajig) and gave a couple of demonstrations on how to do latte art. He also said that if a barista’s workspace was untidy, then the quality of the coffee was not likely to be good either. Apparently, the machine should be stripped down every forty minutes or so, which is why, in my view, you should never pop into an independent coffee shop if you are in a hurry. Good coffee takes times, after all.

Interestingly enough, Gwylim views coffee as being very similar to wine. That’s why he doesn’t have a favourite when it comes to coffee (though quite a few people kept asking him about Square Mile). Different coffees have different tastes, and it really depends on one’s preferences, as well as the time of day, with some coffees being more suited to the morning, and others to the evening, and so on. He likes Kenya for coffee.

Now, the flat white I had was made from Union’s Rogue Espresso blend, not something Gwylim has tried before. I got the impression he hadn’t used Union before, and wasn’t given as much as information as he likes to have before making coffee (how long ago it was roasted, that sort of thing), but, in spite of that, he still turned out really good coffee. You could probably give him Missile brand coffee from back home and he’d still make it work.

No comments: