Wait, didn’t you get the memo? I’ve come back. I mean, it took a bit longer than usual: what was only meant to be a short hiatus turned into an entire year.
There’s some great coffee blogs floating around nowadays, and I have no doubt that these were brilliant enough to keep you company in my absence. They sure were great fun to read in my mentally fuzzy days - so thank you, you bunch!
Turns out I needed to take an entire year off to feel comfortable writing again, but no one really needs to know those details (unless you’ve got me sat down in a swanky bar with an open tab for espresso martinis, then I’m pretty certain i’d spill the beans). Basically I worked too hard, burned myself out, and had a few problems I had to sort out.
So why reappear in any other way than in true comeback fashion...by celebrating everyone else’s achievements in the year that I hid away?
With no more excuses to put this not-so-little post off (she says as she looks at the calendar to find it’s already February), here are my faves of last year.
Favourite Coffee Shop
Start as we mean to go on, am I right? And by that, I totally mean the fact that I’m so indecisive I couldn’t even narrow this down to one specific place. Heck, I visit a variety of shops on a daily basis; how can you expect me to narrow all of those down??
The first is the ever so wonderful Surbeanton. As the name suggests, this little gem is located in Surbiton - a small town located on the London-Surrey divide. I’d been living in this area for most of my London life, and I find it hilarious that the moment I decide to move away a little gem like this pops up. With an ever-rotating supply of filters (four origin choices? Yes please), and a salivation-station menu, I can easily spend hours in this place. The tables are set out in a way which maximises the tiny space, so you can whip out your laptop and not feel like a burden (shout out to that social anxiety).
The guys and girls behind the bar are absolute gems, and it's run by a top chap. In a place as gloomy as Surbiton, this little addition was met with an incredibly warm welcome. Only downside is that it’s always busy, but you can’t really blame the citizens of Surbiton in having good taste.
The second is the equally as wonderful Carbon Kopi, not too far from Hammersmith/Barons Court. This place always feels like a hidden gem you’ve stumbled upon in the depths of Hammersmith (think Narnia without the snow and trees, although there’s plenty of wardrobes dumped on the streets so I guess it’s not too different). After a 15 minute walk from any direction, Carbon Kopi is a welcome site.
A bit like Surbeanton, CK has a constant rotation of beans. Not-so-spoiler alert: I really enjoy this in a coffee shop.
Also the space is a beaut, and as someone who feels the need to take photos wherever she goes, this place is a dream and a half. I’ve also been exploring my home-coffee selection more recently, and Carbon Kopi’s ever-growing retail shelf makes my bank account quake with nerves. Their team are absolute gems and a half, which really should not be overlooked. Seriously, need cheering up? Head on over to Carbon Kopi; they’ll sort you out. CK only opened in the latter half of 2019, so I’m excited to see where they’ll go from here.
Favourite Coffee Roaster
I’ve had the absolute pleasure of sampling some wonderful coffees this past year, although I have to admit I’ve not been the most adventurous in what I’ve tasted. However, saying that, there’s been one roaster out there who has blown me away on countless
occasions this year, and that’s Plot Coffee.
It was only fitting to pop this underneath my write-up on Carbon Kopi, as this is where I’ve really gotten to know the variety of glorious coffee Plot is currently supplying. It’s always great to see a newbie pop up on the coffee scene and offer some absolute wonders to rival the big guys of the industry.
I was lucky enough to visit the Roastery back when they were first setting up and can say that it would be incredibly difficult to find a lovelier team behind the company. I drank my weight in coffee whilst I was there, and the passion they all had towards the product was inspiring. I'm really excited to see what they bring to the table this year.
I’ve never been so excited to talk about a blogger before. I would shout from the rooftops in regards to my love towards this girl - not to mention she’s an exceptional coffee professional and makes a killer flat white. She puts up with me at coffee festivals across the world and continuously inspires me with her write-ups.
Haven’t guessed who it is yet? Holy smokes, it’s Jass Goodman aka the Coffee Life!
(Of course it is)
I first got to know Jass through some mutual friends and am forever thankful that we crossed paths. On several coffee escapades last year I was lucky enough to attend with her, and I’m hoping this will be the same for years to come. So as much as I encourage you to reach out to her and strike up some wonderfully caffeinated conversations with her, do not take her away from me(!)
Her coffee skills are insane, like really insane, and her knowledge rivals some of the best in the biz. She’s not one to shout about herself, so here I am doing it for her because she sure as heck deserves the recognition.
This past year saw a decent amount of development of products for the coffee industry - awesome to see when there’s so much debate at the moment concerning the stagnation of speciality coffee and where the heck we can go from here. One of the most striking developments has been with apps, with notable mention to Filtru.
I’m not one to shy away from ‘imposter syndrome’; especially in regards to how prevalent it is within this industry. Constantly doubting your own skills and abilities means that a simple filter brewing process becomes 10x more difficult - not to mention when the head fuzzies come floating back. Another great example is being thrown a 12-cup cafetiere when I visit home, and not having the foggiest on how to turn my glorious single-origin beans into a french-press-friendly brew. Yep, I admit it, I struggle at times, and Filtru’s a bit of a lifesaver in this department.
Filtru is a cool little app which pops all the calculations and methodology involved in hand-brewing coffee into one place. Sure a website is pretty accessible nowadays, but there’s something pretty charming about having all of this in app form. Not to mention that the app is incredibly streamlined, and is pretty satisfying to use.
I’m going to say it like the broken record that I am, but coffee festivals are still not living up to my expectations, and I know I’m not in the minority with this thinking. I’m currently working on a huge master post of last years festivals in a touch more detail, but it probably won’t surprise you too much that not much had blown me away by the end of the year.
Well, besides the Coffee House Project.
Bristol’s resident coffee festival surpassed all of my expectations. Big enough to have plenty to see and do, whilst remaining small enough to feel localised and not swamp the visitors, the CHP was everything I look for in a coffee festival. It wasn’t pretentious, there was minimal sizing up against each other, and with a plentiful amount of genuinely interesting coffee talks, the CHP seemed to tick all of the boxes.
The only bad thing I can say about it really, is the fact that it took up most of my weekend - which meant I didn’t have too much time left to look around Bristol itself! Oh I guess another trip must have to be in order soon…
A small nod towards the Brighton Coffee Fest - you guys were awesome too. However, as their first year of trading I’d be keen to see what they develop this year as there was definitely room for improvement.
You think I’d go through a huge post without a little nod towards Baristas on Tap? Oh-ho-ho-ho think again.
I would like to clarify that I am now part of the app team, but these guys were going to originally be one of the above mentions. Wouldn’t seem fair to take that away from them completely, eh?
Baristas on Tap’s a nifty little app which helped me clear some headspace between full-time jobs when I was re-assessing my career. I couldn’t just not work and think things over - because a girl’s gotta pay rent and all - and this was a great way to work the hours I wanted and be able to take time off wherever necessary.
Although I wasn’t in the position at the time to use it on the shop side, it’s also great for cafes because yano - you’re never short-staffed. Isn’t that a dream? Would’ve killed for that in my Ops Manager days.
And on that note, it’s time to wrap things up. You know, I’ve really enjoyed sitting down and typing away at this, and if you’ve got this far then I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it too. If you like what I do, feel free to follow me on the relevant social medias, just search @caffeinegalore and you’ll find me.
2019 was a funny little year, and I was ready to see it go. This year’s ‘best of’ post was incredibly important to me as many of the above got me through the turbulence of the year, and they definitely deserve the recognition.
It's truly great to be back - thanks to everyone who looked after me during the silence and I'm so excited to be writing again. Here's to a brill year ahead!
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