My Day Off

I decided to take a time out of my business the other day and go to London to see an exhibition at the Tate Modern Gallery. However being in the coffee business I find you never really take a day off, instead I found myself drinking more coffee than ever as I trawled various outlets on both my outward and return journeys.  

If you’re into coffee as I am it’s always intriguing to discover where the gems are in amongst the other stuff.

I started at our local Airport departure lounge. Thumbs down I’m afraid – dark roasted generic blah is seriously un-inspired to the point where even Starbucks the great promotor of charred coffee are now backtracking as they discover that consumers are actually interested in what the coffee tastes like.

Next stop was one of my favourite coffee businesses, Monmouth in Borough market. It has a permanent queue which isn’t bad for a business where a small mug of filter coffee will cost you £3.10 a pop. However as they say price isn’t everything and the combination of a great Colombian and good coffee to water ratio means that you get a lot of bang for your proverbial buck. Quality over quantity. You can see why the punter queues here rather than visit close by establishments selling ubiquitous Illy and Lavazza for half the price.

Following my visit to the excellent Modigliani exhibition at the Tate I had lunch at a restaurant called Roast, the food was very acceptable and well the coffee was smooth. I understand they use a Southampton roaster who are delivering something reasonable if not memorable.

I subsequently met with my son at a favourite haunt of his Foyle’s Bookshop. Having made a purchase we ventured to the top floor and had a coffee. Well I think that is what was made. Foyle’s have now got the dubious distinction of producing a coffee that was so bad as to be undrinkable, and I’ve had a few dodgy ones over the years. A close second to a coffee I purchased in Bolivia, however at least there I was warned! I wish that I had had the opportunity to return it however we were in a hurry and had to dash out to catch a train.  

My final coffee of this little adventure was at “Pret a Manager” the following morning. I had made the truly bad mistake of relying on Southern Rail to get me from London Bridge to Gatwick within a reasonable timeframe the evening before. A reliance that proved to be mistaken and probably the source material for a blog on another day!

Anyway returning to that coffee at Pret. I have to say I was disappointed. Like Monmouth I hold Pret in very high esteem, however I see Pret have now moved into Costa territory in London. Everywhere you turn there’s another one waiting to take your money. That’s all fine but you do get to the point of wanting ABP (anything but Pret!). I chose a black filter coffee and once again was met with a mind numbing dark number. I expected something interesting given Pret’s reputation with food but instead got that generic dark bluh. Why? Maybe as Pret reach ubiquity status a bit of what got them there is being lost for fear of being overly original. I imagine there is some huge manual somewhere that specs out the tolerances that need to be met so that the “customer experience” is consistent throughout every store. Oh for God’s sake live a little!

And so I returned to home base, our store in Halkett Place. I requested a black Americano and Ed, our newest employee produced this delightful sweet beverage that makes the heart sing. I know I could be a bit biased here but I really am our biggest critic when it comes to tasting our coffee. I had to know which coffee he had used. It transpired that it was from Brazil and that magical estate Daterra. What’s more it goes by the name “Sunrise” a more appropriate coffee he could not have chosen.

And so ended my “day off”, now I really could do with one!   

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