23 November 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: NOLA, Peckham

Without doubt, 2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year for independent coffee shops and other small businesses in the hospitality industry, but the COVID-19 pandemic was one of factors that drove the opening of NOLA, a new speciality coffee shop on Rye Lane in Peckham. Owners Josephine and Anthony also form the band Oh Wonder. They created NOLA as a neighbourhood coffee shop that brings together things they love about coffee shops they've visited around the world, and that offers much-needed calm, respite and great coffee to the local community in uncertain times.

19 November 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Establishment Coffee

If I were still commuting into the office, Establishment Coffee on Saint Bride Street in the City of London, would be an ideal stop-off on my cycle route, along Cycleway 6. As I am, like many people, working from home for the foreseeable future, it took me a little longer to visit, but with several days of annual leave to spend in London earlier this month, I've now stopped by twice, once during London's second lockdown and once just before.

16 November 2020

Holiday Gift Guide for Coffee Lovers: 2020 Edition

It's been several years since I last compiled a holiday gift guide, but this year of all years, I thought it would be a good way to highlight some of the products I love — or would love to own — that can be purchased from some of my favourite coffee companies and other small businesses. I hope you'll find some inspiration for gifts for the coffee lovers in your life. And yes, that includes gifts to self, of course (I promise I won't tell).

I can't think of any coffee lovers who would not love to receive a top-quality bag of speciality coffee beans as a gift, and I'd recommend finding a roaster or coffee shop local to you; they'd appreciate your support. But if you need more inspiration, my coffee city guides may help. Equally, if you're thinking of purchasing a speciality coffee subscription as a gift, I can recommend Dog and Hat (which I reviewed here) for the quality and variety of their selection. As we've all been spending a lot more time at home this year, coffee brewing equipment is another good gift category; you can find a list of the equipment I use regularly here, but I'd recommend buying from an independent coffee shop or roaster, if you can.


Regular readers will know that I have a passion for beautiful ceramics, and these are some of the cups that I either own or that have caught my eye.

Melisa Dora tumblers (£25). I discovered the work of Melisa, who is based not far from me in south-east London, when I bought one of her tumblers at Rosslyn Coffee. I love the cheerful colour palette and minimalist design, and now own two of her tumblers, a mug and two pasta bowls.

12 November 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Black Box, Covent Garden

Keeping an independent coffee shop afloat in central London is no mean feat at best of times, let alone opening one, and especially in 2020. But Black Box in Covent Garden is hardly barista and owner Ant's first speciality coffee rodeo; it's not even Ant's first Black Box, although it was the now-defunct Black Chapel in Wandsworth, beloved by my fellow bloggers at BeanThere.at among many others, that was the one that got away from me.

9 November 2020

At The Clove Club, a Pre-Lockdown Birthday Celebration

With both my holiday and birthday plans brought to a screeching halt by the sudden announcement of a second lockdown in England last week, I took the opportunity to arrange a pre-lockdown early birthday dinner for myself. The Clove Club in Shoreditch, which has a Michelin star and which features on the world's 50 best restaurants list, has long been on my fine-dining wishlist. Its popularity means booking well in advance is usually essential, but changing rules and restrictions in London and beyond, meant I was able to secure a slot at the chef's counter on Lockdown Eve Eve.

2 November 2020

Finding Comfort in Comfort Food at the Provisioners' Foodslut Residency

Things could be much worse, but I've had a tough few months, with work busier than ever — I work for a scientific journal so it's been non-stop COVID-19 research. And unfortunately, all of the six holidays that I had booked this year happened to fall during times when London and its UK were under more restrictive COVID-19 measures. My last hope of getting a proper break was the two weeks I had booked in November, initially to go to Thailand, then I thought I might manage Italy, before eventually booking  a last-minute trip to Athens, with a family trip to Devon as a back-up. My 'plan C' was to use my annual leave to visit lots of coffee shops and restaurants in London — I really feel for everyone working in the hospitality industry at the moment, and want to continue to show my support. And then, of course, the 'not-a-lockdown' second lockdown put paid even to that.

27 October 2020

The Caffeine Chronicles: Over Under Coffee, Ladbroke Grove

Outside Over Under Coffee's Ladbroke Grove cafe, there's an A-board that reads 'best in the west'. Indeed, the Antipodean speciality coffee company has other locations in Earl's Court, West Brompton and Wandsworth, all a little far west for me even now I have two wheels at my disposal. And it was on two wheels that I made it to Ladbroke Grove on Sunday morning, despite the intermittently inclement weather.