29 March 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: Curve Pop-Up Brew Bar

Barely a month ago, I was enjoying a very fine cortado at Blackburn Coffee in Paris when I made a resolution to try more coffee from Curve Roasters, the Margate-based roaster whose coffee was in the Blackburn hopper that weekend. By happy coincidence, I didn't have long to wait because last weekend, Curve came to me. Well, technically, they came to open up a pop-up brew bar at Nape, the excellent new charcuterie bar and deli in Camberwell, but who's counting?

Camberwell's main drag, Camberwell Church Street, has some great restaurants (Silk Road, of course, among many others) and three of my favourite south-east London coffee shops: Daily Goods, Lumberjack and The Pigeon Hole. Nape itself is located just down from Camberwell Green, near the junction with the wonderfully named Artichoke Place. They open at noon at the weekend and from 5 pm during the week for cured meats and drinks, and I've noticed a few tastings on their website — both gin and whiskey.

For the next few weekends (excluding London Coffee Festival, of course) Curve will be taking over the bar from 9–2 pm and serving brewed coffee and doughnuts, and as I'm not going to be in London for many weekends in April, I prioritised a visit last Saturday after a brunch nearby with the girls.

Beyond the understated, grey exteriors of the shopfront, Nape was bathed in sunlight and its minimalist interiors accented with cheery daffodils when I visited, and the welcome from the lovely Jon and Teresa from Curve was just as warm. There are a few stools perched next to the bar with plenty more — of both high and low varieties — towards the back of the space. The interiors are very industrial-chic: monochrome stools paired with the white tiles and non-nonsense steel of the bar itself.

As well as a selection of doughnuts and croissants, there were no fewer than five filter coffees on offer when I visited, three hand-brewed (£3) and two batch brew (£2). Overwhelmed by the selection and (if I'm honest), more than a little caffeinated already, I ordered on the basis of the flavour profiles — the delicate, floral washed Chelelektu from Ethiopia seemed to go with the gloriously warm sunshine. Brewed through the V60, the coffee was light but flavoursome and came beautifully presented (I particularly love the cups, which were made especially for the pop-up).

I realised too late that I had missed the chance to try a Papua New Guinean Maga variety, so I'll have to cross my fingers and hope there will be other opportunities when I next return. My friend, who lives just around the corner, stopped by on Sunday and was impressed by her coffee too, and she and her young daughter were made to feel very welcome.

Curve's brew bar will be at Nape (21 Camberwell Church Street, London, SE5 8TR (Denmark Hill Overground) on 1 & 2, 15 & 16 and 22 & 23 April — but keep an eye on their Twitter feed and Instagram. You can also catch them at the London Coffee Festival, which is on from 6–9 April.

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