You don’t have to spend much time around BERG to work out that when it comes to coffee, supermarket grounds and a cafetière don’t cut it – at least not for long. Coffee geekery has an important place in the life of the studio, and the Shoreditch area of East London (where BERG’s current studio is located) is a great place to be based if you are a coffee geek. In fact, it becomes easy to take for granted the access to fantastic coffee that we have here.
I’m not going to go into the recent history of London’s coffee scene because that’s been covered rather exhaustively, recently by Bean Scene magazine. Also, I’m not going to try to list all the best coffee shops in East London because that’s been done a lot too (just google “London best coffee”), and besides there’s an app for that – and the folks who created it are on Twitter. I’m just going to highlight a few things that you might like to know if you’re planning to visit BERG or East London any time soon and want to know where to get a great cup of coffee.
Less than a half mile away from the studio up on Shoreditch High Street you’ll find Prufrock tucked into the front of clothes shop Present. It’s very much a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of place. I have no idea how many times I walked past it without ever noticing that it was there. Prufrock founder Gwilym Davies was the 2009 world barista champion. If you’re going to be around for more than a couple of days, you may want to have a go at Gwilym’s disloyalty card which he created to encourage coffee fans to patronise other high quality coffee shops around London. (I recommend Nick Wade’s lovely account of his disloyalty card tour and accompanying photos.) If you want to visit Prufrock, look for the “The Golden Horn Cigarette Company” sign outside. Prufrock Café has also recently opened in Leather Lane.
A mile and half from the studio in Bethnal Green is the home of Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Square Mile’s director James Hoffmann was the world barista champion in 2007 and is a prominent figure in the London coffee scene. You can’t buy Square Mile coffee at that location but they have an online shop. They also do a monthly subscription service. Last month James started a short weekly video podcast about coffee. One of the most interesting things Square Mile have done lately is collaborate with London-based Kernel Brewery to create Suke Quto Coffee IPA. It’s quite lovely!
Of course, with all this revitalisation going on in the London coffee scene, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to put on a festival. Sure enough, on August 8th-11th 2011, the folks who run The London Coffee Guide are putting on The London Coffee Festival at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. That’s just a half mile walk from the studio.
Any discussion about BERG and coffee wouldn’t be complete without a mention of The Shed (aka The Hut, The Shack, etc). It’s a branch of Taylor Street Baristas located in a little garden shed in a car park just off of New North Place. Since it opened late last year, we only have to walk about 200 feet to get really good coffee. Lucky us!
p.s. Want to know how to make great coffee at home using Science? Scientific American is here to tell you how.