London and A Taste of Canada

Had a nice trip down to London the other day for Taste of Canada at Square Mile, with Glen and Nik from Black Mountains Coffee Co, and Lobster Bob.

Due to unfeasibly (ridiculously) awful traffic, we arrived at Whitecross St market just as Gwilym’s cart was closing. Gwilym himself was away in Italy (again! – quite rightly living the highlife!), and so I didn’t get to congratulate him in person or try a coffee, but his folks on the cart kindly directed us to Dose, where I had a lush, glittering espresso, courtesy of the combined efforts of James, SqMile blend, and the FB/80 there.

Then we popped over to Square Mile, where James gave us a little insight into the mighty Synesso, which was great, having never seen one of these in the flesh before, let alone it’s internal bits and bobs…


Naturally, there were Scaces, trophies, coffee, and Probats lying around all over the place as well! 

probat sqmile

We ducked out for a while to let the team get ready for the evening, and when we returned, a chatty buzz of coffee folks had already gathered in readiness for the evening’s tasting. James then proceeded to knock out about 200 shots on the Synesso in the next hour or two with a very impressive sense of ease!

toc ab

What really struck me (perhaps more than the individual coffees themselves) was the amazing quality, clarity and crispness of the espresso. The equipment set-up at Square Mile undoubtedly plays a key role in making this possible. The shot I had at Dose was of a similar stature, from a probably comparable set-up. Exciting stuff! This level of espresso quality is something that is very difficult, even impossible I think, for me to achieve at present, regardless of the coffee and diligence deployed…

toc b

As is usually the case for me with these coffee events, I come away with the valuable sense that I know next to nothing compared with some of the many talented coffee people out there, but at the same time, I feel inspired to continue trying to improve what I do. Improving my tasting ability is one key area – any blind tasting of unfamiliar coffees like this helps, but I still struggled to accurately pin-down the coffees’ key characteristics. Judging by the comments board, I was not alone though! I think to some extent, lots of us may have been searching toohard for distinctive or  unusual flavours. I think my favourite was No. 3 (49th Parallel’s Epic).

toc c

Managed to catch-up a little with various folks I’ve met in recent times, although sadly there were others I didn’t get chance to. Infact, due to the chatting (and being wired on caffeine), I never thought to buy a bag of Square Mile’s coffee whilst I was there, which I’m a bit annoyed about! Oh well – I guess I’ve already got too much coffee at home…

A lovely evening, place, coffee and people. Thanks to James, Anette and David, etc, at the roastery, and Black Mountains Coffee for inviting me along.

One Response to “London and A Taste of Canada”

  1. James Hoffmann Says:

    Glad you had fun! Also pleased you enjoyed the coffees we had.

    Was good to catch up – even if it was very brief!

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