Costa flat white

Y’all know I love a flat white. A flat white is the luxury you can afford when you are new to London and branded two-minute noodles is fancy AF. A beautiful coffee gives me ‘pause’, a chance to breathe out before tackling the insanity of London. And of course since joining Instagram, a well poured flat white gives me the chance to show off my nail polish #dontjudge. What all of this means is that I have become Judgy McJudgeface about the florets on top of the coffee, if the barista messes them up I write him/her off to the tenth circle of hell and assume that they are a terrible person. Me, harsh? Never.

Then Costa came along and offered to put me in my place. Well, to be fair they offered me a place on a flat white masterclass where I could try doing coffee art for myself – but we all know that the gauntlet had been thrown. It was time to prove myself, time to prostrate myself in front of the coffee Lords and see if my microbubbles would float to the top. If I failed, New Zealand would disown me and I would drift through the world stateless and only drinking tea.

The master class had us in store let loose on the coffee machine, the big coffee machine. I was totally cocky until I was actually stood in front of it and then suddenly felt like I was about to diffuse a bomb: point 1 to the baristas (see my face below to get an indication of how I was feeling). I chose my roast, going with the special Old Paradise Street 17 that is on at the moment (request it instead of the normal roast, then send me flowers to say thank you for the suggestion). The coffee part went fine, by which I mean I managed to get coffee in the cup. But then came the pressure test – the milk. To achieve the micro foam that makes the flat white so unique I had to hold the milk jug so that the wand hit the side, and then keep it there until the milk looked like a mirror. Yes, to achieve a flat white you need mirror milk.

Runawaykiwi failing at making coffee

So far so good, I had milk that I could see myself in and a perfect roast in a cup. Oh god, it was time for the art. My instructions were; Middle, forward, wiggle, cut. Holding the cup at 45degrees I started pouring the milk in the middle, brought my pour forward, then wriggled the jug to get the points in the fern and then cut the flow so I didn’t spoil the design. HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA NOPE. Following the instructions terribly, I achieved something more akin to the instructions for a waltz than a silver fern. In my defence our barista Matyas had to make 558 flat whites before Costa gave him the coveted flat white pin. Yes, the baristas in Costas get flair to show their progress (so always ask the guy with the most pins on his collar out on a date… guaranteed good coffee).  So me failing on my first attempt was understandable, and besides maybe I am just ahead of the game on the abstract coffee art game.

Abstract coffee art

One thing I was on a mission to discover at the master class is why their cups are so big. Every time I have had coffee at Costa over the years, the largeness of the flat white cup they use has always put me off and I have ordered a cortado instead. I asked about this at the master class (note to self: in future don’t start a conversation by marching up to a stranger and saying ‘can I talk to you about cup size’), and they are trialing the traditional smaller flat white cups at their Shelton Street branch. Apparently the market demand is currently for the larger cup, but I hope that the smaller variety makes it into the rest of the stores soon.

It was damn fun to be let loose on the machine and see how hard it is to get that perfect Instagramable flat white art. Costa is running a free flat white masterclass next week so you can all create your own waltz pattern coffee, its free and I seriously recommend heading down just for the lols. I 100% think my skills lie in drinking coffee not making it (that is my excuse and I am sticking to it), but I would love to have another go just so I can impress people at parties.

To finish I thought I would publicly declare that I will never again hate on a barista that does not give me the perfect flat white topper. Although I will continue to propose marriage to anyone who makes me a coffee perfect enough for Instagram…

This post is sponsored by Costa.

Hally's Flat white Parsons Green

I went out for brunch the other day to the lovely Hally’s in Parsons Green. I sat there surrounded by couples, one of whom managed to have three arguments before they had even finished my coffees. Me? I sat there writing my blog, interacting on Twitter and just having an all and all chill time.

I had (much to my horror) never heard of Hally’s, which I’m pretty sure is down to the fact it is across the other side of London from me – us Londoners tend to stick local. Then CitizenMag came along and offered to shout me to brunch at one of their recommendations, and to put it bluntly Hally’s looked like a dreamboat.

And I guess that is one part of why I so often brunch alone, I fucking love cafes. I love finding new ones, I love trying new food and I love supporting the little guy. Which means that I am totally happy to travel for over an hour, to the other side of London, just to experience new brunching horizons. If I was going with friends I would most likely have just gone to an old fave mid-way between where we lived, or at least on a matching tube line. If it is only me that is inconvenienced however, 2.5hour round trip for a super strong flat white is totally reasonable and a damn good way to spend a Saturday.

Hally’s really reminds me of a cafe from home, relaxed but doing everything right. The coffee was an automatic double shot which I am always a well caffeinated fan of, and for once every coffee I ordered had beautiful latte art (normally there is one dud in the bunch) – my excuse for ordering three was ‘quality control’. That is the crux of it, I LIKE noticing the latte art and it is really something you can only pay attention to solo. People see to frown on you interrupting a normal conversation to tell them how pretty the coffee is…

Hally's avocado pancakes Parsons GreenHally's avocado pancakes Parsons Green IMG_5742

I was thinking more about this as the arguing couple got into yet another low volume tiff (if his brother could come and stay next weekend, she didn’t like the brother drinking habits), some of the solo dining thing comes down to the old extrovert/introvert dilemma. I need to spend time by myself to recharge, I need to not worry about saying the right thing, responding in the right way, I need to spend time alone to get me back. I realise to the extroverts among you brunching alone amounts to torture, but that’s ok it takes all sorts and us introverts rely on you to apply for horribly embarrassing reality tv shows which keep us entertained.

The other notable at Hally’s aside from the coffee (and apart from the fluffy fluffy dog on the other side of the room that I sort of wanted to kidnap) was the food. I had never even heard of Avocado and Quinoa pancakes, let alone tried them so of course it is what I went for because I am drawn to the ‘new’ like a moth in a disco. They came with a tomato salsa, goats cheese curd and crispy bacon – more along the ‘corn fritter’ flavour lines then a traditional pancake and they were so tasty. My only wish is that they came with more of a sauce type thing because they were a little dry, but then I spilled my coffee over them and fulfilled my own wish.

Go and check out Hally’s if you are in that neck of the woods, it is a great addition to the London brunch crew and is Instagrammable as heck. I would happily track out there again to eat those pancakes, and once I’ve blogged about it I might even convince some friends to come with…

Pokemon Cafe London
Well now, who knew that all those hours playing Pokémon as a kid were going to be of more use as an adult than long division. Actually, 11 year old Rebecca could have told you that one. Since I am here as a resource to help you survive London, I simply had to write something to make playing Pokémon Go as enjoyable as possible. As you are wandering around London aimlessly looking at your phone here are my favourite cafes and their nearest Pokestops so you can refuel and get your strength back for your next Poke-battle. NB these cafes also work if you are playing Happen, Ingress or Grinder.
London Grind – Try the little silver dragon on a plinth outside or across the road

White Mulberries – Big stone seat just outside and to the left and the Knight outside the Medieval Banquet

Grounded – the gate to the park across the street

Trade – the entrance to Petticoat Lane market down the road

Blixen – the Ten Bells pub on the corner if you turn right and also the Pear sculpture if you walk the other way

Ozone – The Angel pub on the corner of the road

Lantana Old Street – Susanna Wesley memorial in the church next door

Attendant Coffee Shoreditch – pretty much every piece of street art nearby

Shoreditch Grind – The Mirror Disks around the corner

Friends of Ours – Royal Oak Court gate

Modern Pantry Finsbury Square – The square itself is the Pokestop

The Wren – St Nicholas Cole Abbey and the police box at the end of Friday Street

Notes of Music and Coffee – this one is actually near a gym (National Gallery/Trafalgar Square)

Flat White Soho – Jessie Matthews OBE Plaque and also lots of street art nearby

Timberyard Soho – There is a little blue face in the wall near the cafe

Prufrock – The Clerkenwell House Globe just a few doors down

Fields – The Bandstand mosaic and also one on the lower corner of the pond

Fuckoffee Bermondsey – Both of the sculptures outside the White Cube Gallery

Watch Tower – St Mary Magdalen Church

Creme – The ‘Sky Blue Wall’ street art

Freestate Coffee – The gate to Sicilian Ave next door

Sunday – The Hemingford Arms pub

Flotsam and Jetsam – The Althorp Pub

Story – Very weirdly it’s the Peterkin Custard Ghost sign

Granger and Co – The German Gymnasium, the Birdcage sculpture and the waterfall fountain

Milk in Balham – There should be one just around the end of the market under the sign

Brickwood Clapham Common – The Alexandra and the Clapham Common Clock Tower

Hubbard and Bell – Cleopatra Mall Mosaic

Tonic – This is near a gym (Piccadilly Circus)

Duck and Waffle – The entire tower is the Pokestop

Embassy East – The Whitmore Estate

Bourne and Hollingsworth – The Spa Fields just outside the door

Caravan – The fountain just outside

Let me know your favourite cafe and I will try to let you know the Pokestop nearby!

Happy catching.

Find a flat white in London Brunch spots that I love

Damson Gin cocktail at Mothers Ruin Gin Palace

I got a coffee before work this morning, my little reward for getting out of bed on a Monday morning. As I sat down at my desk I took the first sip and gah, it was burnt. Being a Monday morning I responded in a totally calm and measured way “for fucks sake this bastard coffee is burnt to all hell”. Reasonable reaction right?

I can’t help but feel that with tragedy after tragedy hitting the news, and the inevitable quagmire of offended outrage/finger pointing/tactless jokes on social media that my burnt coffee could quite easily be defined as a first world problem.

First world problem: n informal
1. Rebecca buying a coffee that tasted a little burned
2. Rebecca feeling so affronted by the burned coffee she wrote a blog post about it

Do the little tragedies have a place any more? With so much utter shit in the world should we all just shut the hell up? I mean, here is my list of little tragedies from over the weekend:

  • Spilled my cocktail that was served in a martini glass (the worst type of glass) and had a sticky hand for an hour
  • Missed my train by moments and had to wait for 17 minutes for the next one
  • I am still getting over a cold that I had three weeks ago
  • My attempt at winged eyeliner went haywire and I didn’t have time to try again
  • Tripped over a paving stone in front of a pub pavement full of people
  • Its the end of June and the weather still looks like March
  • Went out early Saturday morning looking like hell and ran into three people I know

All tiny insignificant problems, but all ones that caused a torrent of swearwords to pin ball inside my brain. I know what is happening in the news, I know that lives are being destroyed and prejudice and hate seem to be winning…so why am I just not letting my micro-tragedies go? Why do they still piss me of and make me want to self sooth with chocolate and tea? Worse than trying to put them behind me, my brain seems to relish these silly little moments – enjoying the grumbling and the forceful fucks that escape my lips.

My brain seems to need these little tragedies. I can understand the cause, the effect  and can easily overcome with a little moan with friends. The big stuff is insurmountable, I don’t have a hope in rationalising American gun laws, toxic UK politics or the planes that keep falling out of the sky. To try is to fall into a pit of horrible opinions, thoughts and prayers. So instead I call my burnt coffee a bastard.

I overreact to my stupid first world problem because I know, at least with such a small insignificant issue, it will get better.