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.

Find a good flat white in London

Since the day I arrived in London coffee has been my luxury. I might not have been able to afford flash restaurants or weekend trips away (or even my rent to be honest) but I could fill my weekends with good coffee. For less than £3 I could sit in a heartrendingly hip London cafe, sip a flat white and dream big.

After almost three years here and an estimated 1,825 cups of coffee it really grinds my gears when people say “there is no good coffee in London”… fuck off back to your ignorant hobbit hole you decaffeinated little turd. There is some amazing coffee to be had in London, and most of it has made its way here via the antipodes. So I present to you my favourite spots, tried and tested time and time again – read on to discover where to find a good flat white in London.

To see them all on a map click here

White Mulberries

White Mullberries London

These guys have a really soft squishy special place in my heart. One of the first good coffee places I discovered in London, and because it looks out over the yachts of St Katherine Docks it reminds me of home. Tiny but amazing, especially if you can snag a seat outside next to the water. They have spot on coffee every single time and a great range of tempting counter food; oh and they once saved me a doughnut when I tweeted them #service

Notes of Music and Coffee

Notes of music and coffee

Another sentimental one for me, I first discovered these guys when I was visiting the National Gallery every weekend (even if you are not into art, come winter the National Gallery is a) warm and b) free). Beautiful coffee that they roast themselves, and if you sit there long enough the coffee turns to wine. They also have a barrow down at Borough Market which I always make a bee line to when I visit (I’m less likely to punch a tourist if I am pre-caffeinated).

Grounded Coffee Company

Grounded Coffee Company London

This is the new kid on the block and I love. Uniquely for London there is actually a fair bit of seating here, and the doors open up completely which makes you feel like you’re in a different city entirely. They also do a cracking brunch, but this cafe is so new that it missed out on my favourite brunch spots list… so it wound up here!

Flat White Soho

Flat White Soho amaze balls

I know, with a name like that would you expect anything else? Very tight on seating, but perfect to grab a coffee to go before you brave the crazy that is Oxford Street. If you are lucky they will also have their legendary Amazeballs which are essentially the balls of the gods and must be consumed in multiples of two.

The cafe with no name

Cafe with no name

Ok it actually does have a name, The Exmouth Coffee Company. But since it has no damn sign outside it is forever being described as The Cafe with No Name, and thus it is what everyone calls it. Again very consistent coffee (do I need to keep saying this, its a list of good coffee?), plus some delicious counter food including a bar that is just caramel and pecans NOTHING ELSE.

Fernandez and Wells

Fernandez and Wells

Mostly focussing on cured meats and cheese, they are the perfect spot for a mid-touristing coffee. The outlook over the courtyard of Somerset House is something truly special.

Timberyard

Timberyard Salted Caramel Affogato

Do yourself a favour and go to Timberyard this summer, order the Salted Caramel Affogato and then accept that you will never have such joy dancing across your taste buds as you do at this moment. For all you health conscious freaks of nature that don’t believe in ice cream first thing on a Sunday morning they also do a kick ass flat white and other treats such as peanut butter brownie.

Prufrock

Prufrock London coffee machine

Prufrock is the shit, if I was going to stage a hostile takeover and move my bed into a cafe it would be Prufrock that got the unholy honour. This place is huge by London standards and has free wifi so is ideal for blog hopping. If you go it’s almost compulsory to get a brownie bite to go with your flat white, and if you are a true rebel you will let it soak up the dregs (trust me on this).

Fields

Feilds Cafe Clapham

Ok so I HATED the brunch here, it was a weirdly coloured salt city on a plate. However the coffee was on point and served in a very cute little bubble glass. So I would return just for the flat white if I ever ventured south of the river.

Fuckoffee

Bermondsy Street Coffee

These guys are worth a visit just to get the coffee card alone. Now don’t be confused when you don’t see the ever glorious flat white on the menu, its written up there at ‘fat wife’…I can’t speak for the sense of humour but the coffee it worth the pretense. A sister cafe to Brick Lane Coffee, both cafes have some very cool art on the walls and music tends to be pumping all day. With a tag line of ‘come happy leave edgy’ you know the coffee is strong and should be injected directly into the eyeballs.

Watch House Coffee

Watch House Coffee

Crap I love this place, so damn cute. It’s worth a visit just to check out the curved wooden benches with inbuilt USB ports for charging your phone. Go early because it is a cafe that is slightly smaller than life-sized.

The Wren

The Wren Flat White London

You walk inside and feel like you are walking on hallowed ground. Although given that the Wren is good coffee in the chain coffee death zone that is the area between St Pauls and Tate Modern maybe it is just a little bit holy. When the law finally changes and lets me marry coffee I will hold the ceremony in front of the stained glass of the Wren. #singleforever

Cream

Cream shoreditch

The first time I wen’t I wasn’t a huge fan of their flat white (too milky for my taste) but it makes the list because coffee lovers I respect rave about it, and fuck it everyone has their own taste in coffee (maybe I just need to order down a cup size??). Plus this cafe makes you feel like you have been transported to Titirangi by lining the walls with plants and light. Very very chillaxing.

Curators Coffee Gallery

Curators Coffee Gallery Matcha Flat White

I think these guys do good coffee. I say that because I made a grave error here by trying a matcha flat white because all the other hipsters mums let them do it. The most positive review I could give a matcha flat white is that it tastes like a really nice pond scum…NB I don’t like green tea so no idea what I was thinking even trying it. The coffee I had afterwards was good but I was so busy retching over bits of pond scum that I think it might have been amazing and I just didn’t notice.

Holborn Grind

Holborn Grind

Part of the Grind chain you can always be sure of two things when you visit – that you will get a really good flat white and that apple computers will outnumber actual conversations.

Tonic Coffee Bar

Tonic Coffee London

If you are brave enough to get off the tube and walk through the mini-New York that is Piccadilly Circus then Tonic can be your reward. No seating but great coffee so worth adding an extra couple of minutes onto your City Mapper journey so you can pick up a flat white on the move.

Freestate Coffee

Freestate Coffee London

This place is always packed and rightfully so with coffee as good as this. Even being the introvert that I am I ask to share a table with a stranger just so I can imbibe the perfect flat white on the spot.

 

Brunch spots that I love

Alpress Espresso Flat White
The London Coffee Festival is on at the Old Truman Brewery this weekend, I ran down in my lunch break today to see what caffeinated fun was on offer DEAR GOD LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES.

1. There is no such thing as too much coffee

Seriously I am a coffee drinking machine, I laugh at this puny coffee festival. I am the master of the bean FLAT WHITE ME BABY.

2. Yes there are a lot of hipsters at a coffee festival, but also just a lot of normal people that like coffee too

Even though the London Coffee Festival was in Shoreditch not everyone there had a beard. I even put away my Python-esque beard that I normally wear out in hipster areas of London. I would go as far as to say there were people there today who were just Londoners who liked coffee. There were even tea stands there for people who don’t like coffee…but we don’t talk about those weirdos.

3. There are some new style coffee roasters out there who are not at all snobby

Assembly Coffee Roasters

I met Rory from Assembly coffee and I might or might not have fallen in love with him. I mean I told him that I was after his espresso, but actually that was my way of proposing marriage (seriously Rory, tweet me #iloveyou). Anyway Assembly coffee is a roaster without the snobbery, it is a cafe collective that allows the drinker to discover the flavours for themselves. The cool blend logos give hints to what flavours you could pick up in the beans (yellow for lemon etc), but at the end of the day if you like it, drink it.

4. There are coffee roasters outside London

Freehand Coffee Roasters

The name caught my eye, the artwork drew me in, the coffee made me stay. Freehand coffee is a roaster from Cornwall (apparently this is outside Zone 1???) that only launched YESTERDAY. I know, brave guys starting their business amongst the stiff competition of the London Coffee Festival. The coffee was super smooth and is one I will be keeping my eye out for.

5. I still feel sad 5 hours later that I missed Timberyard

Timberyard is a weekend favorite of mine, and I was looking out for them. When I discovered after I left that they had been serving boozy salted caramel affogatos a solitary tear rolled down my cheek. Those affogatos are my magic trick for making a depressed weekend come right, and adding booze? My god it might have been better than kittens. Any chance of this making an appearance at your cafes Timberyard gods?

6. I can be bribed.

Fields Cafe Bribe

A strange man came up to me and offered me a bribe. I turned it down because I am a totally ethical blogger (lies I 100% took it and it was for a kick ass coffee at Fields).

7. When confronted by a flat white sized Keep Cup the answer is yes

phoenix_sx_368x438

How the hell did I become the sort of person who has TWO Keep Cups. I might have had about four coffees by this point and as soon as I saw they had a special flat white (6oz) cup it just had to be mine. Apologies to everyone nearby who hears me yell Ermahgerd FLAT WHITE at the top of my caffeinated lungs.

8. Some people don’t understand Instagram

Not kidding, when I asked one roaster (who shall remain nameless) if I could take a picture of their coffee they looked really confused and asked “why?”. Ummm I don’t know maybe because it was the press/industry day at the festival and bloggers like photos? The reason it remains nameless wasn’t because of the photo thing…it was because the coffee was just meh.

9. There is such a thing as too much coffee

Turns out that having 6 shots of coffee in an hour while on your lunch break is TOO MUCH COFFEE. For the rest of the afternoon I was typing at the speed of sound but all it said was COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE

Dare to Dream

In the lead up to GFX Liverpool my weekend/weekday distinction got a bit hazy. So I was faced with the dilemma of how to motivate myself to keep at the project plans when the rest of London seemed to be enjoying the weekend like never before. I came up with a slightly insane plan of promising a new cafe every time I tired/de-motivated. It seemed to work and I got a solid of 8 hours of work done on a Sunday, here are a couple of the cafes I discovered!

1. Watch House Coffee – 193 Bermondsey St, SE1 3UW

The Watch House Coffee

This is a cafe that has had a brilliant designer cast their eye over it. In the tiny cafe half of the room has wooden seating built into the wall, so it transitions from old stone to clean wooden lines in a heartbeat. The coolest feature is the inbuilt charging stations. No need for ugly three pinned plugs here, these are all USB baby. I was lucky to grab a seat and enjoyed a strong coffee (we are talking Wellington strength) to get my day sorted. The also have a big range of sweet and savory food with the counter taking up almost half the room. Good coffee, charging stations and free wifi made for a perfect Sunday work spot and put it firmly on my regular coffee list.

2. Bermondsey Street Coffee – 163 – 167 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UW

Bermondsy Street Coffee

Bermondsey Street Coffee is owned by the same Come Happy Leave Edgy kids as Brick Lane Coffee. So expect a loyalty card that would make a Fulford blush and super comfy seating to finally perfect your VLOOKUPs. I think I might like this one a little more than its Brick Lane cousin, there is less of a ‘you might be stabbed by an over-caffeinated hipster’ vibe, and has some motivational art. Win win.