Brewers Cup Competition

Those of you who follow way to many coffee people on Twitter will probably be aware of the WCE (World Coffee Events) meeting in Dublin last week.  The WCE is a new banner organisation under which the current competitions now fall (WBC, Latte art, Cupping, Coffee in Good Spirits and Ibrik Comps).  There were a couple of new competitions announced, including the World Brewers Cup Competition.  Finally, many of us are thinking, a brewing competition!  I’m pretty excited about it, looking forward to hearing about the feedback and response from the upcoming US regionals.

I am not sure if there are plans to run it in the UK this year, if there are I will post the details.  (And probably enter too!)  If you want a quick video introduction to the competition then check out this video 1:

I’m sure it will generate some criticism for its format, but before people hate on it too much – can we at least try it first to see how it works? 2 Skepticism is fine (and to be encouraged to a point), but this is still being put together by the hard work of volunteers so if you have a better competition and are willing to give up your time then I am sure they’d be very pleased to hear from you.

I’m positive we’ll be seeing more details (rules, regs, scoresheets etc etc) coming out in the next few weeks, including information about the other competition which is the Roasting Competition!  Interesting stuff indeed!

UPDATE: Thanks to Oscar – the rules, regs and downloadables are to be found here.

UKBC Starts!

Talking of competition – the UK regionals kick off next week in the South East, which is being held on Monday and Tuesday in London.  (Details here).  Hopefully people will be coming down to hang out and support some entrants who’ve done the wise thing and made the effort to compete!  There are heats around the UK so come on out to support your friends/favourite baristas!  (I’m not judging this year, so won’t be at any of the other heats sadly.)

  1. Yes, I do seem to be in the video, but no – I had nothing to do with it  ↩︎
  2. This is not because I think the format is bad – more the reaction people often have to competition formats in general.  ↩︎

London Coffee Jobs Site update

About a year ago I registered a domain and set up a simple website called London Coffee Jobs. The idea was pretty simple – create a focused site that would help connect baristas and cafes in London. I knew (from my inbox) that they were looking for each other and struggling.

It quietly ran away in the background, and though it was set up to charge per job I let people post for free to see if it had value. Continue reading “London Coffee Jobs Site update”

UK Coffee Week

I know it is a little way off but I wanted to write something about the upcoming UK Coffee Week.  You can get a good idea of who is behind it, what the goals are, and what the first project is from the website.

I am involved as a trustee of the Allegra Foundation, and the roastery will be promoting it.  I should add that I’m a big fan of the way that the Foundation is currently funded – administrative costs come from seed funds, so none of the donations raised are spent on anything other than charitable work.

It is hard not to be excited by what is possible if 5p per cup of coffee sold for a week went to charity.  I hope people see the involvement of bigger companies as a positive thing in this context, and that they don’t allow this to put them off.  I strongly encourage people to get involved as I think this has great potential to do amazing things!

Excited and nervous

About this.

I look forward to making coffee for people, haven’t done that since I used to do the occasional shift on Gwilym’s cart on a Sunday.  I will post some pics up here, or on flickr, or on the Square Mile blog (or maybe all of them) soon.

Hopefully see some of you there soon!  Happy to answer any questions in the comments!


London Gastronomy – Cheese

I love cheese. Everyone loves cheese.  I don’t really, despite trying, really understand cheese.

Before I type cheese too many times I want to let people know that the next London Gastronomy Seminar is coming up and I am really quite excited about it.  There are more details here.

On a side note – Neal’s Yard Dairy are a company that I have a huge amount of respect for, not just because of the quality of their product but because they do such a great job of communicating it in their shop, and ultimately they are incredibly good at selling it.

There is lots to be learned here.  I hope to see you there!

Aida’s Grand Reserve

I am very much aware that promoting my own products or business on a personal blog very quickly spends any currency of goodwill that I might have built up.

There are, however, rare instances where I think it is entirely worth it and this is one of them. There is more information about the coffee on the product page, but we want to keep up the spirit of generosity of people like Aida Batlle and Gwilym and we want to raise as much money as we can.

You can read more about this coffee and what we are doing here. I hope you’ll consider buying a bag.

London Gastronomy Seminars – Wine & Coffee

This evening I had a lot of fun presenting at the London Gastronomy Seminars.  The topic was flavour in wine and coffee, and I was up after Jamie Goode, which is a hard act to follow!  Our topic was “Flavour – from plant to cup”

Jamie’s presentation was full of information and topics that could have become a presentation in their own right.  Talking to him before, and thinking about what he said during, I suspect I am going to get sucked into flavour perception all over again.  Not so much the mechanics of taste reception and gustation – but more what our brains choose to do with this information.  Perception rather than detection.

I should also add that the wine Jamie used for his talk was fascinating.  The best description I could have was it was like tasting a natural process, having only drunk washed coffees.  Jamie’s rather more eloquent notes on it can be found here.

I really do enjoy giving talks and a room full of 150+ people certainly delivers a little adrenaline rush.  (I shall make no secret of the fact that I would kill to talk at TED one day, so thoroughly jealous of Intelligentsia being involved this year! If you need a barista at all…..) That said – suddenly having to brew 16+ litres of coffee with a single filter brewer was a little challenging!

I talked a bit about coffee’s journey, dividing the narrative into four stages:  creation (growing)/processing/roasting/brewing.  I then served two coffees and tried to relate the flavours in the cup back through those four stages.  The Q&A from the audience at the end was inevitably my favourite bit, the range of questions was wonderful.  Unfortunately they were unable to film tonight’s event, and I don’t think putting the slides up would be very interesting.

I think the London Gastronomy Seminars are going to continue to grow and grow – there already seems to be a community forming of diverse and interesting people with a shared passion.  I look forward to the next one, and hopefully I’ll see you there!

Great new coffee brewing website

A rather splendid new website launched today, and I think it is a great idea and potentially very, very useful for us all.

It is called Brew Methods and I strongly suggest you visit, bookmark and begin sending the link to everyone you know.

You can read more about it by its creators on cleanhotdry, but the premise is simple – a single place online you can send anyone who wants to know more about brewing coffee, and there they will find links to various different tutorials, write-ups and videos.

There is also a submission form so you can help increase the amount of knowledge aggregated there.


Upcoming events

Two events I am very excited about, one very soon and one in a few months:

London Gastronomy Seminars

This month is the second in the London Gastronomy Seminars series.  The title is “From plant to cup: flavour in coffee & wine” and I am presenting along with Jamie Goode.

Those of you into wine will know Jamie from and his blog is great too.  I saw Jamie present a few months ago and I learned a great deal, and hugely enjoyed his presentation.  The bar is set high for me, and I am going to work hard to make my part of the presentation as interesting and useful as I can.

If you are in London then do come down, feel free to ask me awkward and difficult questions and drink some coffee and some wine!

From plant to cup: flavour in coffee and wine
21 January 2010, 7pm
Senate House, University of London (directions are here)
(Hosted by the Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study)

Tickets (£10)

SCAA Symposium

I’m also very excited about being involved in the SCAA Symposium this year.  I helped out in one of the workshops last year, but due to WBC commitments couldn’t get as involved as I would have liked.  This year’s event looks amazing and I am delighted to be attending.

I am taking part in the first session alongside some big names in coffee.  I hope I can bring something of value to the discussion! The program looks amazing and I look forward to catching up with a lot of people there.

See you at one of these soon I hope!

London Coffee Jobs website

Today I created a simple website with a simple goal:

Connect quality focused cafes/coffee roasters/coffee suppliers with potential staff.

I get a lot of emails, and meet a lot of people looking for barista jobs in London, and I know shops are always looking but I forget to keep track of exactly who.  The idea of the site is very simple – shops can easily create a listing for a range of positions and hopefully we can drive people towards it who are looking for jobs.

There is the potential to monetize it but I’d rather it worked, so at some point I might put on a small posting fee to cover the cost of the website.  If there is sufficient demand I might open it up to outside of London, to maybe the whole of the UK.  Thoughts on this are welcome?  In order for it to be useful then it needs people to know about it and use it.  I’d really appreciate people’s support on this one.

London Coffee Jobs

I know I am technically biased when it comes to coffee in London but the site is completely neutral and open to anyone, I won’t be moderating/editing unless there is some genuine misuse/spam.