Barista Diaries: The View From The Hoppers – pt 1


Here at Baltzersen’s we don’t just like to make great coffee; we also like to consume a few drops when we get the chance and share what we have discovered.  The capital of England is considered by many to be the Coffee Capital of the world, with more high-class coffee shops than you can shake a large teaspoon at. While Paul has put down a few of his thoughts in a previous blog, the following effort represents my two krones worth. What follows is a tale of three types of coffee, two fine eateries and one thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

A Tale of Three Types of Coffee

To celebrate my better half’s PhD graduation, we arranged a two-day trip based on a simple plan. Yue picked one major tourist destination for each day; we constructed a route to each of them that contained ample opportunities to indulge in some serious hot beverage quality-control research (I am extremely fortunate to have a partner who is also a hot-drinks enthusiast; although she is tea yin to my coffee yang). Throw a couple of eateries and somewhere to lay our heads for the night into the mix; and the result was a recipe for success that even our wonderful bakers would have been proud of. The only slight downside was that the instructions for this recipe included adding plenty of water at an early stage…

The Aeropresses

After arriving at King’s Cross bright and early, the skies decided to become distinctly less bright than we were; and consequently we were drenched on the way to Workshop Coffee’s main branch on Clerkenwell Road. Upon arrival we were in immediate need of warm liquid comfort, and a fantastic Ethiopian Duromino immediately caught my eye – I ordered it as an Aeropress.


An Aeropress is not a device for getting bubbles out of chocolate bars, but rather a vacuum-produced filter coffee. Quite simply, by filtering the coffee in such a way; more impurities from the air are kept out and more of the wonderful flavours are kept in (for further details you can read our previous blog on filter coffee).

Ethiopia is thought to be the ancestral home of coffee and their beans are renowned for their light fruity notes and floral overtones.  What made this particular coffee stand out for me is that it also had a gentle honeydew edge that beautifully complemented the subtle flavours of lemon and elderflower. The final result was a wonderfully light and balanced coffee that made the soaking we received seem worthwhile.

Given that Aeropress is my favourite way of drinking filter coffee; it seemed inappropriate to only have one during the course of the weekend. Therefore, at our final weekend destination, ‘Notes’ just off Trafalgar Square, I sampled a Gathaitai from Kenya.


As is fairly typical for Kenyan coffees; this one carried fairly strong citrus flavours with mild summer fruit overtones. The final result was a very pleasing coffee, but for my money the Duromino came out ahead; and so we made a quick return visit to Workshop in order to pick up supplies.

The Espressos

A wise barista once told me that the hardest coffee drink to make is an espresso. This is because, ‘there are no hiding places for mistakes’. She also told me that if you want to get the true essence of a coffee’s flavours, then getting right back basics is by far the best way. It was with these words (and that wonderful Duromino) spinning through my mind that we headed to the world-famous ‘Caravan’ in Central London; in order to put theory into practice; and to sample what we had been informed would be some extraordinary food.

Upon arrival, though, we were told that there was a half-hour wait for a table. However, this was no inconvenience because there was a wonderful World Food and Drink Festival taking place right outside the premises. It also just so happened that one of the stalls was ‘Noble Espresso’; a coffee cart that had been recommended to us, but which we had thought would be closed that day.


‘Noble’ consists of a young, enthusiastic and up-and-coming team of baristas; who gave me a delightful Ethiopian Bokasso to sample. With its rich fruity flavours of limes, summer berries and apricots, we both concluded that this was one espresso with no mistakes to hide. Quite simply, it was by far the best aperitif that I have ever had and set me up very nicely for lunch.

Check in next week for Paul’s concluding post, where he’ll explore some Scandinavian-inspired cuisine, The Flat Whites and more.

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3 Responses to Barista Diaries: The View From The Hoppers – pt 1

  1. Pingback: Barista Diaries: The View From The Hoppers - pt 2 - Baltzersens

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