Specialty coffee culture in Portugal: Luso Coffee Roasters

Portugal is famous for its coffee culture; drinking coffee is an important part of every day life across the country. Cafes are present everywhere you can think of, right down to the most remote villages.  However, the specialty coffee industry has recently begun to emerge in Portugal with a handful of specialty coffee roasters and places serving specialty coffee; the industry is clearly growing.

Mesa325 Portugal Specialty Coffee

Inside Mesa325 – specialty coffee for sale

As I mentioned in a previous post about coffee culture in Portugal,  there are a number of specialty coffee businesses concentrated in the big cities for example: in Lisbon (e.g. Fabrica Coffee Roasters, Copenhagen Coffee Lab); and in Porto (e.g. Vernazza, Luso Coffee Roasters, Combi, Mesa 325, BOP, and the Coffee Room). On a recent trip to Porto I had the chance to explore some of these places, and coffee culture more generally in Portugal.

I’m interested how the specialty coffee industry is developing in Portugal given it is a country where coffee culture is so embedded in the lifestyle, and the particular style of coffee (espresso with sugar) is so popular. While in Portugal I had the chance to meet up with Diogo Amorim, founder of Luso Coffee Roasters to talk about specialty coffee culture in Portugal, and about running a specialty coffee roaster business.

Luso Coffee Roaster Portugal Specialty CoffeeLuso Coffee Roaster Sugar Portugal Specialty CoffeeLuso Coffee Roasters is a micro-roaster based outside Porto. There are a variety of coffees on offer including a blend that is designed to appeal somewhat to Portuguese tastes for coffee (the Viriato blend). Importing the beans from a range of countries they are then roasted on demand. Luso has a coffee cart which is used at some events, and there are ambitions for a site in Porto to sell Luso Coffee in the future, but for now it is available and from a variety of places in Porto. I had actually tried some coffee from Luso the previous day in Mesa325; a lovely smooth coffee via V60. While talking to Diogo we tried some of the Viriato blend, and unlike with standard espresso from Portugal, you really don’t need sugar with this one (although Luso does have sugar available – with a helpful hint on the back).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Demand from tourists, and those who have travelled abroad, seem to be key drivers of specialty coffee growth in Portugal. When you consider the locations of where specialty coffee is on offer in Portugal this makes sense, either in the centre of cities, or relatively close to hotels where tourists might stay (I found specialty coffee on offer outside of Porto, which I will explore in another blog post soon). A potential barrier for a broader consumer base for specialty coffee in Portugal (as in many other markets) is price. A typical espresso in Portugal can cost as little as 0.50. But as Diogo, and many other people who work in the specialty coffee industry have pointed out you are paying for high quality coffee with specialty coffee. Will specialty coffee ever become mainstream in Portugal? Only time will tell, but for now, there are an emerging number of coffee businesses that are worth exploring.

 

Posted in Cafe Culture, Coffee, coffee culture, Consumers, Portugal, Roasters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Urban development and coffee shops: the end of the road for a coffee shop in Birmingham

I learned recently from an article in the Birmingham Mail that one of the first specialty coffee shops in Birmingham, 6/8 Kafe on Temple Row, is to close down after the building it inhabits is to be transformed into a shower complex for workers who cycle in to offices nearby. 


The multi-award winning 6/8 Kafe which opened in 2011 is considered a pioneer in bringing specialty coffee to Birmingham. While you can now wander around Birmingham and have a good choice of coffee shops from the independents such as Quarter Horse, 200 Degrees, Yorks and every coffee chain you can think of (including the Canadian chain Second Cup), this was not always the case. More than just a coffee shop, this place was also important for local artists and musicians, with frequent events being held at the cafe. This isn’t the end for 6/8 Kafe as it does have another outlet in Millenium Point, but it marks the end of an era for many people who visit this cafe, and have made memories here. 


More than this it marks a change in urban development patterns. In many places coffee shops are often seen as symbols of urban development or gentrification. In this case there’s a new wave of development that is even pushing out the coffee shop. For many independent coffee shops, the cost of rent in retail centres can be too high to be viable. Will this mean in the future that city centres become the domain of coffee shop chains that can stand the high rent prices, and can claim the central real estate locations, with independents having a greater presence as you move out of city centres and into the suburbs?  In any case, this an interesting example of how urban development doesn’t always lead to a growth of coffee shops, but can also lead to their demise. 

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Exploring Coffee and Cafe Culture in Portugal

When I first visited Portugal I was at a stage in my life when I drank a lot of vanilla lattes, the odd espresso and americano, but mostly vanilla lattes, and when I travelled to Portugal my partner had explained that they didn’t really do vanilla lattes in Portugal, coffee was just coffee. There was at the time, no Costa Coffee in Portugal and the only branches of Starbucks were in Lisbon. When in a branch of Armazém do caffè (the closest thing to a Costa/Starbucks-like café at the time) I ordered what I thought was a vanilla latte, it turned out I’d ordered an iced vanilla latte – close enough. I soon adapted to the Portuguese way of drinking coffee anyway.

Coffee in Portugal

Coffee culture is ingrained in the everyday life, culture and history of Portugal. The Portuguese were crucial actors in expanding the coffee industry into what it is today with Portuguese colonists introducing the coffee plant to Brazil. There isn’t space here to explore the rich history of Portuguese coffee culture, but I will write about this more at some point soon.

Drinking coffee in Portugal is an everyday part of life, with cafés found almost on every street, and espresso being the most common drink.  Coffee is significantly cheaper to drink out of the home, than it is in the UK. An espresso wouldn’t usually cost you more than €1 and in most cases is closer to €0.50. If you ask for a coffee (um café) an espresso is what you’d be served, although there are regional variations for different coffees too. If you were in Porto and wanted an espresso you’d order um bica, while in Lisbon you’d order um cimbalino (named after the La Cimbali espresso machines).

Espresso in Portugal

They have a range of coffees with milk in too – I often have um pingo (an espresso with a dash of milk) or uma meia de leite (around half coffee/half milk – the closest thing I’ve had to a latte). There are actually a wide range of variations of the espresso based drink, some of which are explored on the Salt of Portugal and Emma’s House in Portugal blogs.

Cafés in Portugal are literally everywhere, not just in your retail centres but spread throughout the neighbourhoods too, even in the most remote places. Often cafés will have a branding for the coffee they serve somewhere on the outside such as Delta, Nicola, Sical, Buondi, or Café  Brasileira. These types of traditional Portuguese cafés often have a range of baked goods served there as well. My favourite café in Portugal is just a small café at the base of a block of flats in a residential area. Actually, I don’t really go there for the coffee, I go there for the croissants, freshly baked – one thing you’ll notice in Portuguese cafés is that the range of cakes and pastries usually makes the options from Costa/Starbucks look pathetic (it’s not just about pastel de nata in Portugal)!

The long history of cafés in Portugal means like in many European cities there are some cafés which have a long history:

  • Café Nicola in Lisbon an art deco style which opened in the late 18th century, and to its current location in 1929.
  • Botequim in Lisbon was opened in 1968 by the Portuguese writer Natália Correia.
  • A Brasileria in Lisbon opened in 1905, and is famous for being frequented the Portuguese Poet Fernando Pessoa.
  • Café Guarany in Porto, opened in 1933 (and underwent restoration in 1994), and according to the website was known as the musicians coffee shop. In addition to the food and drink, they do hold music events including traditional Fado music.
  • Café Progresso in Porto was founded in the early 19th century.
  • Café Majestic in Porto, opened in 1921 and is considered one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. Opened in 1921.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I first started to look for cafés to visit in Portugal, most of the ‘top cafés in Porto/Lisbon’ would feature these kinds of cafés which were important landmarks in the city. However, things have started to change, with the emergence of a wider range of café types becoming popular particularly in the larger cities.

These two lists of cafés that are ‘good to read in’ feature quite a few interesting spots:

Starbucks have around 10 branches around the Lisbon region, while Costa Coffee have a couple of branches around Porto and the Algarve. The coffee shop chain in Portugal I found the closest to these types of coffee shops was Armazém do caffè which has branches across a broader spread of the country, compared to the other chains (see below).Coffee Shops in Portugal

Then in one of my last trips to Porto I discovered Moustache near Clérigos Porto which seemed much closer to the Starbucks type of coffee experience than in many Portuguese cafés. The menu includes the range of coffees plus Frappuccino type drinks, as well as a range of baked goods, including natas, of course! The coffee I’ve had here though is definitely better than most chain coffee shops I have been to and what I liked about this place was that it sought to engage with its community in different ways, holding various events in the café space.

The concept of working in cafés is not new, however with the rise of more freelance work and the ‘gig economy’ many people are turning to cafés as places to work from. I have written a bit about working and co-working in cafes from a UK context, but even in Portugal it has been acknowledged that there is a demand for places for people to work from outside of the office. Portoalities provides a guide to the best cafes to work from in Porto (and if you’re interested a list of co-working offices too).

Specialty Coffee in Portugal

There are a growing range of cafés in Portugal, with more independent cafés and specialty coffee shops that focus not only on the type of food and drink they serve, but the aesthetic of the café too. It’s not until recently that specialty coffee shops have made much of an appearance, but the specialty coffee scene does seem to be gathering pace. Brian from Brian’s Coffee Spot visited last year and tried out some of Porto’s new additions including BOP and Mesa 325 in Porto:

  • BOP a café bar where there is a brew bar, and the coffee used is from Vernazza. More than a place which focuses on coffee, it also has a passion for music and there are record players for you to listen to the large collection of LP’s they have behind the counter. They also have a pretty good menu if you’re looking for food too!
  • Mesa 325, who also use Vernazza, and in addition to the brew methods for making coffee also serve Vietnamese coffee which I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else in cafés in Porto.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These are both excellent examples of the new types of coffee shops appearing in Portugal, but the specialty coffee presence in Porto goes well beyond these two places. Oporto Cool explores 12 cafés which provide more than a place to get your espresso hit – from the specialty coffee shops that focuses on brunch and cocktails too (Zenith), to the ‘coffee garden’ combining specialty coffee and health food (Noshi Coffee) which opened this year. Fraulein Anker has written a Porto Hipster coffee guide too.

There’s plenty of activity too in the capital city Lisbon with the Copenhagen Coffee Lab being one of the best known specialty coffee spots in the city bringing a bit of Nordic coffee culture to the city. There is also Fábrica Coffee Roasters a café and roaster, now with two outlets and according to their website a coffee truck coming soon. Like Porto, more specialty coffee shops are emerging such as WISH slow coffee house and Montana Lisboa as highlighted by Matous Vins on European Coffee Trip.

And in Lisbon the combination for coffee and cycling that we’ve seen here in the UK has a presence too in the  BI-CA Sandwich Cafe, where you can also hire bicycles here (in Porto for a combination of bicycles and coffee there is the Urban Cicle Café).

Following the trend of having coffee shops in flagship stores as has been seen recently in London and other major cities (e.g. the pop up coffee bar by Has Bean roaster in the clothing store UniQlo), The Feeting Room, a footwear and clothing store in Porto now has its own coffee shop. ‘The Coffee Room’, located on the top floor  is a specialty coffee shop dedicated to third wave coffee culture, which serves coffee (single origin Guatemalan from a roaster in Porto according to this article from Evasoes), and panoramic views of the city.

In terms of following other coffee trends, it appears that Portugal has also taken on the coffee in a cone concept in a series of Delta Q stores in Lisbon and Porto.

The majority of these new cafés that are embracing specialty coffee, or a more third wave style of coffee shop tend to be in the city centre, targeting young urban audiences and tourists too. It will be interesting to see if these start to spread out into some of the neighbourhoods too over time.

An exception to this at the minute would be Combi Coffee which is actually a coffee truck which can be found in various locations, but often near the beaches of Espinho, just south of Porto. This article from the Coffee Universe suggests they will have a coffee shop in Porto at some point soon as well. Here the founder of Combi Coffee explains: “Portugal is a place where coffee and espresso are synonyms, so all the Portuguese care about is a full bodied creamy espresso shot regardless of the origin or variety of the coffee beans. We are actively trying to change that. Slowly but steadily.” (Coffee Universe, 2016)

In my research I’m interested in all types of cafes, from the historical landmarks of the city, the traditional corner neighbourhood café bakery, to the specialty coffee shops.  It would be interesting at some point to map the different types of cafés in Portugal to see the extent of the café into Portuguese communities, and how these differ across the country.

If you know of a café in Portugal that you find is an important place or interesting space, then do get in touch.

Coffee Roasters

Roasting coffee in Portugal is not a new concept, the large coffee companies such as  Delta or Sical have been present for decades, but specialty coffee roasters are more scarce. Although much like the specialty coffee shops, more roasters are emerging too. I’ve already mentioned Fabrica Coffee Roasters in Lisbon but a couple of others worth exploring too are:

  • Vernazza Coffee Roasters, based in Maia and established in 2015, now has coffee in many of the emerging specialty coffee spots around Porto as well as restaurants too. The owner of Vernazza recognises that specialty coffee is not yet a widespread commodity in Portugal yet: it’s part of our strategy to be a specialty coffee, and to be placed together with nice things and places, where there is the concern with the detail; we know we are not a coffee for the masses . According to this article Vernazza hopes to have its own café in Porto at some point.
  • Luso Coffee Roasters based just south of Porto, has a range of coffees including the Viriato Blend which is roasted to ‘have the notes of a traditional Portuguese espresso’. I wonder if this could be the way to entice more Portuguese consumers to specialty coffee? In an article from the Coffee Universe the founder of Luso Coffee Roasters acknowledges the barriers for the specialty coffee market in Portugal, in particular the price of coffee, but highlights that increased tourism is providing opportunities to open new cafés and there is a rising curiosity about specialty coffee.

Portugal is a country with a long coffee history, and the café has, and remains to be, an important place in communities across the country. But like many other countries, the coffee culture is changing, and with it the emergence of different types of cafés, and coffee businesses are emerging. As has been noted by the Perfect Daily Grind Portugal is ‘embracing third wave culture with enthusiasm and vigor’ but will Portugal ultimately see a widespread shift from its traditional espresso culture, or will the specialty coffee remain a niche market catering to young urbanites and tourists? Only time will tell and from a research perspective, it’s fascinating to explore. If you know of a new or interesting café or coffee roaster in Portugal that I haven’t mentioned here, please do get in touch.

Porto

 

Posted in Cafe Culture, coffee culture, community, Europe, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Spaces of Community: Dynamics in the cafe industry – Research Summary

The ‘Cafe Spaces’ blog was originally established to support the activities around the research project ‘Spaces of Community: exploring dynamics in the café industry‘, which sought to explore the growth and development of the café industry in the UK, and examine the role of cafés in different urban spaces.

There are a number of publications which stem from the intial project, some of which are available now, others which are still with publishers, or in progress. In the meantime, I have produced a short research summary which highlights some of the key points that emerged in the research.

Spaces of Community Report Cafe Industry

As I expected the blog has become much broader than just this project, to include issues from across the coffee and café industry, exploring café cultures from across the globe, and I now have a wide range of pathways to take the research next.

Posted in Cafe Culture, Coffee, coffee culture, Commentaries, community, reading, Reports, UK, Use of cafe spaces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Learning about coffee and coffee shops: Podcasts

Recently I’ve been writing a few blog posts which highlight where I learn about coffee, cafes, and coffee cultures. Previous posts have covered books, magazines, and blogs/websites. Today’s post introduces some of the podcasts I listen to, some of them are still active, while others have finished but are still useful repositories of coffee knowledge.

The Coffee Podcast: ‘People-focused coffee talk’ produced by Weston Peterson and Jesse Hartman. Moving beyond talking about the café and the coffee, these podcasts explore some of the people that make the coffee industry what it is today. Beyond this, the podcast covers a whole range of issues related to coffee from home brewing, sustainability, to grinding and roasting. Now on Episode 81 there’s a huge amount of material here. I particularly like their most recent podcast on ‘What is Specialty Coffee?’ where they talk to the SCA Executive Director Ric Rhinehart.

The SprudgeCast produced by the co-founders of the specialty coffee website, Sprudge, Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen explores the world of specialty coffee. There are now 40 Episodes, each covering a range of specialty coffee topics. The most recent was recorded at an evening event at Prufrock in London during the London Coffee Festival and they talk to a number of guests about their activities in specialty coffee.  Often out on location, these podcasts literally bring you a world of specialty coffee, including: Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Dublin as well as a number of locations in the US.

In the Orange Cactus Coffee podcasts Mike and Jake explore a range of issues in specialty coffee. Here there are two types of podcast: the full episodes covering topics from brewing tips, coffee and cafes reviews to what a ‘dream café’ would look like; as well as the Daily Ristretto with shorter topical discussions from third wave water to types of kettles.  They also have a series of videos about coffee too. I discovered these guys after some conversations on twitter, and I was really happy to hear they like reading my work too – after they mentioned the blog in a recent episode of the Daily Ristretto on Coffee In Neighborhhoods.

In addition to James Hoffman’s Jim seven podcast, he has also produced the Coffee Jobs Podcast where he talks to a range of people who work in coffee about their lives in coffee, how they got there, and advice they have for people working in the coffee industry. In each episode, James explores a different career in coffee, including: Jenni Bryant(Market Lane), Ellie Hudson (Specialty Coffee Association of America), Mikaela Wallgren & Klaus Thomsen (Coffee Collective), Laila Wilbur (Cherry Street), Charles Babinski (G&B Coffee), Anne Lunell (Koppi Coffee), Michael Phillips (Blue Bottle Coffee), Gwilym Davies (Prufrock) and Colin Harmon (3FE).

Tamper Tantrum is more than a podcast really, as they say on their website – it’s a platform dedicated to broadcasting stories from interesting people in the coffee industr. It’s been described as “one of the world’s premier platforms for coffee bickering, brainstorming, and live speaking engagements”. The podcasts talk about everything you can imagine in the coffee industry with various special guests, and often related to live events (the videos attached to the podcasts are on the website too). Now with 78 episodes there’s quite a back catalogue to get through. I particularly like the episodes on the business models of coffee roasteries, the Business of Brewing from the Manchester Coffee Festival, the debate about Barista Competitions, and Barista Attitude & Third Wave Shops.

Boss Barista is a podcast produced by Jasper Wilde and Ashley Rodriguez, connected to the website Permanent Barista, which explores the experiences of and issues related to working as a coffee service professional. From discussions about age discrimination in the coffee industry, identity in coffee, to discussions of self-care working in the coffee industry, this podcast is great for beginning to explore the human side of the coffee industry.

Cat & Cloud produced by Jared Truby and Chris Baca, is a website which acts as a platform for a number of creative projects, one of which is the coffee podcast. They also have their own coffee, I’m intrigued by the blend called ‘the answer’. I particularly like the episodes SCAA then and SCA now, 1st, 2nd and 3rd waves, Social media and authenticity, and How do we benefit? Dial in.

Coffee Awesome, as the tag line says, is a podcast about coffee. Produced by Bjørg Brend Laird, who through interviews and discussions from across the coffee industry, explores a range of coffee topics from the geography and production of coffee, to the business of cafes, as well as brewing techniques, and the science of coffee.

 

Boise Coffee, is a website produced by Colin Mansfield, that reviews and discusses, coffee, brewing methods and other coffee-related topics. There is also a podcast which tends to discuss more of the general topics around coffee, from the history of Irish Coffee, cities and their coffee cultures, to developing latte art and perfecting espresso.

 

 

The Right Roast isn’t really a podcast, instead it’s a series of videos taking you on a global adventure with coffee. I discovered the site when looking for some information about coffee culture in Japan, and the two part series on Tokyo Coffee Scene caught my attention (Part 1, Part 2) – but there are lots of great insights here from all over the world.

 

 

Coffee is Me, produced by Valerian, is a podcast about all things coffee. Like many coffee podcasts this one has a website too which provides a lot more content beyond the audio itself. I particularly like the episodes ‘What does a Rwandan Barista dream of?’. and ‘Coffee in Iran’.

 

 

The AudioCafe: for Baristas, coffee houses, coffee lovers is a podcast produced by Levi Andersen, which explores different issues in the specialty coffee world. Like many of the other podcasts, the topics covered are wide ranging from how to source green coffee, to considering barista training in a coffee house, and with 61 episodes to get through so far, there’s plenty to get through. I particularly like the episode on baristas as global brand ambassadors (no.26), and the journey to the World Barista Championship (no.24).

The Coffee Geek podcast which no longer has new episodes being produced still holds a wealth of information and is worth listening to. The majority of the episodes were produced from 2005-2009, although there are a few in later years. For a window into how coffee culture developed, particularly in the US in the mid to late 2000s, this is a great place to start.

 

 

I Brew My Own Coffee hosted by Brian Betke & Bryan Schiele talk about everything related to making coffee at home (and topics related to this from across the coffee industry). Now up to Episode 52 this podcasts covers issues from Third Wave Water, Home Espresso Basics, Sourcing and Seasonality, to Pour Over Brewing. I particularly like the episode which talks about the Aeropress which has pretty much become my standard method of making coffee at home.

 

So this is where I listen and learn about coffee and the coffee industry. Are there any other podcasts about coffee, cafes and coffee culture that I’ve missed and really should be listening to?

 

 

Posted in Cafe Culture, Coffee, coffee culture, Commentaries, General, Podcasts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neighborhood and Coffee: Starbucks in Japan

Starbucks, the global coffee chain company is starting to try and do things a little differently. Famous for introducing its stores with their similar style and operations across the globe, with increasing competition the company has had to think about how it can move with the times and have a wider offering of store types. In some markets the company has sought to introduce luxury ‘Reserve’ stores and roasteries (one is planned for Tokyo in 2018) with a wider range of coffee preparation methods, and the offering of a more premium Starbucks experience (Kell, 2014).

Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks said that he wanted to make Starbucks stores a destination in themselves:

“People are still longing for connection, and a sense of community, perhaps more so now that they are spending more time at their computers, or working from home” (Foroohar, 2014).

In addition, the company has suggested it intends to open more express outlets, mobile coffee vans, and more specialised retail outlets (Foroohar, 2014). Starbucks has had a presence in Japan since 1995 , and now has over 1,100 stores across the country. More recently it has introduced a new store format – Neighborhood and Coffee.

Neighborhood and Coffee – Jiyugaoka,Tokyo. Image credit: Dave Powell – Shoot Tokyo

Unlike many Starbucks stores which are located in urban centres, these stores tend to be located more in the neighbourhoods where people live – designed to be your local neighborhood coffee shop.

Inside the Neighborhood and Coffee Store in Okusawa,Tokyo. Image Credit: Dave Powell – Shoot Tokyo

They are designed with plenty of seating, to be welcoming and more of a place where you would want to go to sit, relax and meet people – one store in Kobe even has a special rooms that allows customers to bring their dogs in too.  Unlike the usual Starbucks stores there is less of the bright green branding, instead focusing on more subtle branding and lighter colours.  The menu is these stores is a little different, focusing on the Starbucks Reserve coffee, and they also served different food as well as beer and wine.

Inside the Neighborhood and Coffee Store in Okusawa,Tokyo. Image Credit: Dave Powell – Shoot Tokyo

For some people this move by Starbucks indicates recognition of a new wave of espresso culure in Japan, and for others its a sign that Starbucks have realised they need to do something different – their standard stores are ubiquitous and in order to continue to expand they need to provide a higher quality offering of coffee, and a different kind of space. Given the rise in specialty coffee in many countries, particularly in the UK, it will be interesting to see if this concept appears anywhere else. I noticed on a recent trip to London for the London Coffee Festival that one of the Starbucks stores had already opted for the branding without the usual round green mermaid logo, instead going for the lighter wooden look.

Starbucks London

Starbucks, London

References

Foroohar, R. (2014) Inside Starbucks’ Radical New Plan for Luxury Lattes. Time,  05/12/14.

Kell, J. (2016) Starbucks sales jump leads to confidence in high end coffee strategy. Fortune, 03/11/2016.

Note: Thanks to Dave Powell from Shoot Tokyo for permission to use some of his images from his visits to Neighborhood and Coffee stores in Tokyo.

Posted in Cafe Culture, Cafe types, coffee culture, community, Starbucks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The language of coffee: latte art

I found out recently thanks to a tweet from Bex, author of the coffee blog Double Skinny Macchiato, that ‘Latte Art’ is one of the new entries to the Oxford English Dictionary:

“latte art: pictures of patterns made by skilfully pouring steamed milk onto the surface of a latte or similar coffee drink”

Cortado from Tamper Coffee, Sheffield

It’s a sign that something which was once seen by some as a novelty in the coffee industry, has become part of the mainstream. For many consumers visiting a coffee shop, the quality of the artistic milk foam production can be as important (and in some cases more important), than the taste of the drink. This is not always the case, and much to the frustration of many people I’ve spoken with in the cafe industry who are keen to stress the important of looking beyond the coffee foam topping. While latte art is a great way for baristas to make their products look great, good coffee is about far much more. But then in the time of Instagram and other social media forms where sharing images of your coffee has become so common, interesting latte art forms are a way for cafes to impress customers, and entice them into to try their products. As you’ll note from the definition and image above, latte art is often produced not just on lattes, but on any milk-based drinks!

Latte Art in Caffe D’Arte, Seattle

I first discovered latte art on a coffee crawl while in Seattle back in 2011. It was in Caffe D’arte in which I was shown how to carefully pour the milk to make the lovely leaf pattern which so many people now expect on their coffee. The barista also created a dragon too, but I forgot to take a photograph. He made it look so easy, but it is does require a lot of skill.  I have attempted in the past to create even the simplest of latte art forms, with very little success. The closest I came to a leaf shape was when I was doing the barista training course at Prufrock, but then I was being shown by a leading expert in the coffee industry. Latte art has become a big thing in the coffee industry – there are even world latte art championships and many coffee shops have their own latte art competitions, and many of the coffee training establishments have dedicated sessions on latte art (a quick google search brings a range of course options across the UK). I noticed 200 Degrees in Birmingham which is has its own barista school downstairs runs courses in latte art which I am tempted to have a go at some time to see if I can improve!

A latte art 'swan' in 200 Degrees Birmingham coffee

A latte art ‘swan’ in 200 Degrees Birmingham

At the recent London Coffee Festival I saw Shinsaku Fukayama, a world latte art champion in action. For more latte art creations, have a look at some of the Instagram feeds suggested by Sprudge.

Latte Art at the London Coffee Festival

I have diverted a little from the original point of this blog post which was to highlight how coffee terminology is continuing to gain a presence in the mainstream lexicon. Recently, Roast Magazine, also highlighted that cold brew has been added to dictionary.com:

“Cold brew: 1. the process of steeping coffee grounds of tea leaves in room-temperature or cold water for many hours, producing a concentrate to which more water may be added 2. A cold coffee or tea drink made by this process”

V60 pour-over at home

And after a bit of reading around I found that pour-over had been added to the Oxford English Dictionary earlier this year.

“Pour-over: a method of brewing coffee by manually pouring boiling water through a filter filled with ground coffee beans”

In the same way that the latte being added to the consumer price index back in 2001 was a symbol that particular elements of coffee culture are becoming part of many people’s lives, the addition of coffee vocabulary into dictionaries acts as an indicator of the spread of these coffee forms and features. Given the continued growth of coffee culture (particularly here in the UK), I wonder how many other coffee-related terms are likely to appear over the coming years?

Posted in Cafe Culture, Cafe types, Coffee, coffee culture, Commentaries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Co-working and the cafe: an animation

Back in March I wrote a blog post highlighting some of my key points from a presentation around co-working and the café. Recently I came across a platform, PowToon, which allows you to create animations from presentations. So I thought I’d transform the ideas about co-working and cafes into an animation. It was a relatively easy process to do and a bit of fun compared to preparing the usual powerpoints!

 

 

 

Posted in Cafe Culture, Cafe types, Economic Impact | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK Coffee Week 2017 and Project Waterfall

My initial idea about researching the cafe industry was to focus on the economic and social impact of cafes on their local communities. While the local impact they have is definitely important there are ways in which cafes and the cafe industry is seeking to impact communities much further afield too through UK Coffee Week: ‘a nationwide celebration of coffee that also raises funds for coffee growing communities’.

UK coffee week

UK Coffee Week is a fundraising campaign that involves many coffee shops across the country in order to raise money for Project Waterfall, an initative that works towards improving clean water facilities for coffee growing communities. Since 2011 around £570,000 has been raised to help over 21,000 people. Cafes and related businesses across the country are taking part in different ways from donating a portion of the coffee price to Project waterfall, to holding competitions and workshops. To find out about businesses participating in your area, check this page on the website.

Through particpating in UK Coffee Week you can help have an impact and contribute to improving access to clean water for some of the communities that grow the coffee you enjoy.

UK coffee week

Posted in Cafe Culture, coffee culture, community | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visualizing the London Coffee Festival through twitter

So after several caffeine fuelled days in Old Truman Brewery, the London Coffee Festival is over for this year. You can see some of the images from my visit this year over on my photography blog. For the days I couldn’t attend I’ve been using twitter to get updates on how the festival was going. A quick look at the festival related hashtags shows how clearly twitter is popular among the festival goers. I decided to do a quick analysis of twitter activity at the festival, just to see what the networks of people tweeting would look like. Using Netlytic I created this:

Visualizing London Coffee Festival

Posted in Festivals, Reports, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment