Early July Oscar and Martin took a little break and headed to Iceland.
Below is Martin's report on the coffee scene there.
Martin on Iceland:
Iceland is famous for it’s geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes, geo thermal baths and its cool capital Reykjavik. But what about the specialty coffee scene? On our road trip around the country we tried to find out more.
On the way into Reykjavik from Keflavik airport we stopped off at a café right on the harbour at Hafnarfjörður.
This place itself had quite a cool vibe with a community hub feel to it. Most of the food here was locally produced. We noticed when we arrived that at most tables, customers were having scones. Clearly we had to try them. They were home made and absolutely delicious. Unfortunately the coffee wasn't as good.
Once in Reykjavik there really is only one place to be which is Reykjavik Roasters. They have three shops of which we visited two.
The first one we visited was quite central near the Hallgrimskirkja, The church with it's impressive stepped concrete facade is Reykjavik's main landmark. The café is on a prominent corner location with a central bar. It has an artisan look with quite a relaxed vibe. We just had lunch so we stopped for a quick but excellent flat white. The roasting is also done from this site.
The next morning we visited one that is a little further out but still in walking distance from the city centre. This café is quite spacious with a nice brew bar and a simple pared-down interior. The baristas were friendly and gave us some tips for our road trip. We started with a filter brewed on the Kalita, followed by a cortado with a cinnamon pastry. The filter was a Guatemalan from the San Antonio Esquipulas farm. Reykjavik Roasters had two coffees on from this farm. That day we had the one with notes of blood orange and dark grapes. We bought a bag of the second coffee of this 0f to take back with us to London to share with our customers in the shop (which had notes of black tea and dark caramel).
Outside of Reykjavik whilst traveling around the ring road, like in other Scandivanian countries batch filter coffee is served everywhere and is half decent at most times, but it can be a bit hit and miss. As we were camping we mainly relied on our Aeropress and the coffee we brought with us (Five Elephant).
There is one place to mentioned: In Akureyri, Iceland’s second town the Akureyri Art Museum has a cafe called Gil Kaffihús, that serves Reykjavik Roaster’s coffee and is worth visiting.
All in all we found that the specialty coffee scene is still quite small. Also in comparison to the local craft beer scene. We found breweries with nice tap rooms in various small towns around the country.
Martin visited and recommends:
Reykjavik Roasters, Kárastígur 1, 101 Reykjavik
Reykjavik Roasters, Brautarholt 2, 105 Reykjavik
Gil kaffihús, Akureyri Art Museum, Kaupvangsstræti, 600 Akureyri
Here is Ching's blog entry on her visit to Stockholm early March
Ching in Stockholm
I came to Stockholm in the beginning of March, chilly air surrounded me.
I walked between small alleyway in Gamla Stan,
Snowflakes were falling down slowly and landed on my winter coat in a gentle way.
I passed by the frozen river and climbed up a few small hills overlooking this city.
I saw the houses with warm colours, boats berthed in the port, the spire of a church.
I went through a busy crowd in city,
And enjoyed spending time in the world’s longest art gallery - underground stations in Stockholm.
When the cold weather made me lose feeling in my fingers,
it was time to go for a hot drink in coffee shop, let’s “fika fika”!!
I first went to Cafe Pascal and had an Oat Latte and Kanelbulle.
The coffee tasted smooth and mild, cinnamon bun was amazing!
The coffee shop was busy when I came there, everyone enjoy their fika time,
A lively atmosphere filled up the house.
For my second coffee I went to Drop Coffeehouse
I tried the El Salvador coffee which the barista recommend.
The beans were roasted by Drop roasters, and had notes of lime juice and white grapes.
The coffee smelled like nut, but tasted fruity.
Whilst I enjoy this lovely coffee, it had started snowing outside,
I watched snow drops on the floor through the glass door,
It seemed like time stopped at this moment,
And made me feel peaceful and comfortable.
Cafe Pascal, Norrtullsgatan 4, 113 29 Stockholm
Drop Coffee Roasters, Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 10, 118 50 Stockholm
A couple of weeks ago one of our baristas, Adrianna, went on a city break to Madrid. In this post she tells us about her favourite spot.
Adrianna in Madrid
Going to Madrid, I wasn’t expecting much from its coffee scene. How surprised I was when I arrived to Malasaña, an alternative and hipster area where I was staying. Searching for a decent coffee shop there turned out to be easier than finding a good tapas place in Madrid (feel free to comment below if you have found that perfect tapas place).
I had landed in the morning so I needed a little nibble and HanSo looked like the place to go. As I entered, only one table was free, which was clearly a sign of outstanding coffee and food. They didn’t disappoint me. I ordered a flat white and a Spanish classic – Pan con Tomate and they were beyond delicious. The flat white was unbelievably smooth and made to perfection. As the side, Pan con Tomate demonstrated there is beauty in simplicity with only a few ingredients – toasted bread, smashed tomato, olive oil, garlic and salt.
My Airbnb was a 5-minute walk from HanSo, so I couldn’t not go there again. The second time I got a Chemex, white mocha and Cilbir (Turkish eggs). My thoughts? You can’t go bad with anything you order in HanSo, whether it’s food or coffee. They do both excellent.
HanSo Cafe, Calle del Pez 20, 28004 Madrid
In this blog entry Oscar is escaping the grey January sky of London in search of some milder temperatures and a bit of sun on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
Oscar on Madeira
Mid January seemed like a perfect time for a little break away from London. The choice fell on Madeira, where temperatures would be around 20 degrees and the island also seemed to have plenty of activities to offer.
Coffee wise, I wasn’t expecting much, after not been able to find any on nearby Tenerife a few years ago (please comment below if you have found a good place on any of the Canary Islands) and made plans to take the Aeropress with me.
However, after doing a bit of research online I found that right around the corner from our Airbnb apartment in the main town, Funchal, Madeira’s first specialty coffee shop called Legs Eleven Coffee Co. had just opened. This was looking promising and so I decided to give it a try before heading out to explore the island.
On my first visit I ordered a yogurt, banana and granola bowl and of course a flat white (coffee by Dark Arts Coffee), followed by a take away espresso.
We had a nice chat with owner Steve, who worked previously as a barista in Melbourne. Everything was spot and a visit to Legs Eleven became a must each day we were on Madeira before heading out on a tours or hikes.
You can find Legs Eleven on a cute cobbled street in Central Funchal, a short walking distance from the main sights. It’s frequented by both travellers and locals working nearby.
This certainly is the place to go for coffee in Funchal!
Whilst exploring Funchal, we took the cable car up to Monte, a lush suburb in the hills 500m up from the Old Town. Here you can find the botanical gardens, a beautiful church and the starting point for the toboggan ride that brings you back down central Funchal!
At one end of the Largo Das Barbosas near the cable car station we found a cute but cool kiosk with the most awesome view. Unfortunately, we arrived late in the afternoon when they were about to close. They use a local roastery but as the coffee machine was already closed and cleaned, we couldn’t try the coffee. We opted for a beer instead and enjoyed the view!
Despite not having tried the coffee this place does deserve a mention as it is just stunning. The kiosk itself has a contemporary feel but in keep with its surroundings. Sitting on it’s terrace you’re overlooking one side of the island from the top. You could just sit there and see the all the way from the top of the mountains, through a green valley, all the way down to the ocean. Just wow!
Legs Eleven Coffee Co., Rua das Prietas 88, Loja 3, Funchal, Madeira
Local Shop, Largo Das Babosas, Monte, Funchal, Madeira
When you think of Oxford, colleges, students and bus loads of tourists come to mind. Not so much on a gloomy December day.
This is the second instalment in our VvW on the road blog, this time co-owner Martin writes about his experience on a day out in Oxford, UK
Oxford by Martin
With a bit of time spare on a weekday close to Christmas, I decided Oxford would be a good place to catch up with an old friend.
We headed to Society Coffee. I had visited one of their stores in Bath in the past, but was keen to check out their Oxford store. Their coffee offering is somewhat similar to what we have in our store in Crouch End, with Origin and Round Hill available. I started with a flat white (made with their house blend from Origin) and as it was close to Christmas the obligatory mince pie. The place is very chilled, with very relaxed music in the background. It seemed lots of people used the place to work from home.
Happy with my first coffee I ordered another coffee, now with their guest espresso by Bailies Coffee Roasters. Without a mince pie this time.
After our second coffee we decided to go for a stroll, hit the Christmas market and had a walk around Oxford’s backstreets. Oxford is a surprisingly nice and atmospheric place to visit on a gloomy December day. No large groups of tourists, and many students have already left for their Christmas break.
We strolled on to the Cowley Road just outside the City Centre. Clearly an area that has undergone some gentrification, and certainly has plenty of places to eat (it was lunch time!). Nevertheless we couldn’t help ourselves and opted for another coffee shop to stop for our lunch. It is in Peloton where the cycling and coffee communities nicely blend into each other, with plenty of hints to the passion for cycling (we loved the little cushions in Belgian, Dutch and World Champion flags).
I opted for some nice avo on toast and together we shared an Ethiopian V60 roasted by James Coffee.
After a further stroll we ended back in the city centre and a Colombian focussed business owner we could not leave Colombia Coffee Roasters at the covered market out of this trip, where we sipped on one final single espresso.
We finished the day with a pint or two at the Turf Tavern a 13th century
-Society Cafe, 12-16 St Michaels Street
-Peloton, 76 Cowley Road
-Colombian Coffee Roasters, 106-107 The Covered Market
Cosy coffee bars scattered across neighbourhoods, world class baristas, and a friendly atmosphere, Copenhagen is a place where coffee resides on cloud nine.
First up to describe their coffee travels are Ching and Alice who both recently visited Copenhagen.
Ching in Copenhagen
One of the reasons I love spending time in coffeeshops is because of the sounds.
Whilst most coffee shops play great music,
it is great to hear the sound of coffee grinders;
the hiss of the espresso machine;
baristas steaming milk;
the clinking of cups and plates and the hum of conversation.
When I'm traveling in a new country, the unfamiliar language and people can make me a little nervous. But as soon as I walk into a coffee shop, the familiar sounds around me in their gentle way, always let me feel safe and at peace.
Alice in Copenhagen
Adventures in a new city is always fun. Whilst I am eager to explore new tastes, new sights and a new culture, I find myself indulging in my pursuit of seeking out speciality coffee shops the most.
Travelling to Copenhagen was no different. Here, I found myself enchanted by the comforting sense of hygge and the specialty coffee scene that exists in the city.
I made a beeline for Coffee Collective, located in Torverhallerne' food market and sampled a Colombian pour over. This location was welcoming and great as I was able to explore the neighbouring food stalls.
Not too far from here, you will find Andersen & Maillard. Upon arrival, Danish wooden benches greet you. As you enter the cafe, an alluring aroma of coffee hits you as you spy a selection of pastries. Inside, is a resident roastery and you can watch baristas working away as you sip on your coffee.
Situated in the meat packing area of the city, I stumbled across Prolog. With elegant artisan cups on display and cushions in the windows, I found myself tempted to stay a while and sample their Gakuyu-ini from Kenya.
Alice and Ching both visited:
-Coffee Collective at Torverhallerne Food Market
-Andersen & Maillard at Nørrebrogade 62
-Prolog at Høkerboderne 16
Ching also visited Coffee Collective at Godthåbsvej