Best of Berlin: Coffee & Chocolate Part 1

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Berlin has more specialty coffee shops than it’s possible to visit in a week, nevermind a long weekend and with that in mind calling this a best of is a little bit on the misleading side. Berlin’s passion for specialty coffee is fairly insatiable and so if you’re going to visit you’re also going to have to decide which establishments you really want to visit and which ones it’s possible to see while taking in a wealth of culture that stretches from art to music to history to architecture and a spectacular amount of national traditions. Given the ridiculous amounts of things to see and do, here are a few of the many places I managed to have the pleasure of visiting on our trip to Berlin. Continue reading

A Coffee Tour: Bologna e Venezia

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Bologna and Venice are both old towns with a wealth of historic culture, but they’re both distinctly different. One a university town full of youth, progressive ideals and a love of food and the other a maritime powerhouse full of beauty, canals and tourists. They wouldn’t be Italian though, without a love of espresso and chocolate and both help to cater to their devotees in different ways. Bologna providing traditional Italian coffeebar culture to its discerning patrons and Venice providing the locals with a very Italian respite from the heavy impressions of non native feet. If you look closely, it’s not too hard to find these hidden gems as you explore the cities history and culture.

Starting in Bologna and getting in late, we arose in the morning to head out for our first introduction to northern Italian coffee.  Continue reading

Pump Street Bakery Jamaica Bachelor’s Hall Estate 56% Milk & Indonesia Raja Batak Coffee 91.5/100

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This bar features a combination of cocoa beans from Bachelor’s Hall Estate in Jamaica and a honey processed coffee roasted by Monmouth Coffee Company from Raja Batak in Indonesia. The predominantly Trinitario beans with some Criollo and Forastero are grown by Desmond Jadusingh on the Bachelor’s Hall Estate, which sits below the Blue Mountains of the St Thomas Parish on the south eastern end of Jamaica. The coffee comes from Raja Batak growing various cultivars near Lake Toba in northern Sumatra. Bringing all these ingredients together Pump Street Bakery combine them at their bakery in the small Suffolk coastal town of Orford in order to create another of their marvellous inclusion bars. Continue reading

Best of Oslo: Coffee Part 2

Hendrix Ibsen

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Just a step outside of Oslo’s Mathallen building is a coffee shop that owes its name to Henrik Ibsen a Norwegian playwright and poet and the universally beloved Jimi Hendrix, which I guess speaks of both home and music a theme that encompasses this cafe. Entering the place, it feels like a hangout space, walls lined in equal parts by records, art and bags of retail coffee beans, with nothing looking out of place. Continue reading

Best of Oslo: Coffee Part 1

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There’s a dedication to coffee in Oslo that you don’t often see in other cities, where the coffee itself is the thing that is respected and revered. At times it feels like you’re more likely to find a specialty coffee shop than you are a second wave coffee chain and while you might find coffeeshops selling cocktails, tea and even records, the main focus is always on the coffee. There’s no avocado instagram lifestyle with coffee as the afterthought here, just seasonally roasted coffee and casual but informed service. In a country where the Janteloven is still heavily woven into their culture these coffeeshops might downplay their successes and achievements, but with Norwegians drinking more coffee than everyone except the Finnish, it’s maybe not surprising to find that they place it on such a high pedestal.

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Taylor & Bennett 70% Dark Chocolate Coffee & Cacao Nibs 87.5/100

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A collaboration between Leeds chocolate makers Taylor and Bennett and North Star Coffee Roasters, this bar is a combination of 70% couverture and North Star’s Columbia Augustino forest coffee topped with cacao nibs. Made by Dan Bennett and James Taylor, this bar features packaging from GF Smith Papers made up of 50% cup fibres from reclaimed single-use coffee cups. Continue reading

Åkesson’s Brazil Fazenda Sempre Firme 75% Forastero Cocoa & Coffee Nibs 90.5/100

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In April 2009, Bertil Åkesson and his Brazillian partner Dr. Angelo Calmon de Sa, purchased the historic Fazenda Sempre Firme in Bahia, Brazil. This 120 ha cocoa plantation is right in the middle of the Mata Atlantica, a wild forest on the east coast of Brazil. Here they grow parasinho beans, a variety of forastero cocoa, notorious in Brazil for its fine flavour. Continue reading