It has been a good few months since my last visit to ever-so-amazing Barcelona, but I still remember vividly the best cups of coffee I enjoyed in the city.
Often, in the world of blogs, we tend to hype over all the amazing finds we have made during our extra spectacular travels. So, on the contrary to the typical, today I am going to be a strictly objective blogger, and write about the candidates for Best Independent Coffee Shop in Europe 2016, according to the European Coffee Symposium. The candidates were Dublin’s 3fe, Amsterdam’s Bocca Coffee Roasters and Bath’s Colonna & Small’s, which won the competition.
You know us modern time travellers, tourists and vagabonds, always on a lookout for something to tag with the word ‘authentic’ as if this word magically would render any sight we might stumble upon more valuable, more immemorable, more instagrammable.
My first visit to Porvoo, a historic city some 40 minutes drive from Helsinki, proved to be a very successful trip: red wooden houses aligning a slowly gliding river, cafés and restaurants full of cheery looking customers, tourists groups posing and pointing with their cameras, pretty cobblestoned old town with a cosy feel. What else could a traveller ask for from a coastal Finnish city? Well, in the case of Porvoo, there were also amazing chocolate shops as a bonus.
Which was very convenient as a friend of mine, who likes chocolate and Porvoo, had a birthday coming up. For once, I was going to do well with my gift idea!
Bobo, bohemian bourgeois, throws you right in the middle of all-the-things-Riviera: Sophisticated elegance, self-conscious confidence with a hint of bling-bling luxury. Then, throw a pinch of bohemian into the mix, and you have got a perfect Cannes restaurant: Bobo Bistro.
After two years of its opening, Established Coffee has really, well, established itself as the coffee shop in Belfast.
And I wonder whether the third wave coffee shop was actually named as a giveaway for us poor, unimaginative coffee writers…?
Morning has kicked off in the trendy Helsinki district of Kallio but the coffee shop stays quiet even though eight of its dozen or so tables are occupied by eleven o’clock. Van Morrison’s soft voice floats somewhere at the background, and on the walls, Eric Dolphy and Gene Taylor have frozen in a black and white, pixelated pose. Occasionally cups clink against the saucers and the grinder and espresso machine whizzes and hisses.
As we all know, London is a huge, huge city, with a lot of different and unique areas. So how to choose the 10 best cups of coffee I had the pleasure and joy to sip while in London? Why even to try and do it? Surely there would be better things to do on a Thursday evening you might wonder. Yes, surely there is – but I don’t know what.
“As long as there is good coffee, I am happy.”
Said my sidekick, happily, after a visit to Turku’s CaféArt.
I have recently moved to what is said to be the most beautiful town in Finland, Naantali, after a year in London, where I started to write a book about London’s coffee scene. Needless to say, in London you find any kind of cup of coffee your soul might desire: you get your regular flat whites, innovative derivatives of flat whites (such as Fernandez & Welles stumpy coffee), you get your quick fixes of espressos from roadside shacks, slick urban spaces, decades old Italians, and industrial warehouses alike. You get your luxurious porcelain cups while porches speed pass, and you get your sophisticated mugs with twittering tweeds around.
But all this is only decorum around the main issues, quality coffee.