As today was hot, I needed an excuse to leave my desk and venture out of Brixton. But being a hard working, over-conscientious nerd I needed an excuse even my sub-conscious self would buy. So I spread out my Speciality Coffee Map and started plotting.
The Speciality Coffee Map of London is at the moment my spiritual guide to the city, possessing Bible, or Self-Help like qualities, and there is not one command in it I wouldn’t blindly follow. But apart from familiarasing myself with London’s caffeinated streets, I have immersed into London’s literature and history too – and from these books the idea for today’s great escape sprung: for, the day being hot, it was imperative that I’d check out the Monument, i.e. the commemorative pillar that is said to mark the spot where the great fire of London got its spark in the hellish year of 1666.
This fire consumed fifteen of London’s twenty-six wards and destroyed 460 streets with 13 200 houses. Luckily, only six people died. So the Great fire is no laughing matter, but for me one amusing detail in this devastating moment of history is the fact that the fire supposedly started from a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane. Yes, Pudding Lane – how much more innocent could a street name be and still be able to cause such a mayhem?
Indulging myself with these private amusements, hidden behind my cool composure, I trod towards my main target for the day, Curators Coffee.
London coffee shops often shoot me in a state of mild hype (imagine a Duracell bunny in caffeine), and Curators Coffee wasn’t an exception.
First of all, in many London coffee shops there is an extensive menu from which to choose your coffee. Of course, when stepping in you have an idea whether you feel like having a macchiato, a filter coffee, flat white or similar milky concoction, but then, then there’s also the beans to consider: Colombian, Ethiopian, Kenyan…followed by descriptions on picking methods and notes on flavor. And sometimes the coffee shop has various methods for their brews also and heck, your head is just spinning with endless possibilities, and a queue of busy Londoners is forming behind you and here, in a crammed coffee shop you cannot even step to the right side like in escalators and let the busier ones pass by, no, you have to make your mind, and you have to make it quickly.
But luckily in Curators Coffee, two words on the menu saved me from fainting because of too much information going through my already heated brain. And the words were: hot cascara.
I wrote about cascara recently in my post of Kaffeine, and was exalted to meet this new friend of mine again. So, in my mind I promptly ordered this ‘hot cascara’, but at the same time I was thinking how awesome it would be to have cold cascara in this London heat. Well, either the customer service in Curators is more than committed, or, I did actually say out loud what I was thinking, as few moments later I got served not hot, but cold cascara.
Curators Coffee is located in the City, which is one of London’s most historic areas but nowadays also one of London’s most urban, money-making districts, and as I walked up from the Monument towards Cullum Street I passed by hoards of women in tightly fitting dresses balancing on their heels and sipping on their glasses of white wine and men in stripy suits and immaculate white shirts gulping on their pints. Even in my smartest poncho and lace dress I felt slightly out of place, but I still always love the atmosphere in this area where old and new, glossy and gritty, posh and, well, not so posh, mix in that polite way which is only possible in London.
The coffee shop itself is located in a tiny alleyway, but is not in any way tucked away from the crowds – quite the opposite. There were only a few seats indoors but luckily I managed to secure myself a table outside. Here I witnessed a constant flow of customers willing to queue for their after-lunch caffeine fix: a lot of espressos, few macchiatos and milkier options made the espresso machine hiss incessantly, only to be broken by the sharp tap of high heels hurrying back to the office and the sudden shatter of dishes from a nearby lunch restaurant.
But I was not in a hurry. I was enjoying my cold cascara in the hot City, and devouring the sounds of its streets in my poncho and soundless shoes.