Caffeine and Kicks, at The London Coffee Festival

London Coffee FestivalLondon Coffee Festival 2017

Five. That’s the amount of coffees I can safely consume in the space of one day without wanting to die. Of course I don’t make a habit of this, but sometimes you gotta take one for the team. Such as when the London Coffee Festival rolls round. Every year I prepare myself for a day of caffeine, innovation, and…food? Yes, you heard me right, food. Because the London Coffee Festival has way more going on than just serving up a cup of joe.

London Coffee Festival 2017

Whether you’re into latte art, artisanal coffee, coffee-flavoured alcohol, whatever, LCF has it! Honestly I could just sit down with a bag of coffee beans and smell them all day. But I do like to dig a little deeper into the process every now and again. And that’s part of why I love wandering around LCF and discovering new products, techniques and brands. Including South Korean start-up Cafflano – who are producing the world’s first portable all-in-one pour over coffee maker.

But by far the most fun I had was with Union, and their Ultimate Flavour Challenge. We were given a tray of coffees, and asked to place them with the correct flavour pairings. Now I’m no expert on this, but we got 2/4 correct and I’d like to say that it would have been 100% if Ben hadn’t suggested we change two of the coffees at the last minute. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but maybe I have a future in coffee tasting?

Coffee & Food

Ok I couldn’t do a post without talking about the London Coffee Festival, and their dedication to pairing coffee and food. Two of the things I love most in life, together. This year LCF did not let me down, with the appearance of The Chef’s Table & Restaurant by Grind (the same people behind Shoreditch Grind etc), alongside the White Label Kitchen. And of course a delicious meal wouldn’t be without an equally scrumptious dessert. That’s where Hotel Chocolate and their School of Chocolate came in. Although I would like to also give a shout-out to the companies who were exhibiting but not hosting any events, because you are equally awesome. Especially the Danish Bakery – who you can currently find in Selfridges food hall.

The London Coffee Festival may be over for another year, but you can find year-round coffee love on my Instagram.

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Monocle Cafe – More Than An Instagram Trend?

 

Monocle | Cafe | Nearest Tube: Baker Street / Bond Street | Map

Most of us on Instagram have come across a photo of the Monocle cafe and it’s trendy storefront. And if you haven’t…do you even social media, bro? Seriously, this place is a hive of iPhone activity every time somebody walks by. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s been Instagrammed more times than it’s celebrity neighbour – The Chiltern Firehouse. Now that’s an achievement! And can you blame people when the facade is this lovely?

But wait a minute, isn’t this a cafe? People do actually eat here…right?

Monocle Cafe – More Than an Instagram Trend!

Contrary to popular belief, I have actually eaten at Monocle. I don’t just stop by to take a photo every few weeks. In fact I’ve eaten here several times, and I keep coming back for more. Much like it’s namesake publication, the cafe offers up a variety of eclectic and delectable treats. High quality, authentic Japanese and Scandinavian dishes dominate the menu, alongside cakes, pastries, and a really great drinks menu – (Allpress) coffee, wine, matcha, check!

The interior is ridiculously cool too, with Monocle branded goodies lining the shelves. You’ll always find the latest issue here, and you’re more than welcome to peruse it during your stay. Which is perfect, because you won’t feel pressured to rush here. Nor will you feel ‘out of place’ like some London establishments – cough, hipster cafe, cough – as the clientele varies greatly. The atmosphere is relaxing, and the staff incredibly accommodating. Can I talk it up any more? So go on, venture inside next time you’re nearby. After you’ve taken your Instagram photo, of course.

You can find the Monocle Cafe at 18 Chiltern Street.
Don’t forget to check out more of my Where to Eat in London series.

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Cafe Kitsune Paris: A Love Affair Between Tokyo & Paris

cafe kitsune parisCafe Kitsune Paris | Coffee & Pastries | Metro: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre | Map

What is one to do with a spare afternoon in Paris? Spend it like a true Parisian of course, and lounge around beautiful architecture and gorgeous people, all whilst sipping on a coffee. That’s exactly what VA (Chopstickpanorama) and I decided to do during our whirlwind visit to Paris recently, at Cafe Kitsune Paris.

Cafe Kitsune Paris

We found the cafe located along Galerie de Montpensier. An old arcade which still has it’s original, vintage shop fronts and fittings. Nestled inside an old fabric shop, Maison Kitsune has found the perfect setting for their oh so chic Paris cafe. We took a seat at their outside tables, as inside is pretty cramped and not really made for sitting in. Everything about Cafe Kitsune Paris has been thought out to the last little detail, from the tree lined park, to the signature tables. If you don’t feel like a true Parisian whilst you’re here, I’ll eat my hat!

カフェキツネ – パリ

The cafe boasts a wide selection of coffees and teas to order. I was so pleased to see London based Workshop Coffee Co being used at the cafe – it’s nice to discover a familiar name when travelling. VA and I ordered a flat white and an iced latte – both which made for a good cup of coffee. Cafe Kitsune Paris also offer the occasional pastry too. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to grab some cake, or one of their iconic fox biscuits, which mimics the brands logo (kitsune is Japanese for fox). Hurry up though, Maison Kitsune’s cafes are known for selling out of their food offerings quickly.

How does the Paris cafe compare to the Aoyama, Tokyo cafe?

I personally prefer it. The location and vibe is much more relaxed, and it fits in with the brands aesthetic perfectly. If you’re looking for somewhere with good coffee, delicious food, and a stylish setting, Cafe Kitsune Paris is it.

You can find Cafe Kistune Paris at Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
Unfortunately Filles du Calvaire cafe has now closed, so this is the only remaining Cafe Kitsune in Paris.

Check out more: Travel Diaries & Recommendations

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Tokyo Coffee: Where to Go | Japan Travel Guide

tokyo coffeeTokyo Coffee: Where to Go | Japan Travel Guide

One thing I love to do when I’m abroad is discover new cafes and coffee shops. It’s one of my favourite little luxuries at home, so to do it whilst travelling is a welcomed pleasure. So when I headed back to Tokyo this year I knew I had to find the best places in town. Luckily for me, my good friend Alanna and her husband are coffee fans too. Being the wonderful people they are, they curated us our own Tokyo coffee tour.

Below you’ll find my suggestions from the coffee tour we did together, and a couple I’ve thrown in myself.

Tokyo Coffee Tour: Where to go

  • Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro
    • Visit here if… you like your coffee with minimal fuss, and a chilled vibe.
    • With 4 locations in Tokyo, Onibus is no new name to the Japanese coffee scene. In fact they’re doing so well that they’re making waves in Europe too; they just got back from Berlin, and a collaboration with Bonanza Coffee.
  • Toranomon Koffee, Toranomon
    • Visit here if… you love chemistry, and minimalist surroundings.
    • Toranomon coffee is all about the chemistry behind coffee. They love experimenting (the lab coats are worn for a reason) and are well known for it. You can find them across Japan, and even in Hong Kong.
  • Coffee Valley, Ikebukuro
    • Visit here if… if you care about fresh, simple ingredients.
    • Coffee Valley isn’t that well known, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. The cafe boasts queues for it’s fresh coffee, and delicious food. Don’t worry though, it’s worth the wait!
  • BiRd & rUbY, Sendagaya
    • Visit here if… you want to hang out somewhere unique and cool.
    • Bird & Ruby is tightly nestled in the middle of Sendagaya, on a cross walk, opposite a traditional shrine. Yep you couldn’t get much more Tokyo than that (the perfect mix of old and new). Offering up coffee and paninis, you’ll look effortlessly cool as you sip on your espresso, and flick through the latest issue of Popeye.
  • Sarutahiko, Shibuya
    • Visit here if… you’re out shopping and need a coffee fix.
    • Sarutahiko has a few locations in Tokyo, but the Shibuya branch is a great location if you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle. They have a great selection of coffee, and are super enthusiastic.

Feel free to share your favourite cafes in Tokyo in the comments!

Check out the rest of my Japan Travel Diaries (including Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo) here.

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A Wanted Man Cafe… and Brow Bar Waxing Salon?

a wanted manA Wanted Man | Cafe & Beauty Salon | Website
330 Kings Road, SW3, Chelsea, London

Ever popped by your local cafe and thought you’d get an espresso and a wax to go? No probably not, and whereas the concept may sound a little odd, it’s utterly brilliant. At least that’s what I realised when I stopped by A Wanted Man last week, and did just that.

A Wanted Man | Beauty Salon

In my opinion, any kind of beauty treatment should always be followed by immense relaxation…and food. So a beauty salon located above a cafe is the perfect solution, no? Yes! Say hello to A Wanted Man, the new location from the Ministry of Waxing – yes, THE Ministry of Waxing. Located on Chelsea’s Kings Road, the brow bar and waxing salon sits above a modern, cosy cafe, with an old Western theme.

The Wild West theme flows through to the salon reception upstairs, and through to the treatment corners. I went for a slightly more “private” treatment, so I ventured even further upstairs to a private room. My booking was with Kanada, who was extremely professional, and very friendly. I won’t go into too much detail, but I was left feeling very content with both the service, and the results.

A Wanted Man | Cafe

After my treatment I headed downstairs for lunch. Coz that’s what you do at A Wanted Man. Unless you decide to do it the other way around of course (which is fine too, no one’s gonna judge ya). There’s a very prominent laid-back, 70s vibe to the cafe; I love contemporary interiors with a classic influence.

The coffee here is roasted by Singapore-based specialty coffee roasters, A Common Man, borne out of Five Senses Coffee of Melbourne. I ordered a flat white, which to me is the perfect way of testing coffee – even better if you can have an espresso alongside it. The coffee itself was smooth and went down a treat. Whilst I sipped on said beverage, I waited for my Rainbow Salad. Honestly it was very difficult to choose what to order. The menu isn’t too extensive – that’s a good thing – but everything sounds absolutely mouthwatering. And Instagram-friendly too! My salad arrived in good time and tasted fresh, wholesome and delicious. You can’t really ask for more. Still it’s really no surprise when you find out that the menu is crafted by Michel Bras-trained chefs, Benjamin Darnaud (previously at Viande & Chef in Paris) and Vincent Dery.

Final Thoughts

A Wanted Man is a wonderful addition to Chelsea, and the Ministry of Waxing. Whereas combining both the luxury of a beauty salon, and the comfort of a cafe may still be relatively new to the UK, it’s certainly not lost on its customers; be them new or loyal. Let’s just say that I don’t always go for a wax, but when I do it’s the Ministry of Waxing (brownie points to those who get the reference).

I would highly recommend A Wanted Man, whether you want a beauty treatment, coffee & food, or both! You won’t be disappointed.

 

You’ll find AWM on Drip App – so don’t forget to use “EXG878” to get £4 free credit and “BLOOMZY20” for an additional 20% off!

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The Best Coffee in Barcelona – Caravelle | Travel Guide

Best Coffee in BarcelonaCaravelle | Coffee & Food | Website
Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 31, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

The Best Coffee in Barcelona?

For me, coffee is vital to any holiday. It perks me up when jet lag sets in, and it keeps me going through the multitude of activities I try to cram into each day. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the coffee in Barcelona, but thankfully I had a guide. The BCN Best Coffee guide to be exact. The app was created by a friend of mine, whom I trust dearly when it comes to coffee & food; so I knew I was in good hands.

After doing a bit of shopping in La Rambla, I checked out the app to see what coffee shops were close by. Luckily one of the cafes I had taken note of previously was less than 10mins away. That place was Caravelle.

Caravelle

Caravelle is based in central Barcelona, and offers up a variety of artisan coffee, craft beer, and food. We stopped by on a Monday – around midday – and found a free table. The interior is spacious, with tables and bar seating. It’s table service, so no need to go up to the bar. This area is utilised more in the evening, when they serve their own craft beer.

We ordered a cold brew, an iced latte (coz 30c weather), and the French Toast. I’d read that Caravelle’s brunches were pretty well known (and respected) in Barcelona. And apparently the French toast is a must-try. Truth be told I wanted the banana bread, but unfortunately it was sold out – so I assume it’s pretty awesome. Instead the server suggested I try the French toast. I didn’t need much convincing, and I took his word for it. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long to find out just how it was for myself.

This beast of a brunch is much taller and fatter than I’d expected. Soft toast is loaded with fresh seasonal fruit (strawberries, peaches and blackberries) and cream. Honestly I couldn’t finish this myself, and had to ask for a little help. The tart flavours of the berries mix perfectly with the soft, sweet peach and cream. You’d think a dish with this much bread would get a little dry, but the fruit sauce keeps everything moist.

Final Thoughts

Caravelle is an awesome cafe for coffee or brunch. The laid back atmosphere makes it an easy spot to meet with friends or family, or as a comfortable place to work from. I may have only had one dish, but I could tell that a lot of time and effort goes into their food. The coffee is definitely up there, but next time I’d like to try their flat white or an espresso, to get a better idea. As for service, everyone was friendly and laid back – my kinda place. Quite honestly the food and coffee here is superb, and it’s a must visit for any brunch fans…or lunch…or dinner…

Want to find the best coffee in Barcelona? Download BCN Best Coffee!
See more posts: Barcelona Travel Diary

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Coffee Valley | Tokyo Travel Diary

Coffee ValleyCoffee Valley | 2-26-3 Minami-Ikebukuro, Tokyo, 03-6907-1173 | Website | Nearest Station: Ikebukuro

This is a bittersweet post to write, as I sit here sipping coffee in my London apartment. Only a couple of weeks ago I was walking around the backstreets of sunny Ikebukuro, searching for this elusive spot. I actually discovered Coffee Valley whilst reading an old issue of Vikka magazine. The feature was pretty tiny, but the emphasis on good coffee and natural food caught my eye. It may sound silly but this little cafe was on my list of must-visit spots whilst we were in Tokyo.

How is the coffee and food?

We arrived late afternoon to find a queue of around 10 people. As a Londoner, this is nothing for me. People seemed curious about us. Maybe because this well-loved spot isn’t exactly on the tourist map. I don’t know. Either way we happily waited with everyone; which consisted of mainly dates and friends. After around 15 minutes we were directed into the cafe. We were spoken to in fluid Japanese, and told to find a table (spread out over 2 floors) before ordering at the counter on the ground floor. The menu here is small, just a coffee list and the daily sandwich, French toast and cake. Don’t worry though if you don’t speak Japanese. It’s all pretty straight forward, the food is displayed on the counter – so you can easily point – and the staff are very friendly.

We ordered two of “today’s sandwich” whilst I had a flat white, and Ben a drip coffee.  Our egg sandwiches were seasoned well with pepper and small bits of vegetables, which created a nice blend of textures. The sandwiches also came with a side of various pickled vegetables to continue the theme – my favourite! The bread was fresh and soft, and the filling was very tasty. I really appreciated the use of natural, wholesome ingredients. The best way to describe the food here is: simple flavours, done well.

As for the coffee, well it was great! Just as good as my favourites in London. They used freshly roasted beans, with a couple of options of origin. I tried some of Ben’s drip coffee, which was smooth and full-flavoured. If I hadn’t been after a slightly milkier alternative, I would have easily chosen the drip.

Final thoughts on Coffee Valley…

For me, Japanese cafes are in a league of their own. Coffee Valley is no different here. Not only is their branding on-point, but their ideology is too. For me food and coffee should be simple at heart, and transparent. By that I mean the use of fresh ingredients which you can trace back to their source. Again, this is something independent cafes in Japan do well. I hope I’m not coming across as pretentious, but at the end of the day Coffee Valley offers up great food, and even better coffee. So if you find yourself in Tokyo, looking for a chilled cafe, make sure you pop by.

You can find out more about Coffee Valley here (non-Japanese speakers can this Google translate version).

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