Metro’s Coffee Movement

 

Quote: “Muscovites Middle Eastern macchiato.”

I found a good article in the Metro (June 30th 2014) called Bean Around the World.  Davide Machado, whose surname could be a type of coffee, explores some of the up and coming coffee and café cultures around the globe.

Prague is first on his list, showing a keen interest in what barista Gwilym Davis calls, “‘traceability, single farm coffee [one type of bean from one type of farm] and lightly roasted beans, which result in sweet and fruity flavours’”. 

The place to be is the industrial-styled EMA Espresso Bar and according to Machado, “has been leading the city’s coffee charge since it opened last June.”

Singapore too has independents popping up.  This is mainly because, according to “Brad Lau of ladyironchef.com” (Singapore’s leading food and travel website), “‘Singaporeans’ heightened exposure to other coffee cultures when they travel’”.

Some of Lau’s favourite places to go and indulge in a coffee are Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park, The Grin, The Provision Shop and Batterworks.

Similar to the Singaporeans, the Muscovites have been awoken to the delights of a good coffee.    Gwilym thinks “Moscow baristas are considered some of the best in the world”.

Apparently Coffee Mania is the leader, creating its own coffees with Middle Eastern flavours.  The coffee shop to watch out for is Double B Coffee and Tea.  With two of Russia’s champion baristas at the helm it’s already making me a little envious and considering booking a flight to Moscow.

Now, most of us know Ethiopia has been (and still is) highly regarded in the history of coffee.  The reason behind its superiority is: “‘The beans are roasted, ground and brewed on an open fire while you wait,’ says photographer and aid worker Melany Markham, who recently spent a month travelling around Ethiopia.  ‘But it’s more than an ancient mastery of the bean that makes the coffee so good.  It’s the climate – cool and humid – that makes Ethiopian coffee possibly the best in the world.’”

Machado goes on to explain how the Italians colonised the country leaving behind a legacy, espresso machines and baristas.  Because of this the country not only produces fabulous coffee but it can also make a fabulous coffee.  Let’s move now!

Machado says the best coffee shop is Tomoca Coffee which opened in 1953.  There is also the newer Choché which “sources its beans from local growers and roasts them in a small room behind the café,” and “this year’s newest opening Melange Coffee Roasters”.

It’s nice to see that with travel comes great coffee. A broadening of the mind and the taste buds. But it’s not just the love of a good coffee which seems to be circulating; it’s the interest in supporting local farmers and creating a good coffee and not one which will just sell.  People are taking pride in their local producers and in their work.

Small Island

Small Island
By Andrea Levy

Last Christmas my writing group had a fabulous social gathering. As part of the literature theme of the evening (although I think wine was the main focus) we, the guests, had been asked to bring a book we wanted to share with others. However, I’d somehow missed the email and I had no book to impose on my companions. Luckily for me the group was kind and they handed me a spare paperback called Small Island. On first glance I thought it was a tad too large for my bag, but I said thanks and gratefully took it home.

After reading the YA fiction trilogy Matched I came to Small Island and I’m so glad I did. On the books first opening I was intrigued to find a postcard with a hilly landscape sketch on it. On its reverse was a written explanation as to why this anonymous person had provided this book. Here is a sample:

‘I do hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. It was important to me in helping me to understand more about the England I grew up in – I was born in 1940. We lived in rural Somerset, so I had very little idea about the larger patterns of social change in the UK.’

Small Island is set during WW2 and after in its period of recovery. We are taken into the heads and lives of the four main characters: (English) Queenie and Bernard and (Jamaican) Hortense and Gilbert.

We explore societal and personal relationships. We see how Hortense and Gilbert, who have longed to make a life in England as a lawyer and a teacher, encounter racism and prejudice. We observe the change in society as the war finishes and cultures and races mix. I found it shocking and fascinating at the open levels of racist abuse and the more subtle, underlying, accepted racism and perceived superiority at being white and British. Although, one hears of how people were treated it’s quite difficult comprehend. I think this book goes a little way to assisting the understanding of how black people, specifically Jamaicans, who were fighting for the Britain, were treated.

Andrea Levy writes so beautifully and easily, capturing the heart of personal and intimate moments through the most banal of daily tasks. On Bernard’s return from war we see both his and his wife’s struggle at getting back to ‘normality’.

‘“Took me a while to find the teapot,’ he told me. ‘Not where it usually is.”’ p435

Levy doesn’t skip the detail of daily lives and I think it’s this that draws us in and provides us with the essence of each character. We see how they perform on a day-to-day basis both in solitary mode and in company; we examine how they live and how they respond.

Each moment and event is perfectly crafted with her insightful words. During war she evokes in our minds the struggle and bizarreness that the men found themselves in with beautiful simplicity.

‘The relief had the whole trench sighing as one man.’ P346

And

‘Chap looked about eighty. We all did, with our pantomime aging of dust.’ P347

With Levy’s excellent prose I was taken on a journey of discovery where I held tight to the note on the postcard. It felt like a treasure that someone else had experienced something great in this book and now I was too. I kept this unidentified message inside the book during reading. It felt personal. I hope it remains with the book when I pass it on as it definitely added an unexpected dimension to my reading experience.

Read this book and if you’re lucky you may come across this magical copy.