The Underdog

October 21, 2017

Wander around Athens, and like Cyprus, you will not find good coffee.

The times they are a changing, excellent coffee as in Cyprus is starting to make an appearance.

I had walked around The Acropolis. Arrived at Thislo, a Metro Station I did not know. I thought maybe one of the coffee shops I was looking for was nearby. I had walked past it. I back tracked.

A fairly nondescript building, no name, nothing to indicate the delights inside.

Like Taylor Made, ultra trendy. I later learnt same designer.

Multi level, a roastery below, serving area, various brew methods, railway sleepers as a table. Standart and Drift available to browse. Not on sale.

I had never heard of Drift before, let alone come across. It is very much like Standart, high quality writing on art and coffee culture, only each issue devoted to a single city. At $22  an issue, roughly twice the cost of Standart, expensive.

Also on display trophies for World Championship in Coffee in Good Spirits. This year they came second, previous two years they won.  Different baristas, but incredible for one coffee shop.

I found myself chatting to the guy who came second.

In June I was chatting to the guy who won, Martin Hudak.

He recommended I visit Taf, and a coffee shop beyond Taf called Mr Bean.

I ordered a cappuccino. Excellent.

As at Taylor Made, no saucer, served with a glass with a  spoon.

This I queried. It was as I guessed, lack of a saucer, somewhere to put the spoon.

The Underdog offer a cold brew which strictly speaking is not a cold brew. Brewed in a Chemex, poured into bottles, stored in a fridge to chill. In essence a variant of Japanese iced coffee, where instantly chilled with ice in the carafe, but not cold brew.

The Underdog supply coffee to other coffee shops, but as with Square Mile in London,  exact high standards if you wish to use their coffee.

At the weekend from Acropoli Metro Station, stroll along Dionysiou Areopagitou, it runs between the Museum and The Acropolis. Do not visit The Acropolis at weekends, too crowded. Then turn around to the right along Apostolou Pavlou. At weekends lined with stalls and musicians. It also leads a back way into Agora of Athens. Past a few cafes and bars, then more stalls. Eventually a Metro station reached. Backtrack to the bars and restaurants, and take a turning to the right for The Underdog. Easily missed as a nondescript building on the outside.

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Demonstration outside Spanish Embassy

October 21, 2017

A demonstration outside Spanish Embassy in Athens to condemn the Fascist regime and its treatment of Catalonia.

Coffee Dive

October 21, 2017

According to Alexia Amvrazi writing in Greek City Times

Athenians these days take coffee drinking very seriously, and as a result of top quality coffee shops mushrooming in every corner, they are spoilt for choice.

Well actually they do not, which is why wandering around Athens all you find is rubbish coffee.

Neither do you find that there are ‘top quality coffee shops mushrooming in every corner’ or that ‘spoilt for choice’.

Not that there are not ‘top quality coffee shops’ but they are a rarity.

Times they are a changing, and slowly slowly, specialty coffee shops are being established, but they are still a rarity.

One of the recommendations by Alexia Amvrazi Coffee Dive is not a top quality coffee shop, but then neither is Coffee Berry which she also recommends.

This sadly is what happens when someone who knows nothing about coffee recommends coffee shops. That she is writing in a section lifestyle says it all.

Coffee Dive is located near The Acropolis, a few minutes walk from Metro Station and and Museum, in a side street, a side street that is used as short cut by tour companies.

For such a location, I found empty. Only too easy to see why.

Different brew gadgets on display, but seem to be just that, display not for use.

Factory cakes shrink wrapped.

Bagged coffee on sale, only not in bags in glass jars.

 

I ordered a cappuccino.

It was not good.

I asked to look at the beans.

Stored in plastic, not good, no aroma, not good.

I suspect old beans, not a clue on roasting and buying poor quality beans.

A little coffee roaster tucked in the corner.

They have a Mahlkönig EK43 coffee grinder, which was apparently new and had just been delivered.

As I was explaining how to adjust the grind setting, a scruffy ignorant man pushed past me, clasped his hands around the machine and demanded to know why I was touching his machine.

I was not.

I asked if he moved his hands, I could explain, but he became more aggressive and threatening.

That he was scruffy showed contempt for customers, even worse his aggressive behavior.

I sat by the window chatting to a fellow customer, the only customer other than myself.

The owner came over, even more aggressive, demanding to stop discussing him.

We were not, we were discussing other coffee shops,  and the one and only customer asked what coffee shops were like in England.

An owner with a  serious problem.

A coffee shop to be avoided.

On leaving, I thanked the staff for being helpful.

Taylor Made

October 20, 2017

Wander around Athens, and like Cyprus, you will not find good coffee.

The times they are a changing, excellent coffee as in Cyprus is starting to make an appearance.

I would like to say I stumbled upon Taylor Made, as I usually go where my feet take me, but sadly not , I used what I would normally not, I used  a guide, and that was what led me to the vicinity of the church, but where was the coffee shop, and which one was it? All I had was the church marked on a map.

After a coffee at Just Made 33, I asked of Taylor Made. They recommended and told me where to find.

Without asking, I was brought a mat black bottle full of cold water.

Trendy not the word, a hole in the wall opens into a trendy adjacent bar.

Impressive range of brew gear, including a stunning cold drip tower.

I must return to try the cold brew.

Upstairs a micro-roastery. Nothing less than Q grade of 85.

I was brought a coffee menu, history of Taylor Made and details on each coffee.

Located in a majestic neoclassical building by architect Ernst Ziller and with (always busy) tables spilling out onto Aghias Irinis Square facing the church.

When it opened in the summer of 2011, this part of Monastiraki was run down, times were hard, as they still are. The area was of tailors, hence the name.

A huge risk was taken, especially considering the massive capital investment.

The first month empty.  Now packed.

My cappuccino excellent.

Adjacent to my coffee a small spoon in a tiny glass. Not sure what for. At a guess, if used sugar, somewhere to put the spoon as no saucer.

I noticed although free wifi, people were engaged in conversation. The only exception a couple of people at a table using laptops.

Think of the best coffee shops in England. Taylor Made is in another league.

Located in Monastiraki.

To find, head down Ermou from Syntagma. When  you have hit the church, take the first arcade on  the right after the church.

Ermou is the Athens’ equivalent of Oxford Street in London. The same crap chain stores as find in any crap shopping centre.

 

Just Made 33

October 20, 2017

Wander around Athens, and like Cyprus, you will not find good coffee.

The times they are a changing, excellent coffee as in Cyprus is starting to make an appearance.

I would like to say I stumbled upon Just Made 33, as I usually go where my feet take me, but sadly not , I used what I would normally not, I used  a guide, and that was what led me to the vicinity of the church, but where was the coffee shop, and which one was it? All I had was the church marked on a map.

I chanced a side street, turned a few corners, now lost and disorientated, I asked.

I was directed back to the church.

Trendy is not the word, a corner location serving excellent coffee, numerous brew methods, delicious cakes, I tried not the other coffee on offer.

To my amazement, Panama Geisha served. If nothing else, a good reason to return.

A glass of water brought without asking.

You want it hot? Strange question. But then everyone else drinking freddo cappuccino.

In the past I have searched for a freddo cappucuno, was looking forward to, but now I wanted a cappuccino as a benchmark.

Served with two tiny salt like pots. On was chocolate, the other cinnamon.

I then tried a bar. Peanut butter, chocolate and hazelnuts.

They work closely with a roastery Sapid  located outside Athens.

Outside somewhat noisy due to motorbikes riding through a pedestrianized street.

I would recommend they subscribe to Standart, maybe have on sale.

Just Made 33 was packed.

Think of the best coffee shops in England. Just Made 33 is in another league.

I asked of other coffee shops. It was suggested try nearby Tailor Made, also slightly further away Taf Coffee

Located in Monastiraki.

To find, head down Ermou from Syntagma. If you have hit the church, you have gone too far. Back track. Take the first street on the right before the church.

Ermou is the Athens’ equivalent of Oxford Street in London. The same crap chain stores as find in any crap shopping centre.

Cappuccino in Small Batch

September 24, 2017

The last time I was in Brighton, I had a cappuccino off the Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station. I was looking forward to one today, and was disappointed to find no kiosk.

Down on the seafront, it turned cool and started to rain. I had intended to walk out along Brighton Pier, but feeling cold, I decide to head inland and take a slow wander back to Brighton Station via a coffee shop.

I had intended Pelicano, as not far from the station, popped in Small Batch on the way.

I have often popped in Small Batch, but never stayed and had a coffee, as always busy.

Today was no exception, but thought I would try a cappuccino.

I was disappointed cocoa was added. Nothing wrong with the coffee, but loses the flavour of the coffee. I mentioned this to the barista after complimenting on an otherwise excellent coffee. He gave me a complimentary card to have a coffee next time passing by.

I picked up a bag of coffee.

A wide range of brew methods at the brew bar, pour over, Japanese syphon.

I like the ultra modern style of Small Batch, what I do not like is that it is harsh and  noisy,  not an ambience within which to relax. Maybe that is why people sit outside.

On my last visit, I asked of Standart, Small Batch are listed as a distributor. I asked again. No luck.

Cappuccino in Jolliffes

September 24, 2017

Brighton has a thriving coffee culture, there are many quality coffee shops, Jolliffes is not one of them.

The coffee not ground fresh for each cup.

A cappuccino was brought to me upstairs.

Chocolate was dumped on top.

No, you do not dump chocolate on a cappuccino, or at the very least you ask.

Guy who served me became stroppy and stormed off.  No apology.

A long wait.  A girl came with a  cappuccino, slammed it down on the table. Coffee was dribbling down the handle of the cup.

It looked disgusting, and was. Served scaling hot.

Dirty dishes on adjacent table not cleared.

About the only good thing I can say, the ambience was pleasant and they support local artists.

The coffee is local from Red Rooster.

Redroaster should be very concerned as Jolliffes is not doing their reputation any favours.

It once again raises the question, why bother to open a coffee shop if you cannot be bothered to serve decent coffee, and in Brighton there is no shortage of quality indie coffee shops?

 

Sunday in Brighton

September 24, 2017

A lovely sunny day.

Just missed a late running train at Gatwick. Wait for the next train.

Train overcrowded, people standing, toilets not working.

Heavy police presence outside Brighton Station.

Usually a Small Batch coffee kiosk outside Brighton Station. Not today.

I was pleased to find the owner of Grocer and Grain running the store today.

He has a good selection of coffee.

Big question mark on Back Yard Coffee. The information on the bags meaningless, no information on origin, or even what beans. They did though note roast date.

Down to the seafront. Heavy security outside Labour Party Conference. Have to enter through a security fence.

Hypocrite Labour Party delegates sat outside Costa. There are many quality indie coffee shops in Brighton, support them, not Costa. Similarly do not eat the disgusting food on the seafront, use your legs and walk to North Laine.  The two exceptions, the seafood stall in the arches and and the seafood stall opposite.

Excellent musician Sybie playing in the street. Bought a couple of signed albums.

Also an excellent blues musician.

North Laine as always very busy.

Popped in Brighton Magazine. No, they did not have Standart. I learnt a new issue out.

Lunch at Iydea. Hot sat outside in the sun.

There are many quality coffee shops in Brighton, Jolliffes is not one of them.

Bumped into one of one of the Labour Party delegates who I know. Took him and his colleague down to the seafront.

It turned cold and started to rain.

I was going to walk along Brighton Pier, but decided to call it a day and wander back to the station via a coffee shop.

Dropped in on Small Batch. First time I have had a coffee. It was good.

Train from Brighton, overcrowded and standing room only.

Alighting at Gatwick, and passengers piling on to the train, packed in like sardines.

At Gatwick, crooked money exchange screwing travellers, offering less than a euro for a pound, another only just over a euro. Last week it was possible to obtain 1-10 euros to the pound.

 

Cappuccino in Krema

September 23, 2017

Krema is one of those coffee coffee shops where guaranteed a consistently good cappuccino.

Today, no exception. Indeed one of the best cappuccinos I have had in Krema.

Horsham Pioneer v 5.0.

A new espresso blend from Horsham, which may in part explain why my cappuccino was so good today.

Lunch at Gail’s artisan bakery

September 23, 2017

A bowl of soup, followed by quiche, at Gail’s artisan bakery.

I had not realised how late it was, I left for the butcher, then came back for my quiche.

The soup, tomatoes, roast peppers and tarragon.

Served with two doorstops of bread I did not really need anything else. Doubly so as the quiche was not good. I was told it came with salad. The salad a few green leaves.

Curious why the coffee always bad, I asked, does anyone make the coffee? No, we have baristas.

The soup was excellent. The soup usually is, I cannot say that though about anything else at Gail’s.

Starbucks bakery (not to be confused with tax-dodging Starbucks serving undrinkable coffee), neither cakes not bread good, but very good quiche.

The quiche in Gail’s looked good, but it was not. I left it uneaten.

The salad, I was expecting a small side salad, not a handful of leaves.

The staff are pleasant, though I have never see the same staff twice.

The service poor.

The ambience poor.