Those who knew me before I knew espresso and its dangerous side-affects, and those who knew me to steal and beg and plot and manoeuver for a sip of their hot smoky beverages, after I was introduced to its gateway powers.
Some of the latter people have heard me apologize many times. I
For I am a crazy person when I have had access to too much delicious caffeine.
It is all the fault of one wonderful person named azo. He's from Seattle. He was weaned on Vivace and after that it's all down hill. His first coffee in the morning must happen before all else, including conversations about anything other than the brewing of such cup.
A byproduct of falling in love with azo was becoming bewitched by exquisite espresso.
I have never been the same since.
But for full transparency I must admit to something at the onset:
I am not a daily user.
I remain a lightweight.
I am an odd sort: when I find ambrosia I take part. I can take it or leave it. Unless it's the pure, uncut stuff. Then I'm doomed. Like a ship's captain out at sea for too many years I fall prey to the sirens and lead my wooden vessel to the rocks like honey to a bear. It's bad. And no one can stop me. I must have it.
So... When I said that I was on my way to London a little over a month ago, a fellow named Anthony Silverbrow sent me a bunch of recommendations based on what, perhaps, he had seen me going on about at eggbeater and KQED.
And so I, like an innocent Dorothy skipping through a field of illegal poppies, took my wide-eyed self and made my way, stopping at every intersection looking at the A to Zed, to Square Mile Coffee Roasters at 273 Poyser Street, E2.
When I walked through an arched lane below railway tracks, and took a gander down what the street sign was listing as Poyser Street, I turned around and re-traced my steps. All I could see were auto-mechanics and a dead-end.
One walks through a blue corrugated steel doorway right into a roasting room. Loosely woven sacks of coffee beans are piled high on your right, massive machines that could very well explore the sea's floor with Jacques Cousteau sit still in their glory and a tiny counter are in front of you.
If you walk in there anything like me, this is how it goes:
me: walking comes to a confused standstill as I take it all in.
owner: "Um. Hello? Can I....... help you?"
me: "Hmmmm. Is this... Square Mile?"
owner: "Yes, but we don't sell anything here... well not exactly..."
owner: "Who sent you?"
me: "Um.... An- Anthony...?"
owner: "Do you know him?"
me: "Well.... not exactly."
owner: "O. I see. ?"
It was so much fun. You should try it some time. Especially when your accent stands out among the rest and everyone in other country thinks your people are stupid anyway.
But you know what?
After that incredibly awkward exchange I had a fantastic experience.
Because Square Mile Coffee Roasters is a small company with
obsessive passionate attention to detail, a love of all things coffee bean, and friendly. I was invited to stay and sit and chat and someone handsome and cheeky made a complimentary cappucino for me. Owner James Hoffmann educated me about the history of coffee in London and we even spoke briefly about Jeremy Tooker and Slow Food Nation's amazing coffee station staffed with extraordinary baristas.
They even let me take out my intrusive camera and shoot away. Find the photos on my Flickr page.
Beginning to soar, I went on a pilgrimage to find retail establishments for espresso such as this.
Next time I'm in London you might find me wrapped around a small porcelain mug at Milk Bar or Flat White. Hoarding, secreting. Pretending I'm really just a black tea drinker...
And that Square Mile Coffee Roasters cappucino?
Fucking sawed-off shotgun-stylee rocket fuel.
Strong and silky delectable elixir of double edged greatness.
You can be sure I'll be back.
Thank you James & Anthony!