Friday, August 22

Scottish Coffee

Well, it's been a week, but here I am again! *fanfare blares*

Well, not a whole lot to mention really. Turns out I was very busy, so couldn't do much of what I said I'd do. For those of you who don't know, I've been helping with a Church youth group for the last week. But, we did have a day out to Edinburgh, and a day out to Dunfermline. The first was a fantastic introduction to the Edinburgh coffee scene. I visited three coffee shops, all of whom served me with a better espresso than I could find in Newcastle (with a couple of notable exceptions, but more on that later). The first I visited was Cafe Andaluz. It was more a restaurant really, so I ordered my espresso to go. On show was a beautiful, two group Wega Nova. They didn't use it. The bloke who served me went into the back, and came back with my shot, so who knows what it was made on. I took it out, bought a notepad (to take notes), then tasted it. I've had better. It was weak, watery and a little bland. It still tasted fresh, but like they'd used too few coffee grinds and too much water. As such the aftertaste lasted about five minutes, no more. But in all it wasn't an unpleasant shot, just not the best I've had.

The second cafe was Café Rouge. To look at, this is the best coffee shop I have ever been to. It looks more European than Café Europa. All the waiters and baristas are wearing white shirts, full length black aprons and black trousers. Turns out it's a cafe in the true European sense of the word, selling food, with the coffee as a side dish. So, I went for the full experience and had a lemon tart and a cappuccino. The tart was the best I've had. The coffee wasn't. This isn't to say it wasn't nice, however. The milk was good, but not amazing, with some larger bubbles, and the espresso base was nice enough. The temperature was perfect, warm but not hot. All round a nice place to spend an afternoon.

However, looking back, both these cafes should be ignored, totally. They're both on George's Street. Start in Charlotte's Square, walk down George's Street on the left hand side and you'll find them both. Keep on walking, you'll find a better coffee. Wellington Coffee. Basically hidden away underneath another shop. Walking in, I was amazed by how small it was, yet they still managed to fit three grinders behind the bar; one empty, one for decaf and one for their espresso blend. I ordered myself a cappuccino, and sat down. Tragically the banter was minimal, but I forgave them when my drink arrived. The foam was not the meringue nest I'd gotten in Dunfermline (more, again later), but a perfectly intergrated layer of microfoam. The chocolate powder had been poured ontop of the espresso, then had the milk poured into it, creating a rosetta with a fantastic contrast. To taste, it truely is the best coffee I've had since Copenhagen. Finally, I find someone in the UK (putting aside just about everyone I met in Copenhagen) who can make a better coffee than me. I finally have a benchmark to aim for again. To drink my capp was balanced and silky smooth.

Anyway, this is getting to be long, so I'll stop waxing lyrical and get on with it.

In Dunfermline all the leaders on this week away, as well as a couple of the helpers (myself included) dressed up in stupid costumes and ran around the town. I was dressed as a huge yellow dog called Jumpster. A couple of the leaders and I tried to avoid the kids who were looking for us, and found a coffee shop. We sat down, I took off my dog's head, and we had a drink. So, now for the coffee. I got a cappuccino, and later an espresso. The cappuccino was what you'd expect from somewhere that uses Illy beans; it tasted alright, but nothing all that special, and the foam sat totally seperate to the milk. The espresso was served without any creama to speak of, and was bitter and overextracted. I'll try and get some photos of me in the suit up though.

In more local news, there is a new coffee shop open in Newcastle! Central Bean. My collegues at work loved it so much they rang me while I was in Scotland, so today I'm going to try it. I will post my thoughts when I get back, but from the sounds of it I might finally have some competition in Newcastle. Not to sound big-headed, but you really need to have a look at the Newcastle coffee scene to see what I'm on about.

So, will speak soon!



Chris Weaver said...

All sounds good Seamus! I love the look of a european style cafe. Shame the coffee wasn't to match.

I love your writing, however the thought of getting a cappuccino with chocolate powder already poured on just to give a better rosetta concerns me a little bit!!

I need to get back up to Scotland and have a few coffees in Edinburgh!!

Chris, Common Grind

Seamus McFlurry said...

Yeah, I know there's the whole arguement over whether or not to have a topping on a capp or not. Personally it doesn't really bother me. So long as it's chocolate, or something equally tasty then I'm happy to have something, just to take the edge off the first couple of sips.

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