Wake up and smell the coffee

Some outtakes from a recent shoot at Lyle’s in Shoreditch for the latest issue of Caffeine.

While the restaurant’s food has been widely praised, Lyle’s also pays a great deal of attention to their coffee. The all-day coffee bar operation starts from 8.00am as a separate yet integral part of the restaurant. It’s a slick and precise affair run by James Low (not the James Lowe behind the kitchen) and features timers, scales and dedicated hot water taps at two specific temperatures for tea and coffee.

Together with familiar Square Mile, Low also features less well known beans such as Koppi and Belleville, which will change regularly alongside the menu and wine list. And his choice of tea is equally discerning, featuring single-estate, small batch leaves from Lalani.

So, if you’ve been tempted to Lyle’s by the restaurant reviews, just don’t forget about the coffee.

Get on the caravan

Recently published in olive magazine, a recipe feature from the charming people at Caravan, King’s Cross on the Central St Martin’s campus.Caravan1Caravan2Caravan3Caravan4Caravan_Entertain-0159As well as serving up great food, Caravan are also passionate coffee roasters, and carry a small selection of interesting blends and single estates as well as the odd gadget or two for coffee-making nerds.

A recent trip to Mumbai (more on that soon) and the purchase of some peaberry beans from Philips Coffee & Tea has got me all fired up about coffee again. At the moment I’m contemplating a ceramic burr hand-grinder, and a tall Porlex is favourite at the moment.

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Cafe culture

Mido Cafe, Temple Street, Hong KongMido Cafe, Temple Street, Hong KongFrench toast, Mido Cafe, Temple Street, Hong KongMido Cafe, Temple Street, Hong KongSo, suddenly back to Hong Kong for a catch-up round.

After Cafe Goldfinch in Causeway Bay, next stop on the nostalgia tour was Mido Cafe in Yau Ma Tei. Dating back to the Sixties, it feels like a complete time warp with the original tile detailing and boothed interior. Upstairs gives you a good view of the street below where the night market kicks off after it gets dark.

The great thing about Mido is that it’s unashamedly unreconstructed and slightly shabby around the edges. Nice as Cafe Goldfinch was, I found it all a bit too self-knowing what with all the signed posters and menu references to ITMFL.

The menu is all standard Sixties Canto-Western fair, including their famous French toast (pictured) complete with a drizzle of condensed milk. In a way, it’s a refreshing antidote to the glut of Starbucks, Pacific Coffee and designer barista bars that have boomed in the last few years.