Coffee: compared and contrasted

For most of today I have been having what I think are palpitations, the after effects of having 4 double espressos in 3 hours, the result of me sacrificing myself to find the best takeaway coffee around. It probably would have been sensible if I haven’t made my own espresso before I set off on my mission.

I like my coffee to be hot, but not so hot that I can’t drink it immediately – I like to enjoy the intensity of the crema in the first few sips. A good latte should be textured and not too foamy, and by not overheating the milk you avoid denaturing the protein in the milk, which improves flavour. Clearly, if you like your coffee scalding hot so it’s still hot when you get to your desk, you might disagree with my assessment. I used a digital thermometer with probe to measure the temperature of the liquid.

All of the coffees ordered were the smallest size available and I didn’t reveal my purpose to ensure I was treated like any other customer.

Latte art isn’t a reflection of the quality of the coffee but for me suggests the skill, care and attention of the barista, but its absence is not indicative of a bad coffee.

Round 1: Coffique

Re-established as a small cubicle in an estate agents, Coffique  is conveniently located opposite the Overground station. Coffique was the first café to open in Wapping which was identifiably a ‘coffee shop’. It now only offers takeaways. They were at one point using Illy beans, but I don’t know if they still are. There was a small selection of packaged snacks.
I arrived at the window and there was no queue, I was greeted in a warm and friendly manner and the coffee was made in around one minute. I ordered regular and it came in a 12 oz cup.
The ambient temperature was around 1 degree centigrade and the temperature of the latte was 65.7 degrees.  It was hot to sip, but drinkable, it was the perfect temperature for me once I got down to the platform at the station. Coffee was pleasant, but without any noticeable characteristics.
Latte art was a pleasant fern (or rosetta), the crema was a light colour.
Summary: A good cup of coffee, well made and excellent value at £1.70

Round 2: White Mulberries

Anyone who follows me on twitter will know that White Mulberries is my favourite coffee shop in the area, but I consider each cup of coffee on its own merits. It is located in the ground floor of the Ivory House in St Katharine Dock, with a south facing window. They have seating inside for 15-20 (at a squeeze) and a bench and tables overlooking the dock. The have a good range of cakes and sandwiches.
There were a few people sat in the shop, but no queue. I was greeted by name and my coffee and cake order came in about 3 minutes.
Latte art was a heart, the crema darker than at coffique. I went with an 8 oz cup, smaller than the coffee at coffique, and generally my preferred size of latte. A large comes in a 12 oz. Ambient temperature was 0.5 degrees centigrade, the coffee was 61 degrees and was a good drinking temperature immediately, though I should have asked for a cup holder as it was a little hot on my freezing fingers (I was on my way back from my Surrey Quays walk).
The quality of the Allpress coffee was obvious (Allpress roast daily and deliver throughout the week to their customers) and the coffee was well made.
Summary: Excellent beans make a great coffee.

Round 3: Cinnamon

I remember being rather excited when Cinnamon opened, from its design aesthetic to the fact it uses Monmouth beans, but I have always been a little disappointed with the coffee, finding the milk to be overheated and I have burnt my mouth on a number of occasions. Located on Wapping Lane, the shop has seating for perhaps 15-18 people and has applied for planning permission for an awning on the side of the shop. It has a range of cakes and pastries. An Italian-American friend recommends the Nutella Cappuccino.
The shop was busy. There were two groups of people in the queue ahead of me. I queued for maybe 3 minutes and waited another 3 after ordering for a latte and a cappuccino. Service was polite and efficient.
No latte art. I would describe the top layer as ‘foam’ rather than ‘textured milk’. Ambient temperature was 0.5 degrees, coffee was 62 degrees and was drinkable immediately. The coffee was pleasant, with some notes of cocoa.
Summary: A good cup of coffee, and probably the best I’ve had from Cinnamon recently. Good quality beans, but a little more attention to the milk would make a more aesthetically pleasing coffee. 

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