Self-confessed coffee addict Cynthia Pickard reviews Coffee Island in St Martin’s Lane, London for KCW Today.
Coffee, this much-loved beverage is beginning to be treated with the same reverence as a fine wine. A Greek-run coffee shop has opened in Covent Garden where the idea is to have the baristas make up a custom blend to suit your own flavour preference, then the next time you drop in you can be drinking coffee with exactly the acidity, body and aftertaste that you love.
Every aspect of the production process has been considered, from bean to cup. To produce the required high quality result, direct trade is practiced; this means making contact with the individual coffee farmers and cooperatives in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Ethiopia, this benefits them greatly too. This ‘Microfarm Project’ ensures choosing limited edition coffees from, for example, selected farms in the Kochere area in Ethiopia where over 1000 heirloom varieties grow wild in the forests. This particular coffee is described as having ‘an aroma of black tea leaves, honey and peach, a sweet citrus acidity and a full smooth body with clean refreshing aftertaste.’ Just as with the language of wine buffs, these kinds of distinctions are made between one blend and another.
This is not the end of the story, after growing, picking and drying comes processing, washing, then the desired degree of roasting for each type of brew, filter coffee or espresso or finely ground for ibrik Greek coffee. The roasting takes place in Greece at the moment, the home of this prize-winning coffee shop brand.
Then there is a choice of how to make the drink itself, between a drip system, syphon, French Press or Moka Pot, all the accoutrements are here in the shop to be demonstrated, learnt about and sold for you to become your own coffee nerd at home. You’ll be wanting to use the correct type of water, the best filter paper, (clear the taste of paper by running some boiling water through it first).
The delicious decaffeinated blend is made from Arabica Varietals and made 99.9% caffeine free through a natural liquid CO2 process.
If a cup of tea is what you fancy, there’s a selection of herbs, hand-picked in Greece, try a mix of Lemon balm, Mint and Lavender or Dittany, Sage and Mint, English breakfast, Earl Grey hand picked in Sri Lanka, Gunpowder from China or Cascara made from the husk of the coffee cherry.
Thick sugar free chocolate has to be experienced too, it comes in five flavours including Caramel & Sea Salt, Orange & Cinnamon or White Chocolate with Raspberry & Pomegranate; the powder is available in 240g containers for £4.30.
There are delicious cakes, sandwiches and salads available if you can bear to dilute your fine coffee drinking experience. A visit to Coffee Island is an educational experience, if you love coffee there’s a danger it will spoil you for other chains!
5 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2H 9NY
Tel: 020 7836 3007