Caffeine and Sugar

Writing this on the train back home from London where a friend and I consumed copious amounts of coffee and tasty treats (read: cakes!) Mixed in with a bit of shopping and catching up with family (not mine)

We arrived late thursday night, so after a late dinner and a good nights sleep we were up for venturing into the big smoke (smog?) for some caffeine intake!

First stop was the Tea and Coffee Festival which was taking place at the South Bank Centre (outdoors) friday-sunday. On arrival around 12pm there were already a good amount of people wandering round the various stalls. There were lots of retailers there selling coffee, tea, freshly made hot and cold food and baked goods amongst other things.

not very many cookies…

We bought a macchiato and a flat white from Dark Fluid who had a stall they were serving coffee from using their refurbished Mirage with custom wood side panels, beautiful! Very tasty coffee also

After a few laps of the area, we checked out the Winter market on the South Bank behind the centre which was very festive and reminded us again how close it is to Christmas, aahh!

We headed into the centre via some shops and ended up in Kaffeine, where I had a very nice piccolo made using Square Miles Red Brick seasonal blend and the stores gorgeous Synesso – that made me happy before i’d even ordered (I’m a bit of a tech lover and a sucker for a handsome espresso machine!)


On saturday morning we hit Borough Market (one of my favourite places in London!) and got coffee from Flat Cap who also use Red Brick – two flat whites and after a long queue they were delicious so worth the wait.


Over to the festival again where we made some purchases – Teapigs tea, Kopi’s Guatemalan for filter (roasted in early October so will see how that goes down after more than a month), and some amazing handmade fudge which I’m looking forward to this week (after a couple of days detox!)

Some Churros were purchased on impulse…

We ended up in Speakeasy before we headed back for the evening. I really liked their store. Very simple yet efficient as most busy ones in London are, especially the smaller sites which are efficient through necessity due to a lack of space! Being just off Carnaby Street I imagine they are regularly very busy! I particularly liked the layout of their shop – bar upstairs was for espresso based drinks/tea and had a separate brew bar at the seating area downstairs for other brew methods.


Again coffee was top notch and was delivered quickly considering how busy they were.

We were leaving around 3 on Sunday so headed to Sensory Lab just after lunchtime. Very cool shop, lots of retail products as you go in the door such as v60s, scales, pouring kettles, aeropress etc, and a Synesso sitting proudly on the immaculate bar on your right. Drinks are prepared in front of you and presentation (latte art) was a key feature and very impressive!


Into a Turkish place down the road for some lunch then headed for the train home, excitement over!

Being in London makes me want more coffee shops like the ones above in Scotland. They’re very trendy but very precise about what they’re aiming to do and what they want from the business at the same time. Very cool.

Heres a lego Christmas tree and a giant Snow globe




One response to “Caffeine and Sugar

  1. Very enjoyable blog Michael!!

    Just back from the big smoke yesterday, and your mouthwatering Caffeine and Sugar article came up trumps in steering us towards some great coffee and nibbles.

    It has been a good 15yrs since i was last in London, so obviously didn’t recall much from previous experiences. Thankfully as a coffee and food enthusiast, a notable change was the wealth of independant speciality coffee outlets and artisan eateries on offer, which instantly put me in top form, and tipped the eyes vs stomach balance completely.

    First stop was Tapped and Packed as i heard from a blog called that they serve Has Bean’s La Illusion espresso, which they did in all its glory. Thankfully they also do a cracking decaf flat white, which saved my bacon after dragging my poor wife past 40 other coffee outlets on the hike from Notting Hill to Tottenham Court Rd, just to satisfy my espresso craving.

    Have to deviate away from coffee briefly to mention lunch at a place called Hawksmoor (Langley St.). Smokey chargrilled cheese burgers to die for, with an unusual yet genius Kimchi relish and a side of beef dripping chips, all washed down with a mighty fine Kernel IPA. Would recommend to anyone looking for something more than the usual pub fare, as the mix of imagination in the kitchen and staff who care about the detail and can proudly tell you where they source the produce, make for a very memorable dining experience. I have asked that they open one of these in Scotland, as their ethos mixed with angus beef would be a killer combo.

    Back on the coffee trail and to make sure i got no sleep on the night train back to Aberdeen, i stopped by at Kaffeine and as per your recommendation was greeted with another really cool setup and lovingly prepared drinks.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we need more coffee bars with this kind of philosophy in Scotland, as people like Artisan Roast have done great things in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but it would be good to be this spoiled for choice in every major Scottish town/city.

    Very encouraged by your website and blog, that there are like minded people trying to further raise the quality of coffee served in the north!!

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