Coffee culture

Until fairly recently a coffee experience meant either a cup of bland Nescafé instant at home or, if lucky enough to be eating out at a posh restaurant, an equally innocuous outpouring from a toughened glass percolating machine.

Vive la révolution.

Fast forward 30 years and England has become a nation of coffee-drinking afficionados, seeking out a sophisticated Guatemalan & Brazilian blend for the early morning espresso hit rather than reaching for the Kenco. And tea is becoming as passé as Berni Inns and Liebfraumilch.

We are falling out of love with the cuppa after a dramatic fall in sales of tea bags.  In 2013 volume sales of tea were down by more than 6 per cent in the previous 12 months, almost double a 3 per cent fall in the previous year.

Experts say it appears Britons are ditching the traditional cuppa for the more fashionable cappuccino, given staggering sales growth at high street chains such as Costa Coffee and the success of coffee makers such as Nespresso.

My own conversion has continued apace over the last couple of years, and I made it a personal mission to try out as many as possible of the new independent artisan coffee shops springing up all over London, on my way into work each morning.

I became a regular at places like Carter Lane Coffee House (molto Italiano vibe), Fix on Whitecross Street (good coffee, but service a bit too cool for school),  and Timberyard on Old Street (good coffee, great service, free use of iPads).

This new breed of coffee shop provides much, much more than just a caffeine fix, and a far richer experience than the uniformity of corporate Costas, Neros & Starbucks.

Now I’ve given up work, I’m grateful that friend & neighbour Simon Ware shares my addiction. He’s recently acquired a gleaming new Italian espresso machine of his own and introduced me today to his local Surrey dealers, sorry…. suppliers – Redber roasters, based in Merrow on the outskirts of Guildford.

South African Graham Jones and Slovakian Petra Suchova have an obvious passion for real coffee, sourced from around the globe:  We have two main missions, firstly it is to convert the nation from instant coffee to enjoying fresh roasted coffee. Secondly there are so many different and wonderful origin and estate coffees out there to enjoy. We want it to be like walking into a sweet shop or a wine shop or a cheese shop. You are spoilt for choice. All these different coffees have different tastes, some you will like, some you might not and that’s fine. The point is to learn about them and try them. You decide which ones you like the most and then enjoy!

Graham JonesPetronela Suchova

I walked out with 125g of a Papua New Guinean Kenta, a medium-dark roast with musky and complex aromas matched by the rustic earthy flavoured tones.

I’ll let you know what I think. But I reckon it’s safe to assume it will taste a whole lot better than the one served up by the Berni Inn in 1981, just after the black forest gateau…..

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