Yellow Warbler – Best Flat White In Stoke Newington

yellow-warbler-flat-white

Speaking of top quality London flat whites, have you tried Yellow Warbler in Northwold Road, Stoke Newington?

I still remember the day it opened. Back then, Audio Underground was across the road and I rehearsed there twice a week with my band. Some of the shop spaces in the area were classic Seinfeld “Bermuda triangle[s] of retail,” opening and shutting before you could even learn their names. Yellow Warbler, I assumed, would share the same fate. And early on, business did look pretty slow.

The truth, though, is in the coffee. And Yellow Warbler’s always tastes amazing. The food’s good, too. South American inspired breakfasts. Homemade cakes, croissants and sausage rolls. Mostly organic, locally sourced ingredients. And the bread’s from Dalston’s iconic Dusty Knuckles Bakery. Once, I had a bacon brioche roll with romesco sauce and loved the Spanish nut and pepper-based relish so much I started making it at home – and still do.

Back to the coffee, though. I’ve found you’re always guaranteed a great flat white when the barista asks if you’d like sugar in it before he or she adds the frothed milk and latte art. And Yellow Warbler always asks. I can take a bit of snootiness as well, as long as it’s backed up by a magical cup of coffee. China Plate Espresso, for example, which is now closed but was just around the corner in Stoke Newington High Street, had the rudest baristas ever.

Once, mine made a coffee for herself and started drinking it right in front of me before serving (or even making eye contact) with me – and she reeked of cigarettes. Naturally, I was expecting the coffee to taste out of this world… but sadly, it didn’t.

Likewise, The Haberdashery, also in Stoke Newington High Street, has some pretty snobbish-seeming baristas who don’t backup their aloofness either. And for the record, Church Street’s Sapid Coffee doesn’t compare.

In contrast, though, Yellow Warbler has none of that same pretentiousness. I’ve dealt with at least four different baristas over the years, and they’re always friendly, chatty and, more importantly, reliable. In short, if you’re in the area, Yellow Warbler is worth the extra few minutes into Northwold Road. Trust me.

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EZ & Moss – I Came for the Flat White But Stayed for the Nutella Brioche

ez & moss flat white

I love band practices at Strummers Studios. Mostly because EZ & Moss – home of one of London’s finest flat whites – is just around the corner. I still remember the dark days, when I used to turn left into Holloway Road before and midway through rehearsals, and settle for a Costa flat white and an overpriced, underbaked almond croissant. In comparison, EZ & Moss is a veritable coffee, cake and gourmet lunch utopia.

The secret to a good flat white, of course, is the coffee. But the magic’s in the froth. It’s a delicate, finely balanced art that takes time and practice to master – even now, after more than a year on steamer duty, my success rate is not 100%. It’s all about the texture; too long or too aggressive and you end up with soulless split milk that’s too hot to drink, too short and you’re washing down lifeless, lukewarm bubbles.

I still remember that episode* of Frasier, where Niles complains that the foam at Café Nervosa is “a tad listless.” Staring down at his coffee, Frasier replies, “Yes. I can tell without looking that they’ve got Chad back on steamer duty.”

At EZ & Moss, however, it doesn’t matter who’s on steamer duty. I’ve had three different people froth my milk and it’s thick, rich and creamy every time, with a strong coffee kick lurking within. It also doesn’t hurt that the staff are super friendly (and attractive) and the food is all amazing – especially the Nutella brioche. The only flat white I’ve had that rivals EZ & Moss’, so far, is Bond Street Coffee in Brighton. And believe me, I’ve had a lot.

*“Are You Being Served?” – season 4 episode 22…

Beavertown – ‘Spresso Imperial Espresso Stout

beavertown-spresso-coffee-stout

I’m not a huge stout fan but I do like the thought of a dark, coffee-enriched dessert beer every now and again. And when I heard Beavertown had teamed up with Caravan Coffee Roasters for the ‘Spresso Imperial Espresso Stout, I was all over it.

Brewed with more than 40kgs of roasted Caravan beans and boasting a mighty 9.5% ABV, the ‘Spresso is one tall, dark drink of beer. It’s rich, decadent and bittersweet, packed with hickory, treacle and a heady roasted coffee aroma. It’s also strong and boozy, yet smooth, velvety and moreish. Like a beery espresso martini that lasts more than four sips.

ABV: 9.5%
Malt: Best Pale, Golden Promise, Brown, Low Colour Choc, Crystal, Carafa II, Oats, Molasses
Hops: Magnum

spresso

Dark Arts Coffee – Lucky Dip

dark arts coffee, heavens gate

So I placed another order with Dark Arts Coffee and the damn thing didn’t show up. I emailed them, asking what was going on, and a dude replied straight away. He apologised and said he’d pop another order in the post and fast track it to arrive the next day. And it did!

Originally, I ordered a bag of Holy Mountain (apricot, dark chocolate) and a bag of Heaven’s Gate (poached nectarines, cranberries). But to make up for the mix-up, I guess, Dark Arts threw in another bag of Heaven’s Gate and a bag of Lost Highway (orange, chocolate) – I know what you’re thinking, they all sound like titles of David Lynch films, right?

Anyway, I just opened the bag of Lost Highway and ground up some beans. Reviews coming soon.

F*ckoffee – Jonestown Roasters

jonestown roasters coffee beans

Jonestown Roasters’/F*ckoffee’s beans don’t promise any notes of lilac and blueberry cheesecake. Instead, the bag reads, “Produce of Papua New Guinea. Ingredients; coffee beans.” Sweet. Simple. Like a rich dark chocolate without any popping candy or honeycomb.

I picked up a 1 KG bag from Brick Lane Coffee once and haven’t looked back, topping it up – with a free flat white – whenever I run out. And though my head might turn from time to time, lusting after something more extravagant-sounding, with notes of orange chocolate or cranberry “for sweetness,” Jonestown Roasters is my go-to bean.

jonestown roasters coffee beans whole

The coffee is strong, powerful and bursting with flavour. And it makes a rich, aromatic flat white with a sweet, ballsy coffee kick. Even the bean itself looks bigger, more robust, darker and bolder than other beans. Less delicate. The kind of coffee bean that eats other beans for breakfast.

Based in Bermondsey Street, south east London, F*ckoffee uses single origin organic arabica beans from Papua New Guinea’s Purosa region. And according to the official site, the beans are grown in the shade, surrounded by rainforest and enriched by volcanic soil and the ideal amount of rainfall. Highly recommended.

Dark Arts Coffee – Shake Me Lucifer & Mother Tongue

Dark arts coffee

Lately, I’ve really got into making coffee. Grind the beans. Load up the filter basket. Froth the milk. Everything short of latte art (watch this space). And since I’ve been buying my own beans there’s one almost mythical Holy Grail roasting company I’ve been dying to rediscover.

A while back I picked up a bag of Dark Arts Coffee at Brick Lane Coffee. It was delicious. And when I went back to top up I was told that they didn’t sell it anymore. Since then the company only seemed to exist on Instagram and Twitter, and in a few select coffee shops around London.

Sporadically, I’d check on the company’s progress and always find the message “web store coming soon.” Then, suddenly, it was there. And from the looks – and sounds of things – it had been worth the wait.

Besides the delicious-sounding coffee menu, the design’s slick and fittingly dark. The three main dudes, Bradley Morrison, Colin Mitchell and Jamie Strachan – “our story coming soon” – look like a Scandinavian black metal band, posing in front of a poster for brutally dark cult b-movie Satan’s Sadists. Off-puttingly, the lead character’s waistcoat has a swastika on it. I’m sure they’re not Nazis, but it’s a strange, somewhat disturbing choice for a company portrait. Then again, their logo’s a middle finger.

(Before discovering this) I ordered a bag of Lucifer Shake Me and Mother Tongue. The beans arrived a few days later and I got grinding.

Lucifer Shake Me was my instant favourite. The Ethiopian, Rocko Mt. Reserve beans are lighter than the Jonestown Roasters beans I’ve been using lately. They’re smoother and moreish as well, and you can genuinely pick up the floral, blueberry and lime notes.

Contrastingly, the Colombian, Incan descendent-grown Mother Tongue beans are darker, more acidic and chocolatey, with notes of orange and peach. And so far, Lucifer Shake Me’s my favourite, but I’ll keep working on my Mother Tongue and see if I can get it tasting as special.