Around 2 weeks prior to Christmas saw the launch of two projects I’ve been waiting to come to fruition for some time. The party, held at Protein Gallery in Shoreditch, saw many of the London coffee industries most illustrous names come together for an evening of beer, art and streetfood in the form of outstanding hotdogs from Abiye’s Big Apple Hot Dogs.
The first of these is the much anticipated London Independant Coffee Book, hot on the heels of trial Brighton edition, this compact book is packed full of the only places in London worth visiting; it’s diminuitive size still managing to cast shadows over any of it’s predecessors or contemporaries. It’s clear that author Alex Evans has personally investigated and visited all the cafes and roasteries listed, you’ll find the write ups are honest, informative and insightful, beautiful photography is the work of one half of Dunnefrankowski, Vic Frankowski. The book is an absolute treasure and an asset to any Londoner or London visitor in search of a decent caffeine fix; there are no duds and no pretenders here. At the rate the coffee industry is growing right now, fingers crossed there’ll be updated future editions on the cards.
So the second was the stealth launch of brand new coffee bar run by Dunnefrankowski at Protein gallery. The two loveable East London rogues, who’s cupping class I wrote about last year, have been promising a pop up for some time so this should not come as too much of a surprise. Off the beaten track, the lean space is unsurprisingly ‘Shoreditch’ in look and feel, the bare walls and exposed fittings that some cafes might spend a fortune having designed, are handily just part of the local habitat. With no coffee available on launch night it requires another trip, and I make it down there this weekend just past. Due to some well placed media coverage, the little bar is buzzing with a steady stream of friends and customers throught the door.
When Rob Dunne, the other half of Dunnefrankowski, offers me a Kanguna PB brewed as a cupping filter, I quickly agree, although I’m not quite sure what he means and I find myself equally puzzled when he neatly arranges what looks like a Japanese tea set before me. It transpires they’ve taken inspiration from the ritualistic service of tea and even borrowed the equipment to do it. This is coffee served stripped back and cupping style, in it’s simplest form, it mirrors the unostentatious, pared back surroundings.
And if you think about it, to serve coffee as it is when you taste or ’cup’ makes perfect sense as this is how coffee is initially tasted and explored within the industry, it is in fact the brewing method that extracts coffee at it’s most sweet. At a time when many cafes are striving for that ‘perfect’ cup, Dunnefrankowski have gone back to the very beginning, placing the focus firmly back on taste. Proving there’s no need to overcomplicate the process, my brew is sweet and rich with a little sediment in the bottom, similar to that you’d find with a french press method of brewing. There’s even talk of turning a row of syphon brewers on a shelf into lightbulbs or fish bowls, in cheeky defiance of the pretentiousness that surrounds the process. I find this approach refreshing, Dunnefrankowski are very aware of the culture surrounding them, taking inspiration outside of their own industry and borrowing from others is something that I feel could benefit many industries. Certainly when looking at coffee and chocolate and the ceremony of tea, there are so many similarities that you imagine there is much knowledge that could be shared.
What I love about Rob and Vic is their insatiable hunger for learning; their lifestyle blog gives an insight into their eye for all things design, with their coffee adventures slotting neatly into that whole picture. Previously known for their already mentioned Sunday Club cupping and brewing classes, this bar is designed to challenge, teach and provoke. With no menus, the idea is to offer simply good coffee or various flights; a single coffee may be served in a range of different brews or a triplet of different coffees may be brewed in the same way to highlight different flavour profiles within the coffees. I’m particularly excited at the prospect of upcoming pairings; one of which, coffee and chocolate will have me making a definite and very quick return. The coffee bar is there for at least the next year, so make sure you visit while you have the chance; challenge your senses by drinking beautifully prepared and tasting coffee.