By Deborah Stevenson
Having friends who are baristas is the worst.
When I came to London, I was a coffee drinker. I loved my cup of joe in the morning - filter coffee (I didn’t know this term, obviously - I just called it coffee) with flavoured creamer in a massive mug to start my day off right.
Little, innocent me. So sweet, so full of dreams. With so much pocket change. Fast forward six years, and thanks to the influence of my barista friends, I have become a full-on coffee-addict. I know what kind of roast I like (medium). I know which roasters in London don’t mix well with my preferred mid-afternoon latte, and I avoid coffee shops that mutilate their beans with rinses that don’t mix well with my palate. I also don’t like beans with fruity notes, and naturally, I prefer them to be grown organically in small farms and then walked - not flown, too bad for the environment - to my cafe of choice, to which I shall run, bike, or walk in order to minimise my ecological footprint.
But in all seriousness, I now have over ten mates who are baristas. While it is true that I have become a raging coffee snob (raging only pre-caffeine. Post-caffeine, I am civil, even kind, and I love to meet my fellow addicts at our daily meetings in the cafes across the capital), I also have several different cafes where I can pop in, have a chat, maybe have a free coffee, and take the perfect flat-lay of the latte art that everybody seems to be practising these days. I love the coffee scene in London. For a city that is labeled the loneliest city in the world, Londoners certainly love to talk about coffee. Or over coffee. I love sitting at the counter of Kahaila Cafe on Brick Lane and chatting with the strangers who sit with me. I love cramming into the tiny new branch of Redemption Roasters next to Smithfield Fish Market, because the tables are so close to the baristas that you have to leave good friends. And I am always delighted to have work meetings at Attendant in Fitzrovia, because where else can schedule a meeting in a public loo? Cafe culture breaks into our carefully constructed worlds of isolation, which we protect with sharp elbows and noise-cancelling headphones. It draws us out of ourselves (thank you, caffeine) and gives us a common interest that lets us begin talking. And once we’ve started talking… …we won’t finish til all of those double shots are out of our system!