Tag Archives: espresso

Hoxton North Espresso and Brew Bar, Harrogate

Recently I wrote a piece on North Star Micro Roasters Inaugural Cupping Eventwell soon after I was contacted by Hoxton North Espresso and Brew Bar who happen to be friends with North Star. They had seen my blog review and invited me to check out their new place. Trying to develop my tastes in coffee further and always loving Harrogate, I thought why not, so I combined it with meeting a mate and got the train from Headingley train station. I’d forgotten how easy it is to get the train from Leeds to Harrogate, normally I would just drive but this is quicker, less hassle and possibly cheaper, my return ticket was only £6-7 (half of a duo ticket with a friend).

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Hoxton North Espresso and Brew Bar is an independent specialist coffee shop, located on Parliament Street serving espresso, filter based coffee and also whole or ground beans for use at home. The origin of the name comes from Hoxton, the district in the East End of London, situated in the heart of Shoreditch. Owners, husband and wife team Timothy and Victoria Bosworth, both originally from Yorkshire, have spent the last ten years in London where Shoreditch has become a hot spot for great food, bars and cafe culture. They wanted to bring that passion and lifestyle back to the North of England so opened this shop earlier in October.

Hoxton North is located in a Grade II listed building which dates back to the Edwardian 1920s, so the team had to maintain the original features, such as timber panelling, architraves and mirrors are from a previous shop that inhabited the space called Louis Cope. Louis Cope sold fashionable items, such as robes, lingerie, fur coats, bags and shoes to wealthy tourists and locals. As soon as I walked in I thought it looked gorgeous and I loved the feel of the space, how faithful they’ve been to its original details, and used these as well as their own design ideas with beautiful effect. 

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They have designed the space in such a way, with the espresso and brew bar running through the middle of the shop, and want people to use it as a place where they can relax and chat, whether your a Harrogate local or one of the many tourists which visit the place.

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One of the first things I noticed on the counter was the wonderful selection of cakes and sweet treats they have to accompany your drink of choice. Vicky and Tim searched long and hard for top class bakeries which could supply them with the best cakes and pastries to match the quality of their coffees and teas. They seem to have hit the jackpot, from what we tasted anyway!!! Dumouchel, a bakery based in Garforth, Leeds makes the most AMAZING Brioche slice, I secretly didn’t want to divulge which bakery makes it and try to keep it too myself because it was absolutely delicious!!! Incredibly moist with the perfect balance of almond sweetness and sharpness from the raspberries, an inspired bake. We also tried their brownie and a chocolate mocha cake, both very good, even though I’m not much of a chocolate fan they were moist, gooey and had great subtle flavour, in particular the mocha cake from That Old Chestnut, a bakery from Mabgate, Leeds.

Chocolate brownies
Chocolate brownie
Date flapjack
Date flapjack
Huge Pain au raisin
Huge Pain au raisin!!
Brioche slice with raspberry and almond
Brioche slice with raspberry and almond

So what have they got on offer to drink, they specialise in artisan coffees and offer a range that changes according to seasonality. They use hand selected roasters from around the world and have picked out each roaster and farm that they feel is the best in its class or region. Some of their coffee comes from Workshop Coffee Company, who are based in Clerkenwell, London and Origin Coffee Roasters from Cornwall, while their tea comes from Brew Tea Company. That day on their menu they were serving the Origin (F30) Espresso Blends from El Salvador and Nicaragua, and  Workshops Cult of Done (V14) coffee – 100% Ethiopian. Vicky was more than happy to describe these to us and showed an obvious passion about these products.

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We drank our coffees and ate our cakes in their cute snug, which is hidden from normal view at the side of the shop. I loved it in there, it felt intimate, like you were slightly cut off from the rest of the shop. It can hold up to 6 guests and also be reserved for breakfast, lunch or drinks. Our coffees were great, my friend who is a lover of coffee even said it’s the best he’s had. I really enjoyed my latte, normally I find them a little bitter and always need sugar, but this didn’t at all and was wonderful as it was.

The snug
The snug
Latte
Latte
My Brioche Slice with almond and raspberry from Doumouchel
Brioche Slice with almond and raspberry
YUmmy chocolate Brownie
Chocolate Brownie
Chocolate mocha cake from That Old Chestnut
Chocolate mocha cake 

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Being a local, independent shop in the Harrogate community is important to Vicky and Tim, and in the future they would like to host different social events, including coffee tastings, brew bar sessions, pop-up events, book launches, poetry readings, live music sessions to bring the local community together.

I definitely recommend Hoxton North Espresso and Brew Bar, it’s a great place to relax, run by really lovely people. I for one will be visiting every time I’m in Harrogate. It’ll be perfect for going to after I’ve been to the Harrogate Turkish Baths. I can’t wait to visit both, hopefully very soon!!

Hoxton North Espresso and Brew Bar
52 Parliament Street 
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
HG1 2RL
Opening Hours: Tues – Fri: 8:30am – 5pm Sat: 09:30am – 5pm Sun: 10:00am – 4pm You can follow them on Twitter @hoxtonnorth or facebook. com/hoxtonnorth.
http://hoxtonnorth.com

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Inaugural Cupping event @ North Star Micro Roasters, Leeds

Of all the non-alcoholic beverages I drink coffee isn’t really one of them, I may order a caffè latte (which maybe a bit lame to coffee connoisseurs), but in general I drink it very rarely. On Thursday afternoon I’d received a message on Twitter from North Star Micro Roasters, a Leeds based company who’s primary ethos is to produce coffee from ethically sourced Arabica beans.

IMG_4636They are based on Meanwood Road in close proximity to other Leeds Independents Leeds Bread Co-op and Ridgeside Brewery, and had very kindly invited me to their Inaugural Cupping event, I had no idea what a cupping event was, but I was really intrigued so drove down that evening. As soon as I walked in I saw sacks of their coffee beans stood next to their roaster called Roxanne – a 5KG Toper and a whole host of people from local businesses, friends and family.

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DSC_0444Within the first five minutes I had spoken to two people involved in this new venture, born in April this year. Being pretty much a coffee virgin, with virtually zero knowledge about coffee I was quickly involved in a conversation about how each stage of the process was performed from picking the perfect coffee beans to roasting them to perfection, culminating in a coffee which possessed a consistency of flavour with each batch of beans. I had no idea it was so technical and being a science teacher by day, found it quite scientific. 

They have a range of single origin coffees for pour over and two house espresso blends – Czar Street Seasonal Espresso and Dark Arches Espresso. Part of their work at the roastery will be dedicated to collaborating with businesses in order to create bespoke blends unique to their individual tastes. 

What was also great to hear was their interest and commitment to the people who work on the land and do all the growing, picking and processing. North Star are working with Harrogate based Falcon Speciality Green Coffee Importers and both share the same ethos of sustainability, where fair prices are paid to farmers for coffee, the land is used in a way that respects the environment and the continuous improvement of coffee flavour profiles are all at the heart of their business. In turn this will hopefully build relationships that will last and prosper, allowing farmers to continually re-invest. All of North Star coffee is fully traceable, fully certified internationally or audited by Falcon trained social auditors, which ensures that the land where our coffee is grown and the people who grow it are treated with respect.

For the inaugural cupping we saw Roxanne, the 5kg Toper in its element roasting a batch for the evening and during this the profile of the beans was being monitored in terms of the beans temperature to ensure a consistent flavour profile for each batch.

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Mike Riley from Falcon Speciality Green Importers, who’d previously work for Taylors of Harrogate for 25 years as Head of Coffee introduced the cupping event and showed an infectious passion for his craft, he spoke lyrically about each coffee that would be tasted, its origin and flavour notes. For the next hour or so people were invited to taste away, comparing coffee from different areas be it Nicaragua, Columbia, Ethiopia and Rwanda to name a few. Coffee was also being used on the La Marcocco Linea espresso machine by expert Barista Ellis Hall, this would also be available for training at the roastery as part of their service to customers.

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DSC_0465There was a great buzz to the whole event and it showed that maybe I’m missing out here and should give coffee a try. One of the best things about the Leeds food and drink scene currently is the collaboration and support between independent ventures, on the night they had drafted in food from neighbour Leeds Bread Coop, pizza from Dough Boys and tamales from El Topo. Drinks were supplied by another neighbour Ridgeside Brewery.

Leeds Coop bread
Leeds Co-op bread
Cherry and chocolate tamales from El Topo
Cherry and chocolate tamales from El Topo

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It was a great evening showcasing coffees from another Leeds independent business. I think I left with a feeling that was evident from the start, that this team at North Star really show an innate passion for the humble coffee bean and this I’m sure can only be a wonderful thing. Leeds is certainly lucky to have them. I’d really like to visit them again in the near future and give coffee, which I hadn’t really given a chance before, a proper try. If it’s through a local, independent venture like this, which encourages me to enjoy this beverage then all the better for it!!!

North Star Micro Roasters
Unit 27
Penraevon Industrial Est.
Jackson Road
Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS7 2AP
http://northstarroast.com
http://leedsbread.coop
http://www.el-topo.co.uk
http://www.ridgesidebrewery.co.uk 

Ristorante Strega @ Piazza del Viminale, Rome – guest blog by Phillip Cowan

Ciao!
After a hard afternoon of sipping various cocktails, nibbling on a multitude of Antipasti, the call comes through from my good friend Diane.. “Maybe you could guest my next food blog?”
Well, that was a challenge not to be ignored, and as I was in the food capital of the world, how could I resist??
As soon as I saw the invite the mind started racing, where, when and what shall we eat?? My immediate thoughts were Pizza or pasta, or antipasti, or cheese, or meat, or oh, who knows what! Rome really is the home of all food good!!
As we headed out to find somewhere, we were taken by the flashiness of a restaurant only two minutes from the hotel; it’s neon shining and fires glowing (a tad touristy but hey we were tourists). We couldn’t resist. The menu looked like staple Italian fare, antipasti, primo, secondi etc.. But it was a lovely spot and full of people looking well fed so we went with it.
Anyway, we were quickly seated. The dining room was tables in the road and covered by the normal restaurant style parasols but they had took it a step further, with very pretty lights draped down the sides, as well as vines covering the exposed walls, all in all a pleasant place to be!
The service was very prompt, which was impressive as the courtyard setting was full of eager diners. Aperitifs were in order, so two gin and tonics were ordered. It has to be said these arrived quite watery and flat, but hey that’s the price you pay for the Italian sun!
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A quick look over the menu (and next doors recently delivered appetisers) led us to order what can only be described as a huge portion of fresh melon and salty ham. After a long day in the sun the sweetness of the melon was very refreshing and the saltiness of the ham combined perfectly.

Melon and ham
Melon and ham

Pleased with our selection we looked forward to the main course. First the wine arrived (my wife had ordered it but I was the one to check and approve of it!) and it was really an inspired choice. It was the most expensive bottle on the menu, but at 48 EUR it was a bargain!

The main course duly arrived, pasta carbonara for me and sea bass for her. The sea bass was served in a potato rosti, the plate came resembling a giant finely sliced waffle. The carbonara arrived sitting snugly in its own cheese basket. Both dishes looked good and we set about them with gusto! By this point the conversation from our well traveled American neighbours at the next table became so intriguing we forgot the food and listened in. Apparently Shakespeare got the story bang on about Caesar and Greece had clearly showed the best approach to economic security but had been let down by the EU. We both learned a lesson from that!

Seabass in potato rosti
Seabass in potato rosti
Pasta carbonara
Pasta carbonara

Tables cleared, the glutton that is me decided that there was enough room for dessert! And what a dessert! Tiramisu is always a favourite, but this was light, fluffy and sitting atop a lovely pool of espresso! The cream, chocolate and coffee were perfectly balanced, finished off by a real Italian espresso.

Tiramisu
Tiramisu

A perfect end to a very good “tourist” meal.

Ristorante Strega
Piazza del Viminale, 27/31
00184 Rome
Italy