Tag Archives: Mrs Athas

Olia Hercules – The Wild East photoblog!!

Leeds Indie Food Festival has been in full swing for a week now, having a limited amount of time and budget I’ve had to consider my choices wisely. Out of all the dining experiences going on, I wanted to try something new, apart from bringing the talents of Leeds and further afield together, I think it’s something the festival has encouraged.

The event that struck out to me was ‘The Wild East’, a Ukrainian supper by London based chef Olia Hercules, working in collaboration with Marko Husak (Bundobust) and with the beautiful interior of local coffee shop Mrs Atha’s as the backdrop. Having not much knowledge of Olia, it was soon apparent that this lady certainly knew her culinary stuff, having worked with the likes of Yottam Ottolenghi and been named a Rising Star of 2015 by the Observer, as well as being a food writer with her own cook book!

Last night we were treated to a feast of delights, with Olia’s roots in Ukrainian food, she brought us traditional dishes along with food from Georgia, including an intriguing Soviet Korean carrot salad. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have grabbed a ticket for this event, you’re in for a treat with an absolutely delicious dining experience from Olia. All the proceeds are going to charities who are helping children who’s lives have been affected by the war in Ukraine. 

Here are some photos from the evening:

Green Borscht – Duck broth w/ sorrel and chopped egg
Sourdough made with Ukrainian hop flowers
Schneider Weisse Tap 7
Roasted beetroot, prune and walnut salad
Georgian poussin w/ tarragon, coriander, basil, dill and wild garlic
Rolled aubergine

Soviet Korean pickled carrot salad
Tabaka – Georgian poussin w/ pickled carrots, Georgian beans with crispy shallots, rolled aubergine, a roasted beetroot, prune and walnut salad, plum chutney and sourdough
Syrnyk – Ukrainian curd cheesecake w/ rhubarb compot
Meringue 
Coffee – courtesy of Mrs Atha’s

I hope you enjoy the evening as much as I did!!

Leeds Indie Food Festival

Mrs Athas

Central Road

Leeds

LS1 6DE

Coffee Cupping @ La Bottega Milanese, Leeds

La Bottega Milanese had their first coffee cupping event a little while ago at their recently opened coffee shop on Bond Court. If you’ve not been to La Bottega’s newest coffee shop, you really must as Alex Galantino has done such a beautiful job on getting the place fitted out, it looks fantastic!

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The original plan was for roastery The Grumpy Mule to showcase their coffee, but sadly they were unable to attend. As always, the show must go on, so fortunately a number of fantastic baristas from well-known coffee shops around Leeds and it’s surrounding areas were on hand to help out with their coffee expertise instead. Another typical example of how Leeds’ coffee community works together so well, with the likes of Adam (Opposite), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso) bringing a selection of coffees along for the event.

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There seemed to be a varying amount of cupping experience amongst us, so Alex was more than happy to ease us into the procedure. I really liked this because it showed us that whatever experience and knowledge we had with coffee, it was an event that could cater for everyone, regardless of any limitations we may have.

Alex briefly explained how the aim of a cupping session was to compare and contrast coffees against each other. Six different coffees with slightly different flavour profiles, produced by a range of well-known roasters using beans from a variety of countries would be showcased. He drew our attention to taking tasting notes, possibly drawing out a wheel of flavour to compare each coffee. The most popular coffee would then be used to produce coffee to drink using an  Aeropress.

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Here’s a brief run through of the cupping procedure:

1. Smell the ground coffee – is there are difference between ground and not ground? Some coffees had been processed in different methods, e.g. processed/washed would give differences in how clean their flavours were.

I even surprised myself when I got a noseful of the Hasbean coffee, which had a huge whack of strawberry that instantly filled my nostrils. Earlier that morning I’d had a bowl of strawberries for breakfast and it reminded me of that immediately. 

2. Each coffee was brewed for 4 minutes by added hot water of a specific temperature (not boiling) onto the coffee grounds, allowing an even extraction and the formation of a crust. 

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3. The surface of the crust was broken by using a spoon to push the grounds down with three swift movements. The aromas released would give an indication of what was to come during tasting.  Quickly the cups had the ground coffee removed before the slurping process could begin.

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4. People started to work their way through each coffee, slurping away, getting the coffee to coat the tongue to taste, comparing them at different temperatures. 

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A quick analysis of opinions was garnered to see what people thought. 

There was a general consensus that the Grumpy Mule tasted the most ‘ordinary’ – with a more bitter taste, it tasted like a more traditional, standard coffee. This was unlike the others as they had been roasted much lighter to develop flavour profiles.

The San Agustin roasted by Square Mile seemed to be a popular choice – an easy drinking coffee and not too bitter. As it started to cool its taste began to resemble tea. The Yirgacheffe, (Square Mile) was found to be very floral, with bergamot notes. We were told that fully washed coffees produce lovely bright fruit flavours. 

The Nicaraguan Hasbean coffee was also a popular choice, it certainly stood out as the flavours produced were very intense with fruit. Matt explained that these beans were massive, due to being grown slowly at high altitude. After undergoing a natural process, rather than being washed like others, fermentation allows levels of texture and flavour to intensify, resulting in really jammy coffee full of strawberry.

During each cupping session there is always so much to take in and learn and I always feel completely out of my depth, but at the same time feel I am very slowly learning more a bit at a time. I would highly recommend going to a cupping event if you’ve not been to one before!!

Their next cupping session is this Sunday, when La Bottega will be hosting The Coffee Officina  roasters from Essex.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!!

La Bottega Milanese
2 Bond Court
Leeds
LS1 2JZ
0113 2454242
http://www.labottegamilanese.co.uk

Mrs Atha’s – The North’s Coffee Community, pt IV

The start of my series on The North’s coffee community concentrated on Leeds’ three original independents, now I’d like to focus on more recently established coffee haunts.

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Mrs Atha’s opened in October 2012 by owners Jonathan and Warren. Found around the back of House of Fraser, Mrs Atha’s has quickly become one of the most quirky and interesting independent coffee shops to have opened in recent years. With such established shops almost with landmark status in Leeds coffee, Mrs Atha’s has had to find it own way into the hearts and minds of Leeds folk.

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They’ve completely transformed a space into a beautiful coffee shop, with a boutiquey ambience, reminiscent of a bohemian New York vibe that’s just perfect for relaxing in. The team at Mrs Atha’s want it to be somewhere you can eat, drink, socialise, read, plug in your Macbook and work if necessary. With dimmed lighting and even table lamps, Wifi and plug sockets a plenty it’s tailor made for this. With the combination of great coffee and food in the mix, it’s sounds pretty good – don’t you think?

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The interior is slightly bohemian, with a feel of the industrial about it. One large wall is left with exposed red brick and a statement RSJ beam handsomely frames the displayed art work, whereas the opposite wall counterbalances this with some sort of polished plaster (stucco). Complete with quirky, yet functional furniture, it’s definitely a place to spend a few hours in very relaxed surroundings. They are also blessed to have extra seating downstairs, which also houses their open kitchen.

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OK, so what about the coffee, well this is expertly sourced and selected by the team. With Scott who’s previously worked at La Bottega Milanese, and Matt the two main men when it comes to the coffee they have baristas with a tonne of knowledge, in some cases to the point of obsession with the drink. They use their own blend of coffee from roasters Has-Bean and often host guest coffees.

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The knowledge and attention to detail they have I found incredible. In my limited time learning more about the drink, I’d never met a full-on coffee geek till I met Matt, a self-confessed coffee connoisseur/aficionado. This is where it gets scientific! To get the perfect cup each time they have fine-tuned their coffee depending on the amount of TDS in each shot of coffee, that’s ‘total dissolved solids’ to you and me. Knowing exactly the precise parameters to work with so the % TDS fall within a certain range – resulting in a coffee that has undergone optimum extraction and possesses the perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness etc. I also learned the importance of water temperature and for this they have an Über boiler (LOVE the name). It delivers exact volumes of water at exact temperatures, giving the barista control over different parameters for each individual cup. They also recently bought a serious bit of kit – the EK-43 grinder which has the ability to grind beans into a whole array of finenesses, allowing coffee to have a greater level of clarity and definition. All VERY GEEKY!!

I NEVER had any inclination whatsoever that coffee was so scientific. Being a so-called science teacher in my normal, boring life I found this really interesting and it made me want to find out more, so I even spent time looking it up!!  I don’t think I’ll turn into a coffee geek just yet, but it was a little addictive researching it!

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With Warren’s interest in interiors, it’s no surprise that Mrs Atha’s are a big supporter of local artists and always have work displayed for sale. Some may think the space is a little pretentious, but as an ardent art/museum/exhibition lover I really liked the aesthetic it provides the space with. 

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On the food side they showcase local producers, such as That Old Chestnut with a selection of Vegan cakes and their bread comes from Bondgate Bakery. The have a very supportive network, including family friends who bake much loved cakes for Mrs Atha’s, and they are so good that they have built up of following of visitors who come not necessarily for the type of cake, but because it’s made by this particular person. A great testament to the baker I think!
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A good selection of loose leaf teas are also available, which they are proud to know their exact provenance, drunk from one of their gorgeous vintage tea cups, and a slice of cake…ahhhh lovely!
They have plans to drive Mrs Atha’s forward in the future – last year they had a pop-up restaurant which went down really well. So they’d like to build on this with more of an emphasis on dining, not just cakes and sandwiches which they already do. I hear they already serve cracking breakfasts and lunches, I really need to try out these for myself ASAP!
Other possible plans include holding events/courses to educate about the nuances and technical side to making a great cup. With Scott and Matt’s knowledge and passion I’m sure these courses will be very popular.
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I’ve been a number of times and I must admit the coffee is pretty great. Whatever they do with the whole science/coffee geekery it certainly works! The people at Mrs Atha’s are lovely, friendly and interesting. Always wearing a fab selection of hats and more than willing to educate and inform the customer, which I really like. 

Mrs Atha’s

Central Road
Leeds
LS1 6DE
http://mrsathasleeds.com/
Opening Hours: Monday-Tuesday 9am-6pm, Wednesday 8am-6pm, Thursday-Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 10am-5pm.

North Star Latte Art Throwdown @ North Star Micro Roasters, Leeds

One of my 2013 blog highlights was North Star Micro Roasters Inaugural Cupping Event.  Since their initial launch North Star have gone from strength to strength, building a large following of coffee lovers in Leeds and beyond.

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Wednesday was the day of their Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown Championships, held at their premises in Meanwood. I’ve been a little obsessed with the whole latte art thing over the last few months after seeing a latte with a Darth Vadar design, to the point where I’ve even been really sad watching YouTube clips and making my husband watch them! 

For people not in the know, Latte art is where coffee is made by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso which results in a  pattern on the surface.

headed down after school with my friend Alice to meet some coffee folk, watch in awe and of course take some photos!! We’d wondered which baristas would be competing, with such great places to get coffee in Leeds at the moment we were optimistic, such as Laynes, Opposite, Mrs Athas and La Bottega Milanese to name a well known few. really decent crowd were already there when we arrived at North Star Headquarters, and Krag and Ellis, the boys at the helm of North Star were there hosting.  

When Ellis announced the competitors we weren’t far wrong, representing Leeds were baristas from Froth ‘n’ Fodder, Cielo, La Bottega Milanese, Mrs AthasNotes and also Ellis from North Star. Also vying for the crown were baristas from further afield – Bean and Bud and Baltzersens hailing from HarrogateUpshot Espresso from Sheffield, Grumpy Mule from Meltham and finally Crema Espresso from Bridlington.

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Independent food produce was also on show during the event with fantastic bread from theLeeds Bread Co-op, paired with yummy chutney fromMade by Jim, unctuous brownies and caramels from Sarah at Noisette Bakehouse, and lastly beautiful meat and cheese platters supplied byBaltzersens.

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Ok, so apologies for my trigger happy camera finger, I know it happens a lot, but I managed to take 300+ photos during the evening!!! I’ve tried to be good and have whittled it down to a compilation of photos that hopefully tell the tale of the competition.

The rules for the 1st round were that competitors would battle it out head to head, they could pour any design they wanted into a 6oz cup, using a 12oz jug. Being watched by eagle-eyed judges – Adam from Opposite Cafe, Carl from Layne’s Espresso and Krag from North Star, competitors were judged using the following criteria:

  • balance and symmetry
  • colour definition
  • use of space
  • the overall pour

All of to be done under pressure with a crowd of their peers and latte art admirers!!!Here’s a compilation of the 1st round pours:

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In the 2nd round the ten remaining baristas had to pour a rosetta:

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Tulips were up next in the semi-finals:

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So after three rounds of a closely contested battle, the field of twenty hopefuls was down to the final three: Lenka (Bean and Bud), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso).

In the final round they had to use a 12oz jug to make a latte in a 6oz cup but also a piccolo, being as artistic as they dared with the design.

Matt from Mrs Athas
Matt from Mrs Athas
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Lenka from Bean and Bud
Lenka from Bean and Bud

The judges took a few minutes to deliberate and come to an agreement over their scores, in the meantime the crowd and the competitors waited with baited breath.

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A few minutes later Ellis announced the winner of this years Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown – Oakley from Crema Espresso!! He was the clear winner, with Lenka from Bean Bud in 2nd and Matt from Mrs Athas in 3rd. All very well deserved!!

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The winner – Oakley from Crema Espresso!!!

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So another great event at North Star, an evening full of shaky hands, tense moments, great camaraderie and sportsmanship. It was fantastic to meet some of the North’s independent coffee community and see them come out in force! Here’s to more cupping events and throwdowns in the future!!!

North Star Micro Roasters

Unit 27
Penraevon Industrial Estate
Jackson Road
Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS7 2AP