I feel its time to rant a little on the blog, and I also feel its time for a little commentary on the industry I live and work in.
OK so maybe rant is a bit strong, but throw out opinion and thought.
A recent blog post (shout out to Alex Redgate http://awlred.wordpress.com/) questions the community outside of the London scene or lack of it, and its kind of made we want to post about the “London Scene”. This is in no way a dig at Alex, hes a top man, and we love him here.
There has been a hum of “isn’t the London scene wonderful” and I must admit I agree, to a point. Its great to see our capitol city picking itself up introducing competition and diversity from what was a one horse city. But the swipes at lack of community outside of London disappoints me. It disappoints me as I hear it a lot from people that have no idea whats happening in our city’s around the country.
I personally think there is plenty of community outside of London, I also know there are many many amazing outlets outside of London. but like everything from down south they believe they do it best because of the transport links and of course the much larger audience. But lets not forget a few short years ago, there was Monmouth, there was flat white selling Monmouth and there was Fernandez and Wells selling Monmouth and that was it. Coffee tour was over in a flash in one of the most cosmopolitan city’s in the world. At this time the hub of the UK was on the Halifax, Huddersfield area, one that that was way ahead of London (just look at the northern heats compared to the canceled London UKBC).
If you Go to Scarborough, or Leeds, or Liverpool, or even Manchester now (for years a black hole of coffee culture) or Derby, Burton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York (and there are many more) there is at least one place to go to get a great coffee experience. But you have to look for them and often these people are just tring to run there business and don’t have time (or inclination) to create a scene.
I get tired of the “only good place is London blah, blah” its as boring as the other international destinations I’ve heard the same of (Vancouver, Copenhagen, Portland etc). This is not the fault of people doing great things in these city’s, to the contrary its because of them they have these powerful emerging coffee shops and roasters. Its also that a press is very city centered, take a look at the independents 50 best coffee shops, they seem to agree that most of the best are in London.
I tip my hat to everyone that makes these places stand out on the coffee maps of the world, but they quite often either spread the word effectively or empower there customers to do so and build a strong tribe that spread the word for them. Armed with a press that listens (and is normally a tube ride away) and these powerful advocates you can see why it happens.
But I know I haven’t been to 1% of the coffee shops in London village, let alone the many outside, so I cant write off every coffee shop, on what is or isn’t being done in them. So often we judge a coffee shop by the coffee roaster they use, or the machine and grinder they make it on or the decor they have fitted out their store with. The barista doesn’t seem matter so much how much care attention and pride they put into their shots. I bet you in every town there is someone who wants to make better coffee, I bet you in every chain store there is some one with the passion for better coffee that just doesn’t know it exists.
Don’t moan or grown that there isn’t a “scene” in your town but get off your backside and make that scene happen, organise something go into the coffee shops in your local town and speak to the baristas and see if they would be interested. Post blogs that inspire people in your local area I don’t know anything to drum up support.
Of course you could just move to London.