Coffee has been celebrated in London for a couple of centuries now. In this England of tea drinkers many signs have been set by coffee or by the love to it. In London you will find one of the most inspiring book collections on the topic when you visit the International Coffee Organization. When you walk into the space where this institution is housed, you immediately perceive the global importance of coffee. Precisely because of this global importance the ICO was established in 1963 after the first International Coffee Agreement was initiated a year earlier.
On a completely different note, in 1688 Edward Lloyd started operating a coffee-house and because the establishment was popular amongst merchants, sailors and ship owners, Lloyd supplied them daily with news important to them, known as the Lloyd’s List. The coffee-house and the insurance deals developed, the latter surpassing the former. Today Lloyd’s of London resides in an architectural Landmark, conceived by Richard Rogers. Within the Lloyd’s idea the coffee did not develop much, but elsewhere in London the Penny Universities did. Yet another sign of the liveliness of coffee and its celebrated status in England were the Penny Universities. For as little as one pence the London upper-class businessmen, students, artists, politicians, intellectuals and many others socialized. Hence they were seen as the place where one could pick up more useful knowledge, than by reading a book.
A Proper Cup of Coffee
And now London is celebrating again – all about and around coffee. From the 8th until the 10th of April - right now! – London Coffee Festival celebrates coffee with music and a good cause. There will be lots of good coffee, lots of water and lots of music, i.e., from A Proper Cup of Coffee.
It’s not every day you wear a coffee cup hat by Bailey Tomlin, but UK Coffee Week presents the perfect opportunity to indulge in coffee, cake, and live music, (and coffee cup hats!) -all for a good cause.
UK Coffee Week is raising money for Project Waterfall, (via Water Aid) which is aiming to provide people in African coffee-growing countries with clean drinking water. During the week, cafés are adding 5p onto the normal price of a coffee and the proceeds go to Project Waterfall. Although it doesn’t sound much, the organisers hope it may raise tens of thousands of pounds for Project Waterfall.
Coffee and Water
Coffee is second only to oil as a commodity, with annual worldwide consumption around 12 billion pounds. There are about 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries producing coffee around the world. It takes about 272 pints of water to make one cup of coffee. The figure that inspired me to do something was that 5,000 children die every day from diseases caused by unsafe water.
Our contribution to Project Waterfall is to give a string of performances of vintage coffee songs for coffee lovers at cafés across London for UK Coffee Week. Some of the cafés below are holding special ticketed events, with cakes and coffee or wine and nibbles included in the price, and other open events have a suggested £5 donation. We end the week singing at the London Coffee Festival.
A Proper Cup of Coffee will be performing at:
- Sugahill in Sydenham is locally renowned for its wonderfully fresh food, “such a nice little cafe at Cobbs Corner and the sandwiches and panini are delicious – there is such a variety too” with its beautiful art for sale on the walls.
- Caffe Casbah-”Cafe Casbah is a great place to eat. The food is very good and the staff are welcoming” – with its mouth-watering cakes including Algerian cakes with infused with rosewater, is the coffee jewel of Penge.
- The ever popular Pavilion Cafe “a shining example of how a park cafe should be: a bright, friendly place offering fine, home-made food and more importantly, great cakes!” is surrounded by breathtaking Dulwich Park.
- Good Taste Food is a new, unmissable culinary treasure trove in Crystal Palace. “Really nice feel to the shop, I sat on a small table to have my tasty, full-bodied flat white and nibble on some cheese samples. Will be returning to buy some Malawi single crop coffee. Roasted by new kid on the block, Volcano Coffee.”
- Cafe St Germain “A lazy sunday morning favourite of mine. Varied menu, excellent coffee and a cosy atmosphere” is listed as one of the top 20 cycle cafés in the UK, and looks as if it has been transported from the banks of the Seine to Crystal Palace, complete with French style awnings and baskets of flowers outside.
- Petitou Cafe in Peckham has a wonderful bohemian, cultured yet warm feel to it, you simply couldn’t choose the wrong dish there. “A charming café at the leafier end of Peckham, Petitou is just around the corner from the boutiques and art bookshops of Bellenden Road… fundamentally wholesome food, overlaid with a degree of nostalgia..the sort of place where you could easily lose an afternoon.”
- M&S Cafe in Bromley is a consistently reliable quality stop at The Glades Shopping Centre.
- Cafe Vintage in Stoke Newington have fabulous vintage clothes within the cafe- ”had some great coffee, a pink lemonade and a sandwich I could barely get my mouth around! The vintage clothes are well-chosen. “
- Euphorium Bakery in Islington “The cakes and pastries in here are absolutely stunning” features a Madame Tralala (who offer vintage weekends in Paris!) mini boutique at the same time, so be prepared to find something fabulous where you weren’t expecting it…
We hope you can make it to one of our performances for a bit of evocative, nostalgic cafe culture with your coffee that week! “All I want is a proper cup of coffee” (from “A Proper Cup of Coffee”)