"Whilst studying, I worked in restaurants and cafes and found myself obsessed with most aspects of hospitality. I love food but was never drawn into the commercial side of cooking, preferring to dine in amazing spaces or cooking something delicious myself at home. Very quickly I discovered that the complexity of flavours found in food and wine was also found in coffee. I enjoyed the interaction with customers as I prepared their brew each morning and the feeling of community with regular people coming in each day.

When I moved to London I did a few consulting spots for small cafes before going to work for a big coffee company looking after training and engineering. This showed me a different side to the coffee industry and really made me appreciate the next project I was to take on which was assisting with the opening and running of Caravan Coffee Roasters.

Having gained a huge passion for specialty coffee and the possibilities of bringing this to a wider audience, the idea came about to try and roll out a programme for Soho House & Co. The opportunity to influence real and sustainable change across a global group and the effects this could have on the communities supported by the specialty coffee trade seemed far too exciting a prospect to pass up.

With coffee we see a stand out product every year, and it's generally hailing from a different roaster than the last. I do remember the first time I tried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Dumerso, a coffee that my dear friend and colleague at the time Estelle Bright had chosen as her UK Barista championships coffee in 2014. It was incredible, tasting of succulent strawberries and its pronounced fruit flavours were unlike like anything I had tried before. Roasted by Caravan Coffee Roasters, this coffee absolutely grabbed people’s attention in 2014."

 

 

"Coffee is a fascinating product that is always evolving. I think it probably moves a little slower than food trends but equally I guess that depends on the individual’s level of involvement. The coffee community is very small, many of us know each other and love to share ideas and discoveries. The specialty coffee community is growing substantially and yet no one thinks of other specialty shops as competition – really we all want to jointly compete against high street chains. Increasingly we are witnessing these chains influenced by the small guys, with the mass adoption of the flat white being the most obvious example.

Cold brew has been huge over the last few years and then came Nitro Cold Brew. The next big thing seems to be cold brew G&T. I would prefer to think of the next ‘trend’ as being restaurants taking coffee more seriously and investing in educating their staff and customers. I think that far too many Michelin star restaurants are still serving well below par coffee, some even choosing to use Nespresso as a finish to their painstakingly crafted menus. How can a customer go to a place that dedicates its time and resources to perfecting a culinary masterpiece, only to finish it off with a mass produced coffee that is made at the push of a button?

I often get asked what my favourite café is and the top 10% are all of such a high standard it's impossible to pick, 'favourite' becomes a subjective choice where you rejoice at details such as location, serves and atmosphere.

I primarily drink a Chemex at home. It's the perfect way to produce a few cups for sharing and I actually find it very relaxing making coffee this way. I find brewing on a Chemex produces fantastic coffee with real clarity and flavor, but it really depends on which coffee you’re using. If I am not using a Chemex, I will sometimes use a Hario V60 or an aeropress to make a single cup for myself where the coffee is better suited to this method.

Who says that coffee should taste like ‘coffee’? For me it should taste of where it's come from, how it was processed and how it was roasted. There are so many facets to coffee as a product and while some people just a want a coffee, more and more want a journey. Each to their own, but the truth of the matter is that there is a complex world of flavour in coffee for those wanting to explore it."

All pictures @mrdan_thompson

Shoreditch House

Try one of Dan's current favourite speciality coffees at Shoreditch House