The boom of artisan coffee in Cambridge.
This month, our Cambridge Foodie, Gerla de Boer, shares her top picks for the coolest coffee shops in Cambridge.
It’s a cold and rainy day in Cambridge, and I spot a long queue outside one of the small coffee shops. My initial thought is that they are waiting for a sandwich. How wrong could I be? One after the other comes out with a steaming hot cup of coffee. What is the big attraction of clinching onto an umbrella in the blistery cold just for a cup of coffee? The answer is the type of coffee. Artisan is much sweeter than regular coffee, which tastes quite bitter. Most importantly, it’s roasted with love and care.
A good artisan coffee starts at the source. An artisan coffee roaster chooses his supplier with care. There are important considerations such as the type of bean, the conditions it has been grown in and the harvesting practices. As with everything artisan, it requires plenty of time, dedication and practice. You don’t become an artisan coffee roaster overnight. Unlike the big brands, artisan coffee is roasted in small batches and not stored for months.
There is more to it, though. The place to get the perfect artisan cup of coffee is a small independent coffee shop. They prepare it with love and care, and unlike some of the big high strand brands, they make you feel special.
The artisan coffee movement is growing. Many coffee fanatics are practising their barista skills at home too. One of the first coffee roasters who spotted a niche in the market was Nespresso over 30 years ago. They created a coffee machine building on the earlier work of Luigi Bezzera with the simple idea to enable anyone to create the perfect cup of espresso coffee – just like a skilled barista. Being a lover of a fine cup of coffee, I bought mine in 1992. My flavour palette changed over the years, and my Nespresso coffee machine made its way to a barista-style coffee machine, Sage.
With so many excellent local artisan coffee roasters around, it is sometimes difficult to make a choice. It all depends on your preference as to which coffee bean to choose. I use Silver Oak coffee beans at the moment, but I have used Hot Numbers and the Kerb Project too.
Where to find artisan coffee beans in Cambridge and Ely?
Available online and at Ely market
Available online and The OtherSyde, Cambridge
Available online, at their two cafes in Cambridge on Gwydir Street and Trumpington Street, and Hot Numbers Roastery in Shepreth
Available online and from their van close to Orchard Street at Christ’s Pieces, Cambridge
Town and Gown