Edition 19: Coffeecast

A cup of coffee

The Third Wave of Coffee is pouring its way in to Hackney. Cafes such as the Penny University, Mouse & De Lotz and the Counter Cafe pride themselves in their artisan beverages, meticulously measuring the temperature of the milk and the pressure of their carefully ground beans. But while this demand for the artisan cup might be a 21st-century phenomenon, coffee has a role in Hackney life that goes back to the age of the Enlightenment. Dr Matt Green takes us into the world of the 18th-century Hackney coffee house, a bustling social space but also a hub of news information. The substance they drank may have been served from cauldrons and tasted like soot, but this was the place for journalists to find stories on finance or religious dissent.

Ernesto Illy once said that it takes 55 prime beans to make the perfect espresso. The Hackney Podcast's resident philosopher Dr James Wilson ponders the question of taste, and what we might learn from both Illy and Scottish Enlightenment writer David Hume. Climpson & Sons of Broadway Market are clearly serious about their bean varietals; they even roast their own. We go behind the scenes to watch the process, and learn the art of latte preparation from staff at Wilton Way, Lemon Monkey and the Hackney Pearl. Meanwhile, two long-time residents of the borough remember the arrival in London during the 1950s of the Italian espresso bar, natural habitat to the British beatnik.

Our coffeecast ends with a specially recorded song by Rob Gallagher, former front man of Galliano. Also heard throughout the programme is Matthew Herbert's An Empire of Coffee, from the album Plat du Jour (Accidental Records), a project which tackles the "growing obsession with the international language of food and how almost every choice we are being asked to make about what we eat is laced with deadly compromises".

Historian: Dr Matt Green
Philosopher: Dr James Wilson
Bean roaster: Danny Davies of Climpson and Sons
Actor: Jonathan Hansler
Coffee shops featured: Climpson and Sons, Dalston Cafe, Hackney Pearl, Hoxton Cafe, Kingfisher Cafe, Lemon Monkey, Leos, Paulas, Towpath, Wilton Way
Interviews collected by Andrew Dickson, Joanna Lemonnier, Felix Carey and Francesca Panetta
Producers: Felix Carey and Francesca Panetta
Music by Matthew Herbert, Rob Gallagher and Felix Carey

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