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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14 Comments

  1. Mark Stone
    Posted 12/08/2010 at 14:41 | Permalink

    Excellent podcast, well researched and presented. The only omission within the Hackney topic of the coffee world is the history of market's that have been so important to the culture, society and trade of the area.

    Historically, the coffee houses have been near by or within market areas. This has been intertwined with coffee presences in or around Ridley Road, Broadway Market, Columbia Road, Brick Lane and now the renaissance of Chatsworth Street market. Sometimes this manifests as a coffee shop, a cart or a stall. Whereas poor quality hot drinks dominate, there are a few anomalies.

    I'd say Merito Coffee stall http://twitter.com/meritocoffee on Broadway Market is a great example of a coffee specialist that creates world class coffee and engages with the community in a coffee-house style without the need for 4 walls. Even Time Out has rated them 4 stars and Metrotwin.com 'twinned' them with coffee-houses Stumptown in NYC. This is a rarity, but the search for quality coffee culture within a social space is alive and well on the streets of Hackney as well as indoors.

  2. George Carey
    Posted 12/08/2010 at 17:17 | Permalink

    I enjoyed this very much. Beautifully produced, pacey and interesting.

  3. Jeannie Sharpe
    Posted 12/08/2010 at 17:52 | Permalink

    I could almost smell the coffee. Very atmospheric and interestingly informative.

  4. Bob S
    Posted 14/08/2010 at 13:00 | Permalink

    Another superb podcast by the Hackney Podcast team. As always, the blend of background noises, this time in the coffee houses, accompanied by streamed music yields an excellent production. The philosophical tidbits were fun.

  5. Posted 15/08/2010 at 10:40 | Permalink

    Hi Mark - you're right, it would have been nice to include market coffee. It was only when we started recording that we realised what a huge area we were trying to cover in our coffeecast! Thanks for listening and commenting,
    Francesca

  6. Michael Brown
    Posted 23/08/2010 at 10:13 | Permalink

    This is superb. Brilliantly conceived,compiled and edited, beautifully presented social history, interesting ,informative and enjoyable. The BBC must surely want it ?

  7. Posted 23/08/2010 at 10:57 | Permalink

    Thank you Michael for your kind words. Isn't the Hackney Podcast a better home for this programme though than the BBC?! Francesca

  8. Lynne Fornieles
    Posted 14/09/2010 at 17:53 | Permalink

    Intelligence available with the brew...hmmmmm delicious.

  9. Mac-E.Arto
    Posted 15/09/2010 at 08:42 | Permalink

    What a splendid, professional podcast!

    Full bodied with “big ambition” but appropriately locally ground, I loved its fresh taste. I could detect high, bright notes at times, quite fruity as well as a wonderfully smokey, earthy feel, evoking curiosity of past times with a powerful, lingering presence which gave strong hints of good times to come (or to go) to Hackney.

    Thank you for this delightful shot of Café –Hackney!
    Mac.E-Arto

  10. Posted 09/01/2011 at 20:32 | Permalink

    Hello.
    > I moved from London to a rural community a month before i had my first
    > child. I hardly knew anyone in the village. At that time and since radio and
    > podcasts have allowed me to exercise my imagination in a way i never thought
    > possible.
    >
    > We live in a very basic National Trust house that was built in the 17th
    > century. It is heated by a wood burning stove; cold and remote in the
    > winter. I helped set up the village community shop and made friends with
    > villagers of all ages and different backgrounds. It sounds very different to
    > Hackney but the the stories of people who fill the village are probably
    > similar.
    >
    > I decided that i would like to record some of the rural history of the
    > village, i bought a microphone that attached to the end of my i pod and made
    > a little podcast about our shop and how important it is to our community. I
    > got the bug and i have been recording peoples stories ever since. All i seem
    > to think about is new ideas for programmes.
    >
    > Ordinary people offer a real history.
    >
    > I love what Hackney podcast do.

  11. Posted 14/08/2011 at 01:19 | Permalink

    Wow, great article!

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  14. Posted 28/12/2015 at 01:51 | Permalink

    Please help with this advice aptpeciared?I really dont know what to do or ?How to resolve this, Your help or advice would be great. Please be sensitive as I am feeling quite low.Back in 2005 an abusive ex was arrested for beating up another woman, he was immediately given 15 months in prison (he did 9 months of the sentence) not only was I appalled at his actions, but it meant he had cheated/lied to me to have been with her. This was my que to have a fresh start. I was working at a gym, did an access to nursing course (worked very hard to study and have a job and manage my flat, finances etc) I also met a great guy that I worked with. I wrote to the bad guy in prison and told him I had moved on. For once I was happy. Me and the new man had a great few months, I was enjoying my studies, got in to an amazing nursing college, was happy and getting self esteem back and this new guy treated me great. In June 06, the toxic man was released from prison (I had ignored his calls and letter) he knew I was in a relationship. Yet, still turned up at my home un invited. He could see I was going places, was happy and had moved on. He was trying every trick in the book to win me back but I told him I was with someone and happy. He didnt listen. In Sept 06 he came to my home and violently raped me. I have had psychological counselling. But because of what he did I pushed the good guy away. I didnt even tell him what had happened as I was too ashamed. Eventually at some point in 2007 our relationship fizzled (down to me being down, unreliable and not myself). Yet, it was only in 2008 that I came forward to police about the rape and abuse as I was not ready to deal with it until then. I had left my University nursing course, I had depression and frankly my life was a mess (still is). The rape trial was due to be 22nd Feb this year, but due to police negligence (they lost one of my video statements) and a catalogue of errors the case was thrown out of court by the judge! Not only has this man destroyed my life and saw that I was moving on and happy and did what he could to ruin it, but he walks free from court for what he did. The nice guy has moved on and is engaged and happy, and I am left picking up the pieces of my life. The last 4 years have been sheer hell. I had a brief relationship in the summer and I am now 7 months pregnant, I just feel like my life is a total mess and dont know what to do to get back to my old self.I am currently in the process of suing the police but the injustice of all this is awful Please help, thanksthe length of time it took me to report the rape is irrelevent as I forgot to mention I had visited a rape clinic straight after where forensics and medical evidence were taken and a DNA match was found. I havent spoken to this beast for 18 months and dont intend to.

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