How did you fall in love with coffee?
It was after I tasted a cappuccino at a trade show, made by British bloke Gwilym Davies, who had just won the world barista championships. He owns the café Prufrock in Farringdon and has been a constant source of inspiration.
How do you select the beans?
Ever since we opened in September 2012, we’ve always used small batch producers and had limited seasonal menus of espresso. We’d change roaster every fortnight until we heard Tate were giving us the opportunity to roast ourselves (see box below), so we’ve stuck with them these past six months.
Talk us through how to taste an espresso properly.
Mix in the crema – it’ll give you a false sense of bitterness; you want body (creaminess), sweetness and a lingering sense of “that’s delicious”, instead of something that is thin, almost attacking to the tongue and leaves you wanting a glass of water.
What’s been your worst experience in the trade?
Opening the shop on my birthday to find we’d been broken into. I did get the day off though and the insurance covered everything.
And the best?
A Saturday morning where all music we played had to be sung by a Bruce. Springsteen started it off, then it went downhill… Forsyth, Willis. It was a lot of fun though.
What else do you serve at the cafe?
Helena’s recently come up with a great vegan dhal recipe. We serve up batch-brewed filter we’re very proud of and flog it for a quid every Friday. Sandwiches are getting more imaginative every day, and our toasted banana bread still kicks ass.
What has been the biggest surprise?
How amazing staff can be and how it’s easy to love them. It sounds cheesy but I really love our team – they make the work a pleasure and the business the success it is.
Who are your regular customers?
Unsurprisingly, people coming into the area: local businesses and their staff like MVF, Spring Studios, Camden Brewery, Zabludowicz, locals leaving to work elsewhere, and those who pass by: parents, teachers, builders and people who work from home.
What advice would you give to someone starting out with their own coffee shop?
Find the best example of what you want to do in London – then go and work there for six months. Take note of their suppliers and processes. Then come and ask me lots of questions.
Any plans to expand?
We’ve our eyes on some arches nearby for a big project, as well as a roasting business and one that involves planting fruit trees. We’re also working on something with Castlehaven down in Camden.
Find The Fields Beneath right next to Kentish Town West overground station, 52 Prince Of Wales Road, NW5