Square Mile are an East-London based coffee roasters with multiple awards to their name. With a focus on wholesale, they aim to put London on a pedestal renowned for great coffee. As firm contributors to the London coffee scene, I have been keen to try some of their quality espresso. Despite having a growing list of places I want to visit in London - I rarely venture to the capital. As such, with Square Mile's 'Sweetshop' espresso being North Tea Power's current guest espresso - I trekked across town to the Northern Quarter to give it a try. Having read that fun is a core part of their philosophy I became even more game to sample some of their more experimental espresso blends.
Well. I can certainly understand why they call it Sweetshop. When drunk as pure espresso, the sweetness really slaps you in the face. I wanted to try Sweetshop both black and with milk so I asked NTP to split the shot: an espresso and a cappuccino was presented to me. Compared to the chocolaty, rich and smooth espresso that I tend to favour, Sweetshop is both sweet and bitter at the same time- like some coffee variant of 'tangfastic haribo'. The cappuccino provided a less impacting sip. Every taste of the single espresso I had, I presumed the less sweet/sharp and exciting it would be as I adapt to the pic'n'mix equivalent coffee hit. But no, every sip is a new tangy surprise. As I move back over to the milky-dream cappuccino on my right I can confirm that it's a less exciting taste-bud adventure. This is such a fun game, switching between the two slightly bizarre beverages. Shame that I'm playing it alone, suffering from a slightly uncomfortable muggy temperature whilst surrounded by an over-bearing smog of cigar smoke from
rude gentleman perched next to me. He's drinking tea. My gut instinct appears to be correct in telling me that he's a dodgy fella. I joke. But really, coffee > tea.
I digress, back to the fun game. The espresso is really dominating the match. The cappuccino started to claw back a few sips after the espresso's initial powerful flavour punch. Then, bang; a mini gulp to finish off the espresso, my wrist moves as if knocking down a tequila shot in a swift attempt to reap every last drop of the exiting brew. Check mate. Game over. 'Purity' wins the day.
For something different, give Square Mile's Sweetshop a try.
Square Mile describe their seasonal espresso as follows: "The idea behind Sweetshop is simple: Combine sweet and characterful coffee to create a fun, wildly complex and fruit-driven espresso. It isn't about balance. It isn't about tradition. This is about cramming as much fruit and complexity into the cup as possible. We want an espresso that doesn’t taste like anything else."
I'm relatively new to the world of artisan coffee, it's not easy trying to capture with words the sensation of taste and the aroma. The complexity of the Sweetshop espresso, like most new things I try, is ineffable. It's fun trying to pin down flavours, describe the different notes coming through at distinct stages of the sip. The initial smell, the first taste impression and the lingering remnants of what was so sweet but so short lived. It's all so intricate, you just have to try it for yourself. Just as our favourite flavours will differ, so will our experience of it all.