Friday, 4 January 2013

Coffee and cake in High Barnet

How do you take yours? 

Until early last year I was a Caramel macchiato type girl; skinny, extra hot, with stroopwaffles please. And then I saw an infographic about calorie content of popular coffee drinks and had to have a rethink. So I turned to the Americano, a bit dull - but didn't have that sickly aftermath of the milkier drinks and is considerably cheaper. 

Now without wishing to mire my blog in economics and politics - it is relevant to note that the whole tax furore kicked off. I believe that everyone should pay their fair share of tax so was somewhat outraged at the tax evasion exploits of those major chains that populate our high streets. It didn't deter me completely, but was another nail in the coffin. 

A few weeks back I was in High Barnet and noticed a new shop Harris & Hoole. Inside it's steamy windows was a higgledy piggledy collection of battered chairs, some squishy sofas and huge blackboards showing calendars with events and activities (including baby yoga - how cool is that? I may need to borrow the nephew to try that out!) 

Under the glass display cabinet are a selection of sandwiches and cakes. The ubiquitous cupcakes were not making an appearance, but lots of loaf cakes, some cookies and the world's largest brownies (not Brownies).  We dashed in, securing a table and I ordered a latte, a cappuccino, a white chocolate cookie and a brownie. 

I was somewhat surprised to be handed what looked a little like a cross between a remote control and a mobile phone (M says to say 1990's vintage) We were told that when our coffees were ready it would buzz at as. Very high tech! And as we sat and read - a necessary part of  ensuring that coffees and teas are brewed correctly for the best taste. 

The coffee comes from the same people my last coffee based interaction was focused around: Union Roasted Like the workshop in Brighton, the focus is on single estate coffee that's in the main fairly traded (where it doesn't meet the fair trade regulations, it's still directly traded (click the link for details). 

The coffees were neither bitter, nor hot milkshakes, but much stronger and more flavourful than either of us are used to. Not that that's a bad thing - far from it, we both really enjoyed our drinks. The cafe was lovely and busy when we went in, the staff super friendly and chatty. We'll definitely be back. 

The white chocolate cookie was full of white chocolate chunks, and not flooby at all. Contrary to normal coffee shop offerings it tasted of butter, vanilla and white chocolate not leaving that oily film in your mouth. 

And now for my brownie. I should warn you that I have very high standards for brownies. I've been spoiled by Utterly Scrummy's confections and loathe loathe loathe the powdery, cakey, dry offerings that abound. In fact I almost never order them. This definitely was neither cakey nor dry - it was lovely, dense, fudgey and if anything? Slightly too rich and certainly too big. I can't believe it either. 

The baked offerings are made in house daily (I'm not sure if 'in house' is central and transported out to the cafes, or in each location) and come in a little cheaper than the high street alternatives.  

If you have a Harris & Hoole near you, I would definitely suggest a visit, a coffee (or a tea) and a cake. 

This isn't a sponsored post, I just really liked it this much.


Kavey said...

I've been reading about Harris and Hoole in the news lately, as there's been some outrage that they're half-owned by Tesco, and some customers feel that should be obvious in the signage. But given that it's not in any way the norm for businesses to declare or identify their investors, that seems a bit OTT to me.
I don't have an anti Tesco thing going on, so will definitely look out for this chain.

Penny Aylwin said...

Oh I didn't realise about the Tesco link - but, I'm not anti Tesco as such either.

That said, the coffee is good and ethical, I want to try their teas, the cakes are good and I liked it so it won't stop me going.


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