Monday, September 25, 2006

# Posted 9:05 AM by Patrick Belton  

OXBLOG GOES SHOPPING (FOR CAFFEINE): This seems a likely topic for a Monday morning. We here in the admin staff at OxBlog World Domination Headquarters find it necessary to stock up in large amounts of caffeine, both of the tea and the coffee flavours, for our lengthy days blogging and delicately crafting bad jokes for you our audience.

Two recommendations, who can now add to their warrants 'Purveyor of caffeine products to OxBloggers'. Both are lovely, lovely stores, run by lovely people whose knowledge in their craft is a remant of a delightful prelapsarian age, before Starbucks, when all was bright-crema'd espresso. Each are in London, but serve a broader catchment through post.

For teas, Postcard Teas is run by a delightful man named Timothy d'Offay, who as some measure of his dedication to his craft spent last month's summer holidays picking tea in Sri Lanka and northeast India. His list of wares is, touchingly, interspersed with photographs he took from his travels, of people working in the tea industry and their methods and environs. I had a brilliant Golden Assam off him at his store off New Bond Street with this blog's cherished friend, submitted-d.phil.-turned-food-critic Shira Schnitzer; he told me he was planning a tea tasting for London customers at some point this month, where he will describe different varietals and relevant aspects of their production to help chaiophiles find more to enjoy in their leaves. Do email him on his website if you might like to join in.

For coffee, it's difficult to do better than H.R. Higgins, who hold the royal warrant as coffee merchants, and perhaps an indication more wont to impress, supply the bean to the Italian embassy (sorry Ma'am, but we all know Windsor-Montbattens are meant to drink tea). Like Postcard Teas, if you go to their store on Duke Street, their proprietors and counter staff will set aside their work for massive amounts of time of telling you intricate details of coffee beans and their roasting. I've been very much enjoying their After-Dinner Blend; I believe HE Ambasciatore is partial to Vienna Blend.

I'm reminded in closing this post and nodding back to the Dualit of OxBlog's second-favourite Hungarian (optionally named Paul) Paul Erdös, who referred to a mathematician as a machine for converting coffee into theorems. And who also, touchingly, journeyed - with the Hungarian passport and socks which were his possessions - from mathematicians' houses to others, announcing at each 'my brain is open', collaborating with them on whatever projects came to mind, then asking to whom he should move on. After mastering Hungarian, maths apparently came a cinch. A demitasse to you, Erdös úr.
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