UPDATE - Penny University is no longer. Sad news - wish it could have kept going... The folks at Square Mile roast amazing coffee and their beans are ground and brewed in some of my all time favourite coffee spots around town (including Milk Bar and Brewed Boy). Their latest venture is Penny University in Redchurch St in Shoreditch - which as well as being a retail outlet for delicious Square Mile beans is also a sort of temple to coffee. Friendly and expert baristas will brew the day's selection of beans in various weird and wonderful ways - including siphons and "wood-necks". I had never heard of a wood-neck but that's what my lovely la Linda coffee was made with - it looked like something from a science lab with a wooden collar between the two chambers to make holding and pouring easier. Coffee is filtered through a sort of hessian sieve - as you can see it all looks most impressive!
The La Linda was from a farm of the same name in Colombia and was a really lovely coffee to drink. The first cup went down really quickly (I always drink brewed coffee way too fast) so it wasn't until the second, slightly cooler cup that I took note of the flavours - slightly sharp, treacly and rich were what I wrote down at the time and overall my recollection is of a supremely drinkable brew. I really liked this place - I liked the somewhat hushed atmosphere and the ceremony of it all, although I do think there are some coffee drinkers out there who are WAY too earnest about all this. At the point where enjoyment becomes academic I think you have lost the whole point - luckily the Square Mile folk are all about making this a pleasant and inclusive experience so make sure you go and visit them and stock up on some of their primo beans whilst you're at it! (BTW - if you're interested, "Penny University" is a term used to describe 18th century coffee houses in London and referred to the practise of charging a penny for entry - patrons could then drink coffee, converse and generally have the 18th century equivalent of a flat white at Lantana with some mates. Nice.)