Words by Angharad May
I don’t want to make this review about me, but I would like to start off with a little personal background, to set the scene. As someone who struggles with often crippling anxiety, I try to set myself challenges, which to most people seem mundane, everyday tasks, but to me, they are huge hurdles to constantly battle in order to overcome.
I am a firm believer in rewarding hard work with little pleasures. Now I love coffee, decent coffee, (life is too short to drink that instant dishwater stuff #sorrynotsorry), so one challenge that I regularly set myself is to go to an independent coffee shop and study for a while. One of the coffee shops I have found that I can manage, and actually thoroughly enjoy, is The Little Man Coffee Company. Here, I had the privilege to interview Laura over a cup of their outstanding coffee.
The first time Laura tried coffee was as youngster; she was curious about the drinks her parents drank, and having tried each one, she found them all to be disgusting! Now, that is not the case, and she loves many adult-drinks, including coffee (obviously). She especially loves the way coffee brings people together.
Laura previously worked for a charity in France for two years before joining Little Man. The owner of the coffee shop, Rob, used to work in a nightclub but with two kids, he wanted to swap night-work to day-work, and hence opened Little Man.
Little Man has not long celebrated its 4th birthday, and now has a sister-shop called Little Man Garage which is more off the beaten track, quirky with cobbled floors and offers barista classes for budding coffee enthusiasts.
Now, not only am I a coffee enthusiast like all the staff at Little Man, but I am also a wine enthusiast, which makes sense given the two beverages have a surprising number of similarities. As a result, I was interested to learn from red-wine-lover Laura, about the origin of their coffee and what factors affect the flavour of the bean.
Here is a little coffee lesson for you. Coffee starts life as a green bean; this is the stone of a coffee cherry which is the fruit of the coffee tree. Just like the flavour of wine depends on the climate and terroir of where grapes are grown, the flavour of coffee depends on these factors. Laura said if she were a coffee, she would like to be a bright Kenyan, vibrant, fruity and citrusy, but she is in reality more likely to be a safe chocolatey Colombian.
At Little Man, they use 25 different roasters from the UK and Europe, trying to profile little roasters and providing customers with choices, safe options and more adventurous ones. Coffee can be either washed or natural. Washed coffee is the safer option as it is more crisp and clean-tasting. Natural coffee is the more adventurous choice; it involves the coffee bean being fermented with the cherry still around the bean leading to a positive sourness or strawberry flavour in the coffee, but some people find this too bold, especially if milk is added.
Laura and all the staff at Little Man share their passion for coffee and caring for customers – which has been visibly apparent at every visit here – and are always learning from each other, using trial and error to be able to offer the best drinks possible.
I highly recommend their scrumptious full-of-flavour cortado, perhaps with a cinnamon swirl to nibble on!