It might have been the working-from-home thing, it might have been because I have a tendency to say yes more than I say no, or maybe it was just time for a pause, but on 24th December last year I woke up and decided I needed a break from coffee. My announcement, on Christmas Eve morning, was met with distain from all parties present at the dining table. My family likes being self-employed, so by turn it also likes being highly caffeinated. The two seem to go hand in hand with all the other self-starters I know- coffee is our fuel. It's what gets us going at 6am, the driving force behind late nights and sometimes lonely afternoons. Suggesting I'd have some time away from flat whites, unlimited refills and 4pm lattes was basically akin to saying I didn't quite fancy firing on all cylinders for a while, which, if you've ever fought anyone's corner for any length of time, isn't what you want to hear.
I took nearly four months off. I didn't even touch decaf. Yes, my tea drinking is back to GCSE levels (two at 3am because, well because I'm being a decadent teenager, okay?!) but it was surprisingly easy to lay off the beans. Up until December 2014 I was drinking way too much of the stuff, and when you work alone, there's no-one to have silly, over-caffeinated chats to on the fire escape or bombard with your favourite Spotify soundtrack playlists. I began to miss coffee by mid-February, but I also started to realise how much rubbish coffee I had been filling myself with. I dropped out of the wide-eyed, 10000%, all-systems-go team for a few months, just long enough to start spotting when I could actually treat myself to a coffee, when it would be nice to have a kick in the right direction, and when it was just filler or procrastination.
Which, of course, is where Goodbeans come in. Cold brew coffee has been on my radar for about a year, and Goodbeans' gorgeous labelling and chilled, virtually bitter-free coffee naturally had me at hello. When I found out Becky, one half of the team behind the beans, and I, share some old school (literally) family friends, I thought it was about time I checked out what 16 hour-brewed coffee could do for someone looking to get back into caffeine days.
Becky Neale and Rosa Escoda started Goodbeans after coming across cold brew coffee in San Francisco in 2012, and realising the UK's standards of iced coffee left a lot to be desired. The childhood friends (oh, let's stick to that theme, shall we?) decided to launch their own smooth cold brew-style coffee in 2013, after perfecting the extensive steeping technique required for a cold brew, where coffee grounds are hand brewed in cold filtered water to heighten natural flavours and reduce unnecessary acidity. Having tested out all manner of kitchens and set-ups until they found something that fitted just right, Becky and Rosa now run their own stall at Borough as well as retailing Goodbeans to a handful of carefully chosen shops around London- pop by the Detox Kitchen on Soho's Kingly Street, or Brompton Food Market in South Kensington if you can't get down to London Bridge to grab a bottle. What's more, as Goodbeans has a more-than-profit outlook, Becky and Rosa also support The Jimmy Mizen Foundation and Street Souls through their company, and anyone that buys a bottle does too.
Having spent a good few months away, it's great to have such a good reason to be back in black. Cold brew is far less bitter than whatever efforts I've ever been able to handle at home, and Goodbeans coffee has turned into the treat I pack into my bag for a day writing in the park or the lunchtime with friends in central. If anyone reading this has ever tried as hard as I have to track down a decent iced coffee in London that doesn't also taste like an entire dessert, then you'll understand this is no mean feat. The deal breaker for me- and I think any vegans battling daily encounters with bitter coffee- is that it also doesn't require any milk replacements as the flavour is already bang-on, designed to be just as round and smooth as anything with added soy or almond milk. If you've got friends coming for brunch or just something a bit special planned instead of a regular office park-date, Goodbeans is your gal. Fresh after a day of travelling from Portugal yesterday, I teamed my cold brew coffee this morning with some killer avocado toast (fried, natch) for breakfast, and wish I could have the whole thing over again for lunch.
Goodbeans will be at the London Coffee Festival for the next four days, from Thursday 30th April to 3rd May at the Old Truman Brewery just off Brick Lane. I'll be popping along this Saturday to see Becky and Rosa, so give them a shout too if you happen to be there. Oh, and remember to look out for my upcoming recipe using Goodbeans cold brew coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, which with fruity, floral notes and hints of chocolate is going to go down a d-ream with the vegan cafe au lait I've got lined up.