But let us not stop more important things getting in the way of this, the inaugural Weimar Republic Coffee Awards 2013. I have spent the past year conducting a completely unfair, unbalanced and not in any way thorough survey of the coffee available throughout our fine nation. And now the results are in.
To test coffee appropriately, my rules state you should order a flat white and an espresso. This will give you the best picture of both the quality and flavour of the coffee itself, how it works in a more complex (slightly) beverage, with milk, and also the coffee making skills of the establishment in question.
In practice, drinking a flat white and an espresso everywhere you go isn't practicable, particularly if you want to test more than one establishment's coffee in the same day and don't enjoy caffeine hallucinations. But still, I tried my best. Here are my favourites:
Flat White, Berwick Street, Soho, London
Possibly one of the first British cafes to bring the flat white to the UK? And how glad I was of this. When I first left the UK for Australia in 2008, I had never heard of the flat white. I was very much a tea drinker. And then I discovered the joyful flat white. Why couldn't English people make coffee like this? Why did we put up with those milky, bathtub sized travesties, with several inches of flavourless froth sat on top? When I came home, in 2011, I was overjoyed to see flat whites in English coffee shops. So, thank you, Flat White in Soho, and your fine flat whites.
The Bean, Stoney Street, Beeston, Nottinghamshire
My local. And fortunately so. We buy all our own coffee beans here and they grind them for us too! And they do a grand flat white.
Wired, Pelham Street, Nottingham
A new one in Nottingham. Excellent, and good food too.
Hot Numbers, Gwydir Street, Cambridge
Very fine coffee. These people are into coffee so much that I just felt like a person with a hot drink in comparison. I sampled two different espressos and several flat whites (on separate visits I must point out!).
Boston Tea Party, Park Street/Cheltenham Road/Gloucester Road, Bristol
There's a few of these around Bristol and the west, but those 3 are my favourites. Glorious rich, creamy flat whites. This one was made in the newest Gloucester Road branch, which I'm a bit in love with at the moment because it has opened up less than 5 minutes walk from my parents' house. Thanks, Boston Tea!
Well, the above are all fine contenders in the Coffee of the Year stakes. But none of them have won this coveted prize. "Who has won?" I hear you shout. Well let me tell you that the winner is *drumroll*........
..... Society Cafe, Kingsmead Square, Bath
One of the greatest espressos I have tasted, possible ever. And a fine flat white, and a wonderful establishment filled with lovely furniture and books and magazines. I wrote on the chalkboard in their toilets, to thank them. I'll thank them again. Thank you, Society Cafe. And well done!