The Imperceptible Greatness of Prufrock Coffee


One attribute that separates exacting chefs from merely attentive ones is an intolerance for the slightest imperfection. It is also a trait shared by kitchen tyrants who berate underlings for sprinkling 16 grains of coarse sea salt on the left half of a dish and only 15 on the right half.

Gwilym Davies & Jeremy Challender

The London-based baristas Jeremy Challender and Gwilym Davies, co-directors of Prufrock Coffee, possess the same perfectionism, if not the sadism sometimes associated with it. When asked what makes Davies, the 2009 World Barista Champion, special I refer to his habit of pulling beautiful espressos and then enumerating their minute faults. I’ve never found cause to send back a coffee prepared for me by Davies but he has. Twice he’s taken back my espresso before I’ve had a chance to sip it. You might conclude this was due to my having overestimated Davies’ skills as a coffee preparer or, more likely, his having overestimated mine as a coffee taster. But I think was more about fussiness and an uncompromising formula for greatness: 50 imperceptible adjustments = 1 big difference. [Read more…]

Great Coffee in West London? Somebody Pinch Me.

Prufrock at Woodhouse

Jeremy Challender and Gwilym Davies do not, as a general rule, wear £200 jeans but they seem to like pulling espressos in shops that sell them. The baristas behind Prufrock Coffee have parked an espresso machine just inside the shop window of Woodhouse, a designer menswear boutique at 189 Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, West London (see map).  Their other in-store espresso bar is in East London at the Shoreditch designer menswear boutique Present. [Read more…]

Doors to Gwilym’s New Coffee Shop Not Tamper Proof

The one detail that caught my eye as I entered Prufrock, the first coffee shop operated by 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies that does not rest on wheels, was the tamper doorknobs. A tamper is the hand tool baristas use to pack ground coffee into an espresso machine’s filter basket. [Read more…]

2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies is Done With Lattes & Flat Whites

Prufrock Coffee for PresentGwilym Davies has sworn off lattes and flat whites. The 2009 World Barista Champion has also removed cappuccinos and cortados from the menu of his Prufrock Coffee trolley at London’s Present. GibraltarSG-120 and all the other groovy terms for an espresso with hot milk have been banished from his vocabulary. Henceforce all his milk-marbleised coffees will be identified by their cup sizes: 4 oz, 6 oz or 8 oz. [Read more…]

The New Trainee Barista at Penny University

Early this morning, Gwilym Davies was about to board a flight home from Malta to London when he received a urgent call from Tim Styles of the coffee shop Penny University.

Penny U was a man down for the day and Styles wanted to know if Davies, the 2009 World Barista Champion, could fly in as a late substitution. Davis landed at Heathrow, rushed directly to Shoreditch, stopped only long enough to open the door of the men’s boutique where he has his own coffee trolley and then slid behind the bar at Penny U.

So how did Davies, the espresso champ, do on his first day as a barista preparing only pour-over and syphon brews at Penny University?  I would give him a 9 out of 10 for the quality of the unplugged filter coffee and a 2 out of 10 for wardrobe.  Apparently Davies did not get the company memo about the baristas wearing traditional men’s cotton shirts.

London’s great coffee moment has come

“The British capital won’t be a coffee capital,” I wrote in April 2009, “until the taste for excessively milky coffees recedes and the best coffee shops look beyond espresso to filter- and siphon-brewed coffees. I’d also like to see more coffee shops sourcing and roasting their own beans.”

One year on, those conditions have been met and the wishes of the growing legion of local cafenatics has been granted: London’s great coffee moment has come. [Read more…]

World barista champion rolls his espresso cart into London menswear shop

gwilym davies and his leverRather than violate the civil liberties of a law-abiding British citizen I would prefer that Gwilym Davies voluntarily strap a GPS tracking bracelet to his ankle. But if the 2009 World Barista Champion refuses to help us trace his movements via GPS or constant twitter updates I may soon have to ask my man at MI5 to slip a microscopic satellite-tracking particle into Gwilym’s morning coffee. When we discriminating cafenatics are on the loose in London we have a right to know where and when the champ is pulling espressos. [Read more…]

Tracking 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies & best street coffee in London

gwilym davies
gwilym-davies-at-whitecrossSince Londoner Gwilym Davies was crowned 2009 World Barista Champion my inbox has been clogged with the same two questions: Where can I find him pulling shots and why wasn’t he included in my roundup of the top 10 coffee shops in London? [Read more…]