<![CDATA[The Press Office Cafe - Yangon, Myanmar - Blog]]>Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:20:09 +0700Weebly<![CDATA[Make an awesome chocolate cake at home... in just 6 steps!]]>Fri, 29 May 2015 10:00:00 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/make-an-awesome-chocolate-cake-at-home-in-just-6-stepsWhen we laid out our chocolate cake last week for the first time, it was snapped up in record time, and many of you told us that you loved it very much. Not wanting to deprive anyone of the joy of chocolate, here's the simplest recipe you'll ever have for making, in your words, an awesome chocolate cake!

Do give it a shot, and send us your photos, videos, comments - we'd love to see them and share them with our readers. Alternatively, tag us in your photos on Facebook or Instagram!

On your marks, get set, bake!

The Press Office's Chocolate Cake

Makes 8 slices

For the cake:
- 3 large eggs
- 175g self-raising flour
- 175g caster sugar
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 40g cocoa powder
- 6 tbsp hot water
- A pinch of salt
- 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate ganache:
- 150ml double cream
- 150g plain chocolate
- 4 tbsp apricot jam

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degs celsius.
2. Beat together eggs, flour, caster sugar, butter and baking powder until smooth.
3. Separately, add hot water to the cocoa powder to form a paste. Add salt, vanilla extract and the paste to the batter and mix.
4. Split batter equally into two 8" cake tins, and bake for approx 20-25 mins.
5. For the ganache, add cream and chocolate into a microwaveable bowl. Melt over gentle heat in the microwave for about 1 min, then set aside to cool and thicken.
6. When the cake has cooked, assemble it as shown here (apologies for the very basic illustration!):
<![CDATA[Roasting coffee to fight homelessness: Old Spike Roastery in London.]]>Wed, 27 May 2015 10:35:45 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/roasting-coffee-to-fight-homelessness-old-spike-roastery-in-londonWe’d first heard about Old Spike Roastery on Twitter – based in Peckham in southeast London, they are a not-for-profit company which roasts and sells high quality Arabica coffee, providing jobs for the homeless in London.

So we got in touch with the founders, Richard and Cemal, who graciously agreed to do an interview with us. Read on to find out about the reasons why they started Old Spike and their motivations towards social entrepreneurship, as well as their take on how to start a business like theirs!

Old Spike
PO: Firstly, Richard and Cemal, what you're doing is fantastic. Among the many forms of social entrepreneurship out there, what made starting a roastery the idea you decided to go after? And the name "Old Spike" - what's the story behind the name?

OS: It was Richard's idea to start a coffee Roastery, after living in New York and seeing a range of coffee roasteries in New York and seeing the launch of locally made products in Peckham combined with being very passionate about coffee we decided it was something we wanted to do. The name "old spike" originated while we were painting the front of the shop. After months of deliberation on the roasteries name, two ladies we're passing the shop and we explained how we were going to be helping local homeless. They explained that there used to be a local workhouse around the corner from the shop, which provided jobs and housing for homeless people and in order to earn their wages they had to break stones on an old spike, so it earned the name "Old Spike" and it was closed down around 25 years ago and turned into flats. So felt this was a sign to name the roastery after the old spike that did a lot for the local homeless before being closed down.

PO: This could be slightly provocative - the cynics argue that social enterprises are a way for the rich to deal with their guilt, and have no true altruism behind them. What would you say to such a claim?

OS: On the whole we don't feel all social enterprises are set up to deal with any personal guilt, but we believe that even if that was the original motivation for supporting their community or beneficiary then as long as they are providing support and people's lives are being changed for the positive then in some instances we do not see an issue with this.
Old Spike Roastery
PO: We've recently seen more and more social enterprises starting up - do you think this is a trend that can continue, and what do you think could keep it going?

OS: We hope so, as we believe social enterprises are a way of business helping solve or support some of the issues in our society, no matter how small or large. We are a not for profit but Cemal when speaking at conferences or events encourages other social enterprises to take a profit so they can continue to be sustainable and ideally the model attracts other individuals or groups to start helping some of the problems in our society, and to earn a profit or wage themselves in a way that cannot be done in a charity.

PO: How was it like trying to gather the funds needed to start the roastery?

OS: Initially it was very difficult, grants or funding for startups or social enterprises are hard to come by, we have self-funded the start up with our savings and a bank loan, but now we have set up the business and there is a track record it is far easier to gather funds.
Old Spike Roastery
PO: You've been open for about two months now - how has business been?

OS: It has been surprisingly busy. We wanted to focus on the quality of our coffee first and foremost so people come back for the coffee and not for the social mission, and this had led to repeat customers and people buying our coffee on a subscription basis from around the UK.

PO: Your coffees have been getting rave reviews on twitter - what's your secret to great coffee?

OS: As we are not taking any profit out of the business and reinvesting all of the surplus back into buying the highest level of coffee beans from around the world we can have the luxury of picking the best coffees without having to charge this back to our customers. Also we have had some support from some of the best coffee roasters in Europe ensuring the quality of our roasts are apt the highest possible level. Finally, our partner Rob Dunne has been instrumental in making sure the quality of our coffee is world class, it is a privilege to have him working with us and he ensures quality control is always at a high level. Even though we are a social enterprise we feel it is very important to compete against the market first otherwise we cannot expect our customers to keep coming back.
LucyLucy, Old Spike Roastery's first employee
PO: We read about your first employee, Lucy - how has she found the experience so far? Would you be able to share her story since she joined Old Spike?

OS: We have been so lucky to find Lucy, she can't speak English, but her effort, dedication, motivation, reliability and honesty is just fantastic. Rob has taught her how to make speciality coffee and the Google translate app has really helped us to do this, without it we would not have been able to help her. But the success of Lucy's story is down to her personality and we just gave her the chance and the rest has come from her. We are very proud of her and what she has achieved so far.

Read more about Lucy's story here.

PO: What advice would you give to any entrepreneurs considering starting up a business like yours?

OS: Treat the enterprise as a business and believe in your project and just start. Liam Black (one of the UK's best known social entrepreneurs) once gave a speech and said JUMP and it just gave us the confidence to start moving and it really helped to start the business, instead of waiting for everything to be perfect.
Old Spike Roastery was set up to provide some of the finest, freshly roasted coffee around. They source their premium beans from all over the world and roast them at their shop on their roaster affectionately known as 'Torberg'. What makes them a little different from your regular coffee shop is that they are 100% not-for-profit and are set up exclusively to help local homeless people in their community. Their mission is to provide expert training, housing and a job that will hopefully be a stepping stone into long term employment. 

Find out more about them on their website or on Facebook and Twitter.
<![CDATA[You'll never believe what kind of art this man can make with his coffee.]]>Fri, 08 May 2015 14:32:10 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/youll-never-believe-what-kind-of-art-this-man-can-make-with-his-coffeeZaw is a self-confessed coffee addict – you can see this is the case from his Instagram description:
But if that snapshot of his Instagram page doesn’t already show what he can do with his milk jar, then these will most surely blow your mind. The degree of definition of every single line is a testament to the level of his free pouring skills.


Every self-respecting barista can pour a basic heart shape. But how about the more sophisticated tulips?

Double hearts on top of rosetta


And how about THREE rosettas?

Triple rosettas

Or Flaming Tulips.

Flaming tulips

Birds, too. Here's a Swan.

Swans are believed to bring good luck to the people of Myanmar, and are cherished animals.

Perhaps something more mythical - a phoenix, say?

Phoenix over the cloud

And the next time Valentine's day comes along, coffee could be in order.


Behold - the man behind the art.

Zaw and his elder brother Wai own Element coffee, an artisan coffee roaster and supplier based in Yangon, Myanmar. Element is recognised by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. Both Wai and Zaw are involved in Barista championships in Myanmar and the wider Asian region. They also operate Coffee Circles, a cafe located on Dhamazedi Road, Yangon.

Follow Zaw and his art on Facebook or Instagram!

Photos reproduced with permission.
<![CDATA[Beneath the glaze: AC and the art of Cheeky Munchcakes]]>Wed, 06 May 2015 17:20:02 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/beneath-the-glaze-ac-and-the-art-of-cheeky-munchcakesWe love cakes, especially the part that involves eating them. And while skill, patience and hours of dedication are necessary for producing delicious cakes, the stories behind people who love cakes as much as we do are even more compelling.

Some of the most beautiful, creative and delicious cakes we’ve ever tasted have been made by London-based May Ann Cherie “AC” Saldua. AC is the genius behind Cheeky Munchcakes and because passion is contagious, AC graciously gave us the chance to do a short interview with her about her story, her cakes and her tips for anyone who may wish to follow her footsteps and become a full-time artisan baker and cake decorator.
PO: Thank you AC for doing this interview with us! Your cakes look and taste awesome, but you were never a professional baker – how did you learn how to bake and decorate cakes this well?

AC: It’s my pleasure. You just don’t know how amazing the feeling of being a celebrity is, at least for once in my caking life! Back to cake – Thank you! I think what I aim to achieve is perfectly summed up by my tagline: “Where taste and beauty go hand-in-hand”!

Professionally, I have a degree in Business Management and I worked in retail and restaurants for 2 years, which opened me up to a more hands-on practice of food hygiene and safety. Though I was already baking cakes as a hobby before I got the job, it was very rare, about 5 cakes in a year. The baking came on and off for a while, until I finally decided to leave my job and bake full-time in September 2014.

Almost everything I know was picked up on my own from either YouTube or Google – I like to say that I graduated with a Masters in Cake Decorating and from YouTube college, with a Diploma from Google! Kidding aside, I’ve really never attended any formal training courses. My one and only experience of a cake decorating lesson was when I won in a Facebook contest run by a cake magazine in 2014, which gave me a spot in a class by Zoe Clark in Cake Camp UK. Had I not won a seat in that class, I’d have learnt everything I know online!

PO: Many people love baking, but few manage to actually take it on as a full-time business that’s successful. What’s your secret?

AC: TIME. I learnt that I have to dedicate a whole lot of time to make this business work. The reason why it had been so on and off before was because I was not doing it full-time. The cake business is stressful with lots of sleepless nights, especially when my youngest daughter was still a toddler. So doing this at the same time as having a day job simply exhausts you. Focus and dedication, along with sufficient time dedicated to it is the key. At some point, you just have to choose which path you really want to pursue, then just jump in and forget about all others.

Cheeky MunchcakesPurse & Suitcase cake, Cheeky Munchcakes
PO: What’s the most complicated cake design you’ve ever made? And how long did it take you to finish it?

AC: The most complicated design for me was the Purse & Suitcase cake, considering the fact that cake carving and square/rectangle cakes are not my forte. Making the chain manually (I know I should’ve used a mould, but…) and inserting strips of gum paste in each hole was just like suicide! Then came painting it with gold. How long did it take me? 3 sleepless nights and some parts of the 5 days. The finish product was simply awesome! To date, it remains my hubby’s favourite and most guys (yes, guys!) told me – when they saw that cake, they knew that I was up for something even greater.

PO: Clients often come in with different requests and ideas, but you always manage to put everything together into a nice concept. What inspires your designs and what’s the thought process you go through when coming up with a cake design?

AC: Oh yes! You’re right. Some are even “crazy” ideas. But there’s one thing I try to make sure of, and that is no matter how funky or busy the cake is, it should always look clean. I admire a simple and clean cake, but hubby (my worst critic) is more of a “detailed” kind of guy who thinks that the more details there are, the more worthwhile the cake becomes. So we meet halfway – clean AND detailed cakes.

Cheeky Munchcakes
PO: I can’t remember a time we didn’t see you smiling! What do you love most about baking and what about it gives you so much happiness?

AC: Oh thanks! I get that feedback a lot, even when I was still working in the restaurant. I think it comes from our Filipino culture of being hospitable. To be honest, baking is NOT my favourite part of the business – if I could skip that part, I’d be in heaven. But then I always remind myself that it’s in baking where all these start so I’d better love baking first of all. Seeing the decorating and designs come together just gives you that wonderful feeling afterwards. Its tiring, but you know what keeps me going after all those sleepless nights and stress? It’s the fact that after delivering the cake, you get that awesome feedback from the client and you get to keep the photos of your handiwork. To top that off, I was able to attend to my family in between. That’s the main reason I made the decision to leave my job.

PO: What do you enjoy most now as a professional baker and full-time mom, compared to when you were in full-time employment?

AC: It’s the thought that I can get very tired, but at the end of the day, I have photos to keep and look back to that remind me of the effort I put in for such a masterpiece and that I was able to be a full time mom and wife at the same time. Unlike when I was employed, I missed the 2 years of family weekends and I feel so tired after the whole 8 hours of being on my feet, without having anything to be proud of in the end.

PO: Some of our readers would love to start a baking business like yours – what advice would you give to them?

AC: Get it started and get going. No industry is overly congested – there’s always a place for everyone. Don’t be intimidated by what others can do. Not all of us are born artistic, but we can do our best to be. I, for one, am not so into novelty. I hate carving and I’m not very good at sculpting figures, but I love elegance and flowers so I decided to go and enter the wedding industry. We can’t do everything. If you can, hats off to you! The key is to find what you feel is comfortable for you so you won’t feel exhausted, and you will love what you’re doing.

PO: Finally, if there’s one cake you’d really love to bake (and need someone to place an order for), what would it be?

AC: I’ve always loved cream cheese or any cream-based frosting, but because they need to be refrigerated and fondant cakes are not meant to be in the fridge, I’m not able to do them. So my dream cakes to make are all-cream cakes (cream cheese, mousse, whipping cream etc.), covered and decorated in an intricately piped buttercream. Just like what my idols (who happen to be Filipinas also living in London, the Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes) are very known for. But because piping is not something I am confident of doing, this means that I will be challenging myself to create this one cake that I really love by re-learning caking the other way round.

Cheeky Munchcakes bakes and supplies bespoke-designed cakes for special occasions, especially weddings, in London. For more information, please visit their website www.cheekymunchcakes.co.uk.

Photos reproduced with permission.

<![CDATA[Chocolate - choc, stock and barrel.]]>Wed, 29 Apr 2015 04:00:02 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/chocolate-choc-stock-and-barrelChocolateMore chocolate than you can possibly handle.
Everyone loves chocolate, from the most common milk chocolate coated wafers of Kit Kat, to the produce of artisan chocolatiers in Switzerland (and more recently, London) that only the connoisseurs will have heard of. Thought by the ancient Aztecs to be a gift from the Gods, Cocoa beans (and chocolate) made their way from South America to Europe thanks to the forays of Christopher Columbus. Yes, he not only discovered the New World - he also brought chocolate to the courts of Europe (albeit not in as grand and sophisticated a manner as we'd like to believe, borderline thuggery aside).

Yet chocolate in the form we know of today is the result of a process only relatively recently invented. Building upon a process invented by his father to remove the fat from roasted cocoa beans (the fat more commonly known as Cocoa Butter), hence making the manufacture of Cocoa powder much easier, the Dutchman Coenraad van Houten further improved this process by treating the resulting powder with alkaline salts, allowing the powder to mix more easily with water. The resulting "Dutch chocolate" has a darker colour and much milder taste than unprocessed cocoa.

Unfortunately, the "Dutching" process does destroy significant proportions of the original antioxidants in Cocoa. Fortunately, Cocoa is known to be so high in antioxidant content that some claim the resulting amount, albeit reduced, is still significant. You might want to check that claim out with your nutritionist before using it to justify a chocolate binge.

ChocolateYou know which one we'd be going for.
Either way, let's face it. We like chocolate for how it tastes - having antioxidant properties is a convenient excuse to eat more - lots of chances to with our cake selection! That said, it often helps to know what's going into your mouth. So the next time you pick up a piece of chocolate, read the label:

- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate usually has cocoa content ranging from 70-99%, with the rest made up of sugar and fat. Unsweetened chocolate is what goes into our bakes. Plain and simple.

- Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate is solid chocolate with milk powder, liquid milk or condensed milk added. Regulations in Europe specify a minimum of 25% cocoa solids, while the US government requires 10% concentration of chocolate liquor, for chocolate to be considered "milk chocolate". Milk chocolate powder is also used to make ultra-creamy hot chocolate drinks. 

- White chocolate: Not our personal favourite unfortunately - white chocolate is made up of sugar, milk and cocoa butter without the cocoa solids. Tasty and creamy as it is, even if mixed in with exotic flavours (like green tea), it's still basically a sugared block of cocoa fat. Not a fan.

Feeling a little more knowledgeable about chocolate already? Now you can drop by our café in Yangon and reward yourself with a slice of this:
Chocolate tart
Go on, have a slice. Some say this is a winning recipe.
<![CDATA[The Press Office Café Opens in Yangon, Myanmar]]>Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:47:53 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/the-press-office-cafe-opens-in-yangon-myanmarFor immediate release: 22 Apr 2015

Bringing together the best of café culture, social responsibility and Myanmar’s unique flavours.
PictureCoffees and cakes available from the 4th of May 2015
Yangon, Myanmar: The Press Office Café has announced that it will open for business to the public starting with a soft launch opening on Monday, 4 May 2015. This highly anticipated opening comes after months of exciting renovations aiming to bring a fresh face to Yangon’s trendy café scene. Started by a team of young local and foreign entrepreneurs, The Press Office aims to give Myanmar its best in terms of ambience, produce, service and social engagement.

Inspired by the minimalist styles of cafés in Europe, Australia and the Americas, The Press Office is dedicated to creating a hip and ethical lounge environment for emerging local youths and expats. All pastries and cakes are baked on a daily basis depending on the availability of fresh ingredients, so café-goers can always expect an exciting array of baked goods straight from the oven. With delicious and locally sourced high-quality food and drinks, the café is set to be a refreshing counterpoint to the status quo in the industry.

Café-goers can expect more than delicious cake and coffee. The Press Office also supports the local arts community by offering local artists a unique space to exhibit their work, surrounding café-goers with beautiful and socially responsible art.  

The Press Office is also an equal opportunity employer that offers fair wages and proper training, with the aim of improving staff retention and eventually encouraging staff ownership of the business. “For too long, businesses have seen profit as simply raising revenues and cutting costs,” said Eugene Lim, one of the owners of the The Press Office. “This can lead to some pretty nasty consequences – labour exploitation, cutting corners on quality, poor relationships between management and staff. We’re starting from scratch, getting it right from day one.”

Will they succeed in changing the industry for the better? “It’s always tough to be going against the grain,” said Lim. “But come by and try out what we have to offer, and let the flavours do the talking”

About: The Press Office Café Ltd. is based in Yangon, Myanmar. Founded in 2015, The Press Office maximises use of locally sourced ingredients in baking and beverage-making, fusing Western baking and barista techniques with local produce. The Press Office also supports the arts and the community by offering space for organising events and exhibitions.

For press inquiries, please contact gallery@thepressofficecafe.com

<![CDATA[Cafe culture - The top 5 most famous cafes in the world]]>Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:52:02 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/cafe-culture-the-top-5-most-famous-cafes-in-the-worldCoffeeYou said you wanted just a cup of coffee?
If you wanted a cup of coffee, there are more than enough ways to get one: a nespresso machine, perhaps. Or a big coffee dispenser. Or perhaps something more personal, an aeropress for the more savvy among us, or a simple french press for the others. Or a sock. Or, in times of desperation, a packet of instant coffee.

You wouldn't need to go to a cafe per se, if a cup of coffee was all you wanted. Of course, if it were conveniently located just round the corner, then why not. But most of the time, the reason you go to a cafe is not purely the coffee.

Les Deux MagotsLes Deux Magots, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris
For more than a century now, cafes have been at the heart of a large part of human creativity. Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway and even Pablo Picasso all had their cafe haunts in Paris, for example. A hilarious reminder of this can be found in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris", in which Owen Wilson's character gets magically transported back in time during his midnight walks in Paris and meets the literary greats in person. Supposedly.

And I doubt it was the coffee that made these cafés great centres of intellectual, literary and artistic fecundity. Quite to the contrary, cafes being at the crossroads of serious and informal, sometimes boisterous and crowded, other times placid and contemplative, with no boundaries of class, ethnicity or origin preventing people from entering - all that likely set the stage for these creative minds to wander and be inspired.

The coffee was but the icing on the cake. And it was more than cake and coffee that made cafes so important. Because cafe culture is about so much more than the coffee and the food. It's about the people that transform these cafes into institutions in themselves.

And that's also why we want to be one of the few cafes in Myanmar to offer our walls and our space up to intellectual, artistic, literary and even musical expression. We do it differently, and hopefully it brings a new breath of fresh air to the Yangon cafe scene.

If you're into history or literature, or simply need an excuse to travel, check out our list of the top 5 most famous cafés in the world:

1.Café La Rotonde, Montparnasse, Paris, France
"No matter what cafe in Montparnasse you ask a taxi-driver to bring you to from the right bank of the river, they always take you to the Rotonde" - The Sun Also Rises, E. Hemingway

2. Le Dôme, Montparnasse, Paris, France
Unfortunately, now a more established seafood restaurant, no longer catering to up-and-coming artists and writers.

3. Literaturnoe Kafe, St. Petersburg, Russia
Opened in 1816, and said to be the last café visited by poet Alexander Pushkin before he died in a duel.

4. Les Deux Magots, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, France
Known as Hemingway's favourite spot in Paris, and also served the likes of Arthur Rimbaud, Simone de Beauvoir, André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Jean Paul Sartre, and even Picasso

5. Café Braunerhof, Vienna, Austria
Located near the Habsburg city palace, this is said to be writer Thomas Bernhard's favourite spot.
<![CDATA[Bar Storia del Caffè - Bangkok, Thailand]]>Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:48:56 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/bar-storia-del-caffe-bangkok-thailandOriginally posted by Mona & Patty's Eats

Bar Storia del Caffè - literally translated to the Bar of Coffee History. Situated in Ei8ht Thonglor, in the upper reaches of Bangkok's trendy Thonglor Strip, Bar Storia takes a modern hipster cafe twist on traditional Italian café culture

Mona & Patty's quick takes:
Storia del Caffè
Wooden panels and furniture create a charming vintage feel inside.
Our pick at Bar Storia Del Caffé - Baked eggs served with toasted baguette.
Storia del caffè
Baked Eggs served with Toasted Baguettes
We love the extended artisan dessert menu at Bar Storia Del Caffé. The apple tart is rich with perfect caramelisation throughout. Great paired with a nice strong cup of flat white.
Storia del caffè
Images and write-up reproduced with permission from Mona & Patty's Eats. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram!

And the quest to locate the best cafes in the world continues...
<![CDATA[Our first contributors!]]>Thu, 16 Apr 2015 22:10:57 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/our-first-contributorsPatty Mona EatsPat (left) & Mona (right)
Great news for all you cafe (especially hipster cafe)/food fans! Over dinner earlier today, we've added our first contributor to our blog that isn't ourselves. Introducing Pat - who really has a much longer name which I can (amazingly) remember how to spell AND pronounce. But we shall just call her Pat.

Pat is an old friend from university days in London, and is one half of the duo behind Mona & Patty's Eats, and she's kindly agreed to contribute reviews from their extensive food travels. 

We'll be sharing some of their posts from their food forays around the world, simply because there's too much good food and too many nice cafes for us to go through on our own. Everyone needs help locating the best cafes in the world!

In their own words: 

Hi we are Mona and Pat. Best friends who share the love food and are constantly on a hunt for new places and dishes to try. This page is our journal as we embark on our foodie travels in, and outside of Bangkok, sharing our thoughts as we go. Follow us and maybe we can inspire where and what you choose to eat next :)

If you haven't already done so, follow them on Facebook and Instagram
Chelsea Quarter Cafe, King's Road, London
Cakes @ Chelsea Quarter Cafe, King's Road, London. These look properly good. By @monapattyeats.
<![CDATA[Inspired by: Leyas, Camden, London]]>Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:20:13 GMThttp://www.thepressofficecafe.com/blog/inspired-by-leyas-camden-londonPictureReally Hipster.
Leyas in Camden Town, London, is a characteristically hipster cafe. Apart from being situated on Camden high street, little more about Leyas is mainstream.

Starting with the decor, the most notable element is the big patch of exposed brick on the lower floor, which houses their seating area. Gone are the days where a perfectly finished and sculpted wall is a virtue - exposed brick is the way to go. The furniture is, in their own words, a "mish-mash of wood furniture and burgundy Chesterfields". Vintage tables, chairs, artwork and light fittings come together to form an odd yet cohesive and comfortable environment in which to have a coffee, cake and simply spend a contemplative lazy afternoon.

Leyas, Camden Town, LondonThat's the way you use your frothed milk foam.
Food wise, Leyas serves up some killer poached eggs: whether in the style of eggs benedict, florentine or royale, I've known friends who crave these eggs. Unfortunately, good service discipline means they only serve breakfast till noon - and we rarely wake early enough to get a taste of those breakfast platters. No photos as a result, unfortunately!

That said, the coffee is top notch. Each cup of Artisan coffee is made swiftly but with care, and presented beautifully in cups that remind us of Patrick Jane in The Mentalist. Photos speak for themselves - although a poor substitute for actually smelling and tasting these! 

Leyas, Camden Town, LondonIt's cool to have a hole in your wall.
Their basement also doubles as an event space: we used to organise blind tasting sessions here, allowing guests to taste teas and coffees and learn about them without the prejudice of provenance or price. Leyas also welcomes the many contemporary artists based in the Camden area and in North London to display artwork in this space - an initiative to engage which we take on as a core part of our business model, supporting other local businesses and artists.

After all, making and appreciating good coffee and cakes is in itself an art form. And we should learn from the best when setting up our own cafes in Myanmar.

Planning a visit to London? Leyas is located next to Mornington Crescent underground station, on the Northern Line. If you're visiting, Camden Lock market is another must-see in the area, followed by a stroll along Regent's Canal from Camden to either Little Venice to the west, or Islington to the east.