Dose Espresso/Square Mile Red Brick – Review

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September 30, 2014 by Beans Ahoy

This is a joint review this week. Despite the coffee coming from Dose, it was a Square Mile Red Brick so I will confine my review of Dose to the atmosphere/service/etc. and my review of Square Mile to the coffee only.

Red Brink has been around quite a while now and has been an espresso mainstay of Square Mile. Square Mile coffee is a well respected company and now supplies into several shops in London. The blend of Red Brick they say is seasonal, blending the best of that season into an espresso…I’m not convinced.

To be blunt, Red Brick tastes like a blend of all the coffees they want to get rid of to make way for new stock. Whether this is the case or not, allow me to explain. The Red Brick I had was 20% Kenyan, 20% Costa Rica, 20% El Salvador, 40% Guatemalan. Individually there are some really terrific coffees in there. Guatemalan at the moment is certainly one of my favorite, El Salvadorian has a terrific gruffness to it which is sharp but not bitter. Rather it is almost salty and savory in taste. Why then they would add Kenyan and Costa Rica to the mix, I have no idea. In the cup they disappear next to the El Salvador and Guatemalan.

I can’t help but feel Square Mile has lumped together all of what they consider to be the best lots of coffee from each region (which is what they say they do) and marketed it as a sort of All Star espresso. Needless to say, All Star teams rarely live up to their hype as conflicting players with equally big egos struggle to play together. It’s confused and as a result I feel that quite a lot of the good traits of these coffees are lost in the melee. If I can put it this way, it doesn’t have a purpose. I always think that coffee should have a purposeful story to it. What is the aroma, how does that prepare you for the taste, what is the taste, how does that interact with the aroma, what is the after taste. These elements need to fit together to create a pleasant experience. If you have an aroma telling you one thing, say a deep rich nutty aroma but a slightly insipid citrus but confused flavour, with an astringent metallic aftertaste, the over all impact of the coffee is going to be disjointed and confusing. That’s the best way I can describe Red Brick, confused. I feel there could be a far better coffee in there with a reduction in the number of regions, or a refinement of the balance of each type.

Really I am being a little pernickety. It makes a good espresso, just not a great espresso.

As for Dose! There was one overriding feature of my visit…the HEAT! The shop was unbearably hot which is not conducive to making people stay and buy more coffee. The staff seemed knowledgeable and could certainly make a good espresso. The decor is…well…a bit dull. Overall, it’s a good coffee shop. Would I go out of my way to go there? No.

Tasting Note:

Full, rich and powerful. A decent espresso, but very confused in the cup. Certainly think it could be better than it is. Definite taste of Raisins and prunes, perhaps a little too earthy for my liking. The aftertaste was surprisingly short. It was a little bitter, but not unpleasant. Quite yeasty. 7.6/10.0

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