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Coffee tasting (or cupping) at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King
Interior and coffee machine at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King
Coffee tasting (or cupping) at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King
Smelling the coffee beans at the coffee tasting (or cupping) at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King
Coffee tasting (or cupping) at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King
Coffee tasting (or cupping) at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King
Cold Brew: Coffee tasting (or cupping) at Drink, Shop & Dash - a new specialty coffee bar in King

I once did a wine tasting course together with a friend and my sister. We thought it was a good idea to learn ‘how to impress people in a restaurant when ordering a bottle glass of wine’. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it, except that it’s fun to drink a lot of wine in one evening (probably don’t need a tasting course to know that) and that the food they paired the wine with was pretty amazing. Especially the cheese platter at the end.

New Coffee Bar DASH

So what did I expect from a coffee tasting at one of the newest coffee bars in King’s Cross? I guess the same. To learn how to recognize and appreciate specialty coffees, but most of all just to do something fun on a Saturday morning.

Drink, Shop & Dash opened recently right next door to Drink, Shop & Do which was actually one of my first ‘discoveries’ in London. It focusses on take-away (Alchemy) coffee and to promote the place they started hosting coffee tastings on (every other) Saturday.

Coffee Tasting

After a short introduction we got to do some coffee tasting – or cupping as it’s officially called – ourselves. Starting with smelling the different beans (couldn’t tell much of a difference), then the ground coffee (love that smell), followed by tasting the coffee after the water had been added. For each of the 5 samples we scored a number of criteria such as acidity, bitterness and sweetness.

Even though I didn’t really know what I was doing (just slurp so you look/sound like you do), I could clearly taste the differences between each cup. Some I really liked, others…not so much. Seems I have a preference for natural processed beans which are known to have a slight dirty flavor (Hey, don’t judge until you’ve tried!).

Some Like it Cold

We finished the coffee tasting with something quite special. Not a cheese platter… But a cold coffee brew that had taken 18 hours to prepare. Nice to drink on a hot summer day, but not really my cup of tea coffee. Although the rest of the group really seemed to like it. At the same time they didn’t like my dirty coffee, so I guess it’s true when they say that there’s no accounting for taste.

Review Eating London East End Food Tour: St John Bread & Wine Spitalfields
Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Best Bacon Sandwich at St John Bread & Wine

And so it happened that I ticked three dishes off Time Out’s 100 best dishes in London list…all in one afternoon.

I was meeting our guide, or actually guides, at Old Spitalfields Market. I love this part of London. It’s where I get my hair done, enjoy some of the best coffee, go shopping, and it’s the best place to see street art. But today’s tour was about something else that the East End is known for: its food.

Eating London figured that the best way to experience a city is through its food. And I couldn’t agree more. Last week they invited me to go on their East End Food Tour to learn all about where ‘real Londoners’ go for the best dishes in town. Lead the way!

Review Eating London East End Food Tour: The English Restaurant - bread and butter pudding with rum custard
Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Best Fish and Chips in the UK at Poppies
Review Eating London East End Food Tour: the best fish and chips in London at Poppies

In 3.5 hours you literally get a taste of the cultural diversity of East London. But it’s not only a food tour, it’s a walking tour as well. Instead of walking straight from one food stop to the other, you get to see the most fascinating places and beautiful streets in between. The guides don’t only know a lot about food; they’re also able to tell you interesting facts about the history of this neighborhood and its famous street art.

But in the end it’s all about the food. For years the British didn’t have the best reputation when it came to their relationship with food. I also didn’t have the best memory of eating in London before I moved here. Today it’s completely different. London is one of the food capitals of the world. And this tour shows that when it comes to real authentic British food, some knew what they were doing all along.

Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Best Indian Curry on Brick Lane at Aladin
Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Androuet cheese

What I love about this tour is that it shows how over the years people from different cultures that came to the East End have influenced British food. You might think that it doesn’t get more British than fish and chips with mushy peas, but actually the national dish in the UK is… Indian curry. And the hot salt beef bagel, baked in the traditional Jewish style, also made it to Time Out’s top 100 list.

Not to worry, you’re not eating that entire bagel all by yourself. After all, there are 8 food stops in total. So at every stop they’d prepared more manageable tasting sizes for us. Which doesn’t mean it’s still a lot of food and you better skip breakfast and plan for a very late dinner.

Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Hot Salt Beef Bagel from Beigel Bake
Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Best Hot Salt Beef Bagel from Beigel Bake on Brick Lane
Review Eating London East End Food Tour: Pizza East Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart

The tour ended at Pizza East. One of those trendy restaurants that I’ve been meaning to go to for a long time. But we didn’t come here for pizza. No, the real reason this place is a must-visit in London is their salted chocolate caramel tart. Very rich, but just…perfect.

The sweet tooth in me would normally consider this to be the highlight of the day. But there was something that I thought was even better. The bacon sandwich at St John Bread & Wine. I like bacon, but I never thought about ordering a sandwich with just that. Turns out: best sandwich ever! Although in an attempt to be a true Londoner I should call it a bacon sarnie or bacon butty from now on.

If you’re interested in food and want to experience the East End the way the locals do, then I can highly recommend this tour. I know I’ll be signing up for another tour next time I’m visiting Rome, Amsterdam or Prague where they offer similar food tours. It’s simply the best (and tastiest) way to experience a city.

Blogshop at Home | Photoshop for Bloggers (the online version)
See what I just did there, in the picture above? A week ago that would have taken me ages. And it probably wouldn’t have looked like this. I find it hard to believe, but it looks like I’m finally ‘getting’ Photoshop. At least the basics that I need for my blog. All thanks to two crazy talented women and an online course called Blogshop at Home.

I remember the first time I heard about Blogshop. It was my first week in London and I was at Meet the Blogger, the weekend I decided to start my own blog. The week after, some were going to another event for bloggers, but this time to learn about Photoshop. When I saw this video, I knew that that was exactly what I needed. But I had just missed the one time they were in London!

Anything digital usually doesn’t scare me, but I’ve always found Photoshop just too overwhelming. I saw what others were doing with it, but then every time I opened an image in Photoshop I had no idea where to start or what to do. The only reason I still had Photoshop on my computer was because of my favorite editing tool, but I wasn’t using 99,9% of its features.

Blogshop at Home | Photoshop for Bloggers (the online version)

How much can change in just one weekend! Blogshop now also offers Blogshop at Home, an online course over a 2-day period from the comfort of your own home. The only thing that’s missing is that incredible goodie bag.

What I learned at Blogshop at Home

I had some doubts before signing up. The thought Is that all? even crossed my mind. But summing up a list of the tricks they teach you doesn’t do this course justice. The video is 3.5 hours long, but with all the pauses to practice yourself, rewinding to check if you fully understand what they’re doing, and typing out notes (10 pages of tips and tricks – small font!), you’ll spend about a day and a half learning about Photoshop.

So without making a complete list of all the things you’ll learn, here’s my top 5:

  1. Creating templates: you know how I usually place two portrait photos next to each other? Well, I had figured out a way to do that, but with a Photoshop template this is going to save me so much time!
  2. Using shapes: placing a photo into a shape (like the example on my screen in the first photo) and then adding some interesting effects. It’s not that difficult if you know how to do it… and I do now.
  3. Masking: which is when you replace a part of one photo with a similar part (that’s looking better) from another photo. That felt like serious Photoshop magic! I don’t want to use too many tricks in my photos to keep it real, but this can change a photo from good to great.
  4. Retouching: Flawless skin in every photo from now on!
  5. Animated GIFs: I don’t see myself using this on my blog anytime soon, but they’re so much fun to make.

Should you do it?

I realize it’s a lot of money, but if you’re like me and you have all these ideas of what your blog should look like, but you don’t know how to do it… then YES! I’m still no Photoshop expert, and I don’t need to be. But for bloggers this is just what you need. Still not convinced? Then have a look at what other Blogshop students have to say: