Why I don't look for the perfect coffee but for the highest hit rate instead.

When I first pondered starting this blog I had a good think about the types of articles I’d like to write and hopefully the ones you’d like to read. One idea that instantly sprung to my oh so fertile mind was sharing the best place to get the perfect cup of coffee in Oxford.

Whilst sitting in a trendy coffee shop, sipping my flat white and pretending I was one of the cool kids it actually dawned on me that searching for the holy grail of coffee, that perfect cup, was actually pretty pointless. It doesn’t exist.

For me, my enjoyment of coffee actually hinges on a couple of things. The venue itself and what I call the coffee ‘hit rate’. Both have to stack up for me to enjoy the overall coffee experience and rate a coffee venue.


The venue

When it comes to the venue I always prefer smaller independents over larger chains, not because I’m trying to make some big anti-corporate statement (I’m far too simple-minded for such lofty pursuits) but because the quality of service is generally better. I like a place where people actually look at you, talk to you and give some indication they know what coffee is. Decent music coupled with creative décor and the all important power outlets are also pretty important.


The coffee

Then there’s the coffee itself. Saying somewhere makes the perfect coffee is a risky business. There are just too many variables for a cup of coffee to be perfect every time. These include the beans used, the freshness of said beans, the roasting date, the temperature of the water and the skill of of the particular person who makes your coffee on the day. Need I go on?

With this in mind I use my own ‘coffee hit-rate’. It’s less than scientific I warn you. For every 5 flat-whites I order I make a note of how many hit the spot and are consistent with the previous ones. The more consistent the coffee the more likely it is to reach a 5 out of 5. I try to order the same coffee but on different days and at busy/not so busy times and also try to ensure it’s made by different people just to put the venue, and not just one single person, to the test.


The overall experience matters

The coffee hit-rate coupled with the feel of the venue are what ultimately dictate whether I’ll willingly wave my Apple Watch over the card machine like a new-age yuppie and recommend the place to other people.

It’s still early days and I’m busy plying myself with coffee around Oxford ‘a la caffeine slut’ but my current front-runner is definitely Society Café, St Michaels Street, Oxford. Great vibe, friendly people, art exhibits and of course great coffee.

Image: Society Cafe Oxford