I love reading cafe reviews. A few weeks ago, I came across SOLO Coffee, a blog written by Eline Ferket, that features detailed reviews of cafes around the world. I started reading her reviews on Scottish cafes, given I live in Scotland, and I grew more intrigued with her writing style. I had the pleasure of talking with Eline over email to chat about her blog. The interview is below, edited lightly for clarity.
What is SOLO Coffee all about? Where did the inspiration for this blog come from?
SOLO Coffee is all about exploring the world’s specialty coffee shops, whether hidden or well-known, and connecting to the people who run them, the stories behind them, what they stand for, and obviously: the coffee. I started this blog when I was in travel quarantine this year, because I was extremely bored and missed visiting my favourite coffee shops. I felt it was a good way to show my support of something I’m passionate about, and also gave me a creative outlet during a time when there wasn’t much else for me to do. I really like writing and talking about all things coffee, so this felt like the perfect little project. I ended up meeting a lot of cool people because of it and learning a lot more about coffee and the industry around it, so I’m definitely going to keep this going!
At the moment, you are focused on cafe reviews. How did you decide on this focus?
The purpose of my blog is mainly to shine a light on specialty cafe’s during a challenging time for small independent businesses, so in each of my entries I wanted to focus on one cafe and what they have to offer in terms of coffee and community. In this way, I hope that more people will discover them and support them, so that we can all continue to enjoy coffee culture around the world for the years to come. That’s a big goal and obviously I’m only playing a teeny tiny part in it, but I like to think this blog at least makes some contribution.
Walk me through the process of writing a blog post. How do you go from “I have an idea” to a final piece?
That’s a good question, I guess I don’t really know exactly how I go about writing my posts. It depends largely on the coffee place, but I tend to follow the formula of writing about their coffee, their food options, their atmosphere, and what they do for the community, but I don’t strictly stick to that formula. I try to make sure I sound like a human, which was a challenge because I’m mostly used to writing pretty dry academic papers, which was quite liberating for myself, kind of like writing a diary entry except the entire internet can read it.
How often do you publish blog posts? What advice do you have for passionate coffee lovers who want to start writing about coffee?
Initially I was very ambitious and I wanted to post a new entry every Sunday, and I did keep this up for a good two months, but now I work full time as a barista and I have no time (or energy) or visit new coffee places and write entries. However I try to get a new entry up every two weeks now, I don’t really beat myself over it. I know the key to getting more attention to your blog is by putting out content consistently and regularly, but I am not really about quantity over quality. When I put an entry live, it better be good and if that takes a week or three then so be it. I would advise any coffee blogger to do the same, because otherwise you’re not really doing justice to the coffee or the cafe you’re writing about.
What is the most memorable coffee experience you have had so far?
Damn that’s a really really tough one, I’ve had a lot of great coffee experiences it’s hard to pick just one. I think in terms of drinking coffee, I was absolutely, utterly mind-blown by a flat white I tried at Century General in Edinburgh, it tasted more like strawberry short-cake than a strawberry short-cake itself, you can actually read about that experience on my blog if you’re interested. Then I’ve had so many great experiences making coffee; as a barista you sometimes get to experience real gems of moments between people connecting over a cup of coffee, which is a part of the job that I really love.
I’ll end with a light question. When do you have your first cup of coffee?
If you mean my first cup of coffee of my life it was probably when I was like seven years old and I sneakily tried some of my mum’s coffee and immediately spit it out because, well, I was seven. But if you mean my first cup of coffee of the day that’s usually around 7 am when I am dialing in the espresso at work and need to get the flavours right - which isn’t as romantic of a task as some think it is. You have to taste a lot of mediocre shots before you get it right sometimes, but that perfect shot is perfectly worth it and I usually make myself a nice calming pour-over right after :)
You can read Eline’s blog at solocoffee.org. I recommend the posts on Ukiyo Coffee, Central General Store, and Laboratorio Espresso.