Hello everyone, I’m Andrea – and my caffeinated guess is that as you read this, the liquid result of a roasted coffee bean is not too far away. I’ve now worked at Virgin Atlantic for just over 13 years, nine of which I’ve spent sipping my way around the globe as cabin crew, and as you’ll see from my future posts – coffee is my cup of tea.
Born in south London, I’ve lived in the capital pretty much all my life, and after my studies I joined Virgin Atlantic with the intention of staying for a long summer. Fast forward quite a few summers and countless cappuccinos in all corners of the world, and my passion for coffee has continued to soar beyond 35,000 feet. There’s many a story behind the cups I’ve enjoyed on my numerous layovers, but I’ll share these with you a little ‘latte’.
My earliest, most nostalgic recollection of coffee was paired with the smell of a cigar. My late grandmother used to drink black coffee as she puffed away, and watching her is a memory I’ll always cherish. Then from the age of 14 I drank black coffee with my dad, and it’s now a defining part of our relationship. Back then, I’d be roused from my sleep by the smell and sound of his early morning coffee-making rituals, and this daily wake-up call meant we could drink a mug together before school. He may no longer be my alarm clock, but we still meet for coffee dates on a weekly basis.
During my gap year I spent some time in Salamanca in Spain. While I was there I became rather partial to a cortado (espresso with flat steamed milk) amongst the ladies that did coffee in the Plazor Mayor, and I’m sure this is when I began to perceive coffee in a more cosmopolitan sphere. There’s no doubt the robust elements of coffee played a significant role in my student years, and yes – it continues to power me through night flights in my cabin crew role too.
I fly with my little eye, something beginning with C. When people ask what I do while I’m away on a trip I simply reply that I get down to ‘coffeeing’; a perfectly legitimate word in my Arabica dictionary. I venture out on a Bond-like mission in search of a good-tasting, ethically sourced cup and endeavour to find an independent coffee shop within a three mile radius of my hotel.
I relish the adventure, so I’ll often just go for a wander. I find the best stories always come from impromptu moments, like being invited into a local family home in Cuba and being served a coffee straight from the stove. But I also love the more planned experiences too, like visiting roasting companies in Brooklyn and enjoying a few cups on site. Worlds apart, brought together by coffee.
Last year I came across a café using the steampunk brew method in Boston and a pop-up bar serving nitro cold brew in Hong Kong, and I get very excited when I stumble upon a speakeasy in San Francisco that serves great coffee. In fact, making new coffee discoveries while I’m away is my absolute passion, so it’s no surprise I often feel a mini espresso rush before I’ve even touched a drop.
I’ve just returned from Chicago and would highly recommend Sawada Coffee. Set in an open-plan, rustic warehouse with a ping pong table and bold graffiti designs, it’s the perfect place to work, sip and play, though the coffee is undoubtedly the highlight. With beans supplied by small batch roasting company Metropolis just around the corner, the Military Latte is a must-try – as are the handcrafted doughnuts by local artisanal bakery Doughnut Vault for those with a sweet tooth. (I had the toasted almond, delicious!) Owned by world-famous latte artist Hiroshi Sawada, it’s another addition to my bank of great coffee shops all over the Virgin Atlantic network, and I look forward to sharing more of my finds with you over the coming months.