Kathryn Lewis talks brews and brunch with Casey Lalonde and Fi O’Brien, the game-changing duo behind Wiltshire’s all-female roastery, Girls Who Grind
Which foods take you back to childhood?
CL: American comfort food, something like a fat stack of pancakes with lots of maple syrup. I’ve been in the UK for almost ten years and the pancakes I’ve eaten here haven’t even come close to those at home in upstate New York.
FO: I’m originally from Melbourne, so it’s got to be dim sum or some sort of Asian food. There’s a strong Vietnamese influence there and my mum and I loved exploring new casual dining joints.
What kind of coffee do you drink at home?
CL: Filter coffee – a lot of Girls Who Grind as we’ve got a good supply. Right now I’m using my Chemex and Kalita Wave to brew filter: I really love the clean cups they’re yielding.
FO: Black filter coffee. At the weekend I’ll brew a large cafetiere for me and my husband. I drink a lot of our coffee but we also get sent samples from other roasteries, so I’ll often try them at home.
Which restaurants make you happy?
CL: I don’t get to eat out much as I have two little girls, but I love The Walled Garden at Mells near Frome – their chocolate and Guinness cake is the best. I also really like Cargo Cantina at Wapping Wharf – I’m a sucker for Mexican food.
FO: BOX-E at Wapping Wharf in Bristol. It’s a tiny 14-seater restaurant in an old shipping container. I love the intimacy, the short and seasonal menu and watching chef-owner Elliott Lidstone work.
What does home taste like?
CL: My mum’s lasagne. I made it for dinner last night and still use the family recipe. American lasagne is different to how you guys make it: we add layers of cheese including parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella and use sausage meat instead of mince. It’s pretty hefty.
FO: Although I grew up in Melbourne, my background is half Polish, half Hungarian. I like to cook comforting things for my family such as paprika chicken – it reminds me of childhood with my grandparents.
What’s your most memorable coffee experience?
CL: Coffee made by the farmers on a trip to origin in El Salvador. Drinking coffee among the coffee trees was an amazing experience.
FO: When I visited The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, one of the baristas prepared an amazing tropical filter coffee. He only had about 50g of beans left, but he was so enthusiastic about the coffee and wanted to share it with me.
What’s your go-to comfort food after a long day at the roastery?
CL: First I’ll need some sort of IPA, I’m loving everything from Bristol’s Left Handed Giant at the moment. Then probably something Mexican and very cheesy – maybe enchiladas.
FO: Either my grandparents’ paprika chicken or Chinese chicken. Something that’s simple to make but feels nourishing.
Where do you go for coffee on your day off?
CL: Colonna & Smalls in Bath – it’s a slick set-up. I’ll also go to Society Standard as they brew a good cup, but my alltime favourite place to drink coffee is my garden.
FO: If I’m in Bath, I’ll generally go to Colonna to try some new and interesting coffees. In Bristol, I like Small Street Espresso – its small size and pokey corners remind me of a Melbourne cafe.
What’s your brunch order?
CL: Probably something boring like avo on toast. I’ll add poached eggs and lots of chilli flakes, and a filter coffee on the side. If they have waffles I may be tempted …
FO: Anything with potato rosti and poached eggs. I’m definitely more of a savoury bruncher than sweet. And, of course, a filter coffee.