Lockjaw Records (Sarah Shout Louder’s other love) recently teamed up with Sham City Roasters to create their own bespoke Lockjaw Coffee. They challenged Rick Delaney, who usually writes serious stuff for Dying Scene, to take it for a serious taste-test.
Bravely, Delaney chose to do this early in the morning, halfway through the liver-crippling marathon of Manchester Punk Festival. He’s a true hero; here’s his (inebriated, tangential, absolutely hilarious) story.
In screaming sunshine, I hotfoot across Manchester with a photographer on the verge of alcohol-induced paralysis and a shopping list of accoutrements and crucial equipment for a coffee morning. The goal is a double review – the latest compilation and a custom coffee blend from the hardworking and frankly spectacular bunch at Lockjaw Records.
Surprisingly minimal fucking around in shops later – camera operator Josh Sumner [Shout Louder’s resident photographer] sweats outside – we get the gear and head for an apartment on the North side of town. We call Carly Ashburner – one of many truly magical humans attending Manchester Punk Festival 2019 and literal bench-presser of band members. She meets us on the street in typical high spirits. We head upstairs.
In the swankiest of weekend rentals, overlooking a spectacular Manchester cityscape and the Peak District National Park, I find a scene of absolute mayhem.
John Dempsey, of Roughneck Riot fame, greets me enthusiastically in nothing but a pair of red, blue and gold boxer shorts that would make Van Damme blush. Former Habits bass player and general dragon-botherer Lee Barrez sits, shirtless too, but in more modest swimwear and sunglasses. He rifles through ‘90s rap tracks and laments his Welsh homeland at any available opportunity. The fourth resident for the weekend, esteemed tattoo artist Rachel Haney, is nowhere to be seen. She occasionally chips in conversation from the bathroom/bedroom, or whichever corner she’s decided to recover from the night before in.
I sit down at the coffee table, move an enormous bowl of orangey pink punch with five or six soggy paper drinking straws floating in it, and attempt to prepare for the – perfectly scheduled in advance – coffee morning. Josh lies himself face down next to the punch bowl and, like everyone else, periodically takes slurps of the over-proof liquid.
The coffee we’re attempting to review is one of the latest additions to the record label’s catalogue. Simply titled Lockjaw Coffee, it was lovingly blended by Sham City Roasters in Hastings with members of the label’s crew. The beans themselves have been sourced from the Farallones region of Colombia – renowned for its environmentally sound agricultural practices.
I’d been handed the no-nonsense brown paper package the previous evening by Lockjaw’s Lesley-Anne O’Brien. Passed with a knowing nod and the words “Colombia’s finest”, if the crew’s impeccable taste in music extends to their coffee then I was sure the description would be most fitting.
Logistical issues of trying to arrange a coffee morning with six pissheads at the biggest piss up of the year meant we were forced to opt for the pre-ground variety, but it smells phenomenal – deep, rich, chocolatey, sweet. I get excited and bang the kettle on. Lockjaw does also offer a full-bean blend too but like fuck I was trying to source a coffee grinder on top of dragging Josh’s sorry arse across town in thirty-degree heat.
Whilst the kettle boils, we should be enjoying a pre-pick-me-up pick-me-up from Canadian riff-weavers Wolfrik but seeing as the most technologically competent of us is still battling liquor demons on the floor, I get some first impressions of the raw product from the group instead.
Carly, an enthusiastic coffee drinker, says with her nose barely out of the bag.
“Wooo. Chocolatey!! Mmmmm. Ooooooo. Yes. Very good.”
Lee, another aficionado of the French press, comments in barely audible Welsh.
“Yeah, boi. Smells good that, lad.”
Finally, non-coffee-drinker John, still looking like an axed Street Fighter character, helpfully adds.
“Doesn’t even look like coffee, that.”
As we pass the product around the room, Josh quietly relocates to the balcony where he will remain. He’s got a big day taking pictures of ska bands ahead of him and he’s also on bass duties for Fair Do’s. We leave him to snooze and dream of blast beats. He’s in a happier place.
The kettle boils. The percolator fills. I survey the room and decide to brew it strong. By now, we should be getting all sludgy with Hastings punks Haest, one of the many bands on the compilation that hail from the same town as the coffee was blended. I remind those still working on getting the tunes on that we have a job to do and sit the coffee pot down.
With the percolator fully loaded, it’s difficult to press and barely creeps a millimetre every two seconds. After twenty-odd-years, John finally takes an interest in coffee.
“Can I have a go, please? Looks dead satisfying that.”
I oblige and we all take in the simple pleasure of watching a man enjoy his first coffee plunging experience.
All brewed up, we’re still unable to access the compilation and enthusiasm for trying is reaching a low. My laptop is too quiet, we don’t have an aux lead, and no one can figure out how to unzip files on their phones. Lee takes charge and puts Idle Will Kill on by Osker. He knows my Achilles Heel and that even with pressing journalising to do, I’m unlikely to force the issue further whilst such a legendary release is playing.
As the coffee morning reaches the real exciting bit, it becomes clear that we’re failing rather spectacularly. No tunes and a comatose camera person.
Fortunately, I have since given the compilation a thorough pursuing on decent speakers and can confirm that it’s a banger. Stand out tracks for me were The Affect Heuristic’s previously unreleased shred-a-thon Mel Gibbons, Swedish speedsters Rebuke’s Death-Defining Stunts, and down ‘n’ dirty garage punks Midwich Cuckoos with Russian Doll. It’s also been responsible for me developing a love of upbeat Scottish misery rockers Goodbye Blue Monday.
It’s not all blisteringly fast though. Mid-tempo stuff is taken care of by the likes of Burnt Tapes, Wild Tales, and Misgivings; whilst those preferring a more tranquil coffee accompaniment are well-catered for too. Matilda’s Scoundrels, Jason Stirling & The Blue Moon Band, and Simon Wells & Jens Jensen all provide some softer sounds on the collection.
Consisting of 29 tracks from a variety of punk-related genres, you really do get some serious bang-for-your-buck with the package Lockjaw have put together.
A 30g portion of any posh coffee is going to set you back at least a fiver and Lockjaw throws in almost thirty tracks of quality, independent music too. Released just before festival season steps into full swing, combining a Thermos full of Lockjaw coffee and this set of tunes would make the perfect start to an early morning road trip. Just add a car-full of mates with slightly different musical tastes and a combined need for hot, steaming liquid stimulation.
We pour up. Some take it long. I go for an espresso measure to kick things off and take my first sips as food critic seriously. Enjoyed neat, the chocolatiness of the blend is immediately dominant. It’s rich, deep, and backed with a subtle sweetness that the tasting notes in the press release inform me is reminiscent of almond.
John interrupts my musings.
“Yeah. Tastes like coffee that.”
We laugh. I scribble down the epiphany and survey the room for a more creative opinion but Lee and Carly’s two-handed mug clasps and closed-eyed inhales inches from the elixir say more than words ever could. You can almost see their health meters refilling and I decide not to interrupt.
Lee finally sits his empty cup down and breaks the silence with a bold suggestion.
“Be even better with some booze in it, eh?”
We agree and with our first cups finished, we decide to make things a little more fun. The already seriously depleted bottle of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum on the side gets involved. My second helping is taken longer with a healthy measure of the liquor, along with double and whipped cream. It tastes like any other coffee would when prepared in such a manner – fucking brilliant.
With the booze flowing and good times being had by all, Josh suddenly rouses with the realisation that it’s about an hour until he’s due on stage. He needs to take drastic action. He smashes down a coffee – black with a heavy rum content – and quickly pulls everyone from conversations about last night’s antics, forthcoming set clashes, and must-catch acts during the rest of the festival.
As instructed, we get our shit together rapidly and pour out into the street, heading in separate directions for the first performances of the day. We’ll reconvene shortly for Fair Do’s and check if Josh is still sweating profusely.
Fortunately, he smashed it. Evidently, ‘Colombia’s finest’ does indeed serve as suitable festival morning jump start.
Later in the day, I run into one of the Lockjaw crew outside.
“Soooo, how did it go, man? Get everything you need?”
I laugh uncomfortably at the shambles of the review session I’d managed to orchestrate.
“Yeah, mate. It went exactly as expected…”
Lesley, Rob, Joelle, Sarah, Cedric – your coffee is fucking banging and your taste in music ain’t half bad either. Top marks to you all!
If this bizarre review has piqued your interest in sampling some of the crew’s delicious beans, you can pick it up here. If you’re a coffee drinking punk, I assure you, you’ll be most impressed.
Thank you to Rick Delaney for that fantastic, one-of-a-kind guest article. Want to read more from him, and see some of the photos Josh actually managed to take at MPF? Delaney put together a brilliant feature on the photographers of Manchester Punk Festival, which you can read here.