A BEAN REVOLUTION: LONDON COFFEE ROASTERS
Words by Fiona Symington.
Join us as we go in search of the city's new breed of coffee roasters. We tell you where to go, what to order, and even how to subscribe, to get your regular coffee fix from this growing band of artisans.
OZONE COFFEE ROASTERS
Awarded Best Newcomer at this year’s London Coffee Festival, Ozone Coffee Roasters is a roaster with green credentials. For over 10 years it has roasted direct trade and organically grown coffee in New Zealand and now London. Sustainability and freshness are at the heart of its ethos. Coffee is hand-roasted daily using a vintage Probat UG22, with each of its limited single blends being ethically sourced and selected for its regional providence and flavour. Try the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a washed coffee described as a medium to dark roast with notes of berry and chocolate. On site its café prides itself on a menu based on locally sourced, sustainable and free range produce. The French toast inspired by the Middle Eastern flavours of apricots, orange blossom, and pistachios comes highly recommended. Make sure you take home its signature espresso blend.
Location: 11 Leonard Street EC2A 4AQ
Subscription: Online but no subscription.
Once a purely local haunt, Brixton’s Village is now a thriving food hub, home to the urban diversity that is south London. Nestled among its eclectic food stores, restaurants, and bars is Federation Coffee, a true local with a nearby roastery. Grab a window seat if you can, order yourself a flat white, and enjoy the thriving metropolis of traders and locals. The current blend is Contraband – this medium-bodied roast has all the favours of dark fruit, chocolate and roasted nuts as for the menu – the sweet and savoury delights including Antipodean favourite – the Anzac, are made just around the order at unit 46, its original home. All up, Federation is just perfect for some great people watching– just get there early.
Location: Unit 77-78, Brixton Village Market, SW9 8PS
Subscription: No but you can buy their coffee onsite.
The name says it all – simple, uncomplicated, basic. With a focus on quality and a commitment to getting back to the basics, Nude Expresso has been sourcing, roasting and blending from small farms since 2008. Coffee is aged 7-10 days post-roasting before it is delivered, allowing each roast to fully develop its flavour. Winner of Independent Café of the year in 2010 and 2013 by the Café Society, its Brick Lane and Soho sites offer “New Zealand ingenuity and a large dash of East End playfulness”. In other words, expect an approach to food that is seasonal, home grown, without pretension, and you won’t be disappointed. Try Roaster's Choice from head roaster, Richard Williams (he will select the best on offer when you order) or Nude's current seasonal single origin espresso, El Salvador Finca La Reforma. Drop into its roastery during the week to experience the full Monty at the old cooperage yard of the Truman Brewery, just off Brick Lane.
Location: Roastery @ 91-95 Brick Lane, E1 6SB; Café at Brick Lane 26 Hanbury Street E1 6QR Tel. 07712 899 335 and 19 Soho Square. W1D 3QN Tel. 07712 899 336
Subscription: 3-6-12 month subscriptions are on offer.
COLEMAN COFFEE ROASTERS
One of the newest residents of Spa Terminus, Coleman Coffee Roasters is right at home among this renegade band of wholesale food producers. Started by self-taught roaster Jack Coleman, this mainly wholesaler has a simple philosophy – flavour, freshness and traceability. Every coffee is roasted using a 1950 Otto Swadlo V3 from its home in south-east London. On a Saturday, you can experience a seriously good brew at its cafe bar inside Little Bread Pedlar. This tiny bar has all the feel on an improvised pop-up - two men, beans, and a coffee machine, that contributes to the relaxed neighbourly vibe of this food collective in Bermondsey. While there pick up the Fazenda Santa Helenafor medium to fully bodied roast with chocolate and caramel sweetness or the Finca La Perla for its citrus notes.
Location: Retail: Unit 5, Dockley Estate, Dockley Road, London
UNION HAND-ROASTED COFFEE
For 15 years, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee has dedicated itself to the art of sourcing and roasting Arabica coffee from its home in East London. Working directly with coffee cooperatives and farms, its aim has always been to forge sustainable relationships with the communities it works with. The result is a true union of producer and roaster that has lead to some of London’s most unique-tasting single estate coffees and blends. Coffee is roasted daily in small batches and supplied to names such as Gail’s Bakery, Canteen, as well as more local cafes such as Battersea’s Coffee Affair. A full subscription service is available online. So try their latest seasonal offering Equinox, a blend from small holders from Fincas EI Diamante and EI Argentina in EI Salvador, from Homacho Waeno Sidamo in Ethiopia and Fazendas Bobolink, Brazil. Or for a unique single estate, Cocagi from the cooperative Gashonga a micro-lot in Rwanda. As one of London’s early coffee pioneers, its code of practice for ethic sourcing, fair and direct trade is more than admirable.
Location: Wholesaler only but with a subscription service. Go to (http://www.unionroasted.com/)
Subscription: Whether it’s an annual subscription, a monthly subscription or a daily grind (porlex mini mill hand grinder, hario V60 ceramic dripper and latte mug), Union offers the full spectrum.
ALGERIAN COFFEE STORES
The trends, fads, and fashions of forever young Soho may come and go, but the Algerian Coffee Stores remains a permanent and enduring feature of this part of London. With its distinctive red door and awnings, it has been providing Londoners with quality coffees (and teas) since 1887. And while it is not a coffee roaster, its contribution to London’s coffee culture is unmistakable. Step inside to experience the heady aromas of over 80 coffees that are ground to order and to admire some of the original shop features – all the wooden shelves, including the counter. Try the Algerian Special for your early morning wake-up call or one of the spiced coffees such as the aptly named - Five Spices blended with cassia, cinnamon, anise, pepper and cardamom. Order yourself a coffee and while you wait study the coffee paraphernalia.
Location: 52 Old Compton Street, W1V 6PB. Tel: 020 7437 2480
Subscription: No but you can order online.
CLIMPSON & SONS
For well over a decade, Climpsons & Sons have been sharing their enthusiasm for the humble coffee bean from their home on Broadway Market in Hackney. As one of the pioneers of London’s coffee revolution, their artisan approach to coffee is well established. Visit their award-winning café to sample some of London’s finest and where the menu is sourced from local producers. Close by is Climpson Arch, home to the roaster as well as an event venue. Try the Climpson Estate Express Blend, a blend that is revisited each year from ethically sourced, sustainably produced, and socially responsible arabicas. Or the filter start pack for those who want to put their filter coffee or aeropress to the test.
Location: 67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH (café); Climpson Arch 374, Helmsley Place E8 3SB
Subscription: 3-6-12 month subscription is available. Perfect for any coffee enthusiastic who wants to sample the Climpson range with new coffee arriving every month.
MONMOUTH COFFEE COMPANY
As one of the city's first generation of new coffee roasters, Monmouth has inspired Londoners since opening its doors in 1978. From a small cafe in Convent Garden (pictured), Monmouth roasted some of the world's best coffees using a small UNO and finally a 1930s Whitmee. Since then, this pioneer of an ethical roast has earned a loyal following. Come rain or shine, you can find its devotees patiently queued to get their daily fix at its original Monmouth Street store or opposite London's Borough market. The secret of its success? Staying true to its values - it works with single farms, estates and co-operatives to source the best coffee (while all the time investing in and understanding its providence ) and consistently delivering the best coffee in London. Try the Monmouth Expresso for a shot of toasted almonds or Fazenda Feijom for caramel sweetness and yellow cherry flavours. You can still sample their latest blends at Spa Terminus - home to its new roaster, before purchasing beans to take home.
Locations: Convent Garden 27 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9EU; The Borough 2 Park Street, London SE1 9AB (opposite London Borough Market); Spa Terminus, Arch 3 Spa North (Between Dockley Road and Spa Road), SE16 4RP
Subscription: Mail order is available
SQUARE MILE COFFEE ROASTER
In the heart of London is its square mile - a thriving epicentre of trade and commerce that started in London's coffee houses in the 1700s. So it is more than serendipitous that Square Mile Coffee Roasters has such a namesake. Founded by James Hoffman, a world barista champion, and Anette Moldvaet, world coffee cup tasting champion, Square Mile is an award winning roaster committed to making London famous for good coffee. Mainly a wholesale business, you can find them at London’s Borough Market during the week fueling London workers with their favourite brew. For an at home experience, order yours online. The current seasonal roast - Red Brick Express comes highly recommended with its sweet notes from a blend of La Bolsa, Bosques De San Francisco, and Gachenge AB.
Location: Go direct to their website - http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/
Subscription: 6 or 12 month subscriptions (bean only)
VOLCANO COFFEE WORKS
For a very local coffee on the south side of the Thames, head to this wholesaler roaster in the light industry estate of West Dulwich. Dedicated to producing small batch gourmet roasts, Volcano is the creation of life-long friends, Kurt and Olaf, inspired by the coffee culture of New Zealand as well as London’s own burgeoning scene. Suppliers to cafes such as Providores and Petersham Nurseries, it offers its own seasonal roasts. Try their Spring Expresso described as sweet and zesty made from Colombia Villa Esperanza and Brazil Fazenda Ouro Verde Yellow or if you can Summer Expresso, with its notes of pink grapefruit and cedar. Their café next door to the coffee works makes for a relaxed Saturday experience but if a trip this far south side is not your thing, order yours online.
Location: Unit F01, Parkhall Trading Estate, 40 Martell Rd, SE21 8EN Tel. 0208 670 8927
Subscription: You can receive Volcano’s seasonal blend in the post every two weeks (just enough for one or two coffees each day), or you can order online.
WORKSHOP COFFEE COMPANY
Newcomer Workshop Coffee launched onto the London coffee scene in 2011 with a promise to source, roast and serve the best coffee possible. It has been true to its word with an award-winning café in Clerkenwell and a small hole in the wall coffee bar in Marylebone. This year saw the opening its own online dispensary. Coffee is roasted to order (beans only) with subscriptions available of 6-12 months. Try the Cult of Done with its acclaimed taste of mandarins and berry acidity or Gichathaini filter coffee with is flavours of sweetened rhubarb and strawberry from the Gikanda Co-op. Also available is coffee hardware for the coffee enthusiast, such as the Aeropress for filter brewing, for those that like their coffee on the smooth side.
Locations: Clerkenwell, 27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RN, Tel: 0207 253 5754; Marylebone, 75 Wigmore Street, W1U 1QD, Tel: no phone
Awards: Runner Up Best Independent Cafe Europe (Allegra Symposium), Best Vegetarian Breakfast (Observer Food Monthly), 'a great day-time cafe, becoming a major point of interest' (TimeOut), 'Best Independent Cafe' at the 2012 Cafe Society Awards.
As one of London's famed Antipodean brat pack, Caravan has been making waves with its combined restaurant, bar and roastery since 2010. Started by four New Zealanders, Caravan lives up to its namesake with a well-traveled menu (think fusion), seasonal focus and a dining experience that is laid-back and relaxed. It's this combination of good food, chilled vibe, and great coffee that has made it such a popular stomping ground for Clerkenwell locals and devotees of Exmouth Market. Downstairs in the basement is the Caravan roastery. Beans are roasted daily for the café but also sold wholesale and to customers. Try their market blend, Caravan Expresso that combines coffee from Gisuma, Rwanda and Finca la Copalita, Mexico as well as one of its single origins such as Hope AA grown in southwest Tanzania. They recently opened a second store at Granary Square.
Location: 11-13 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD, Tel 020 7833 8115; King’s Cross Granary Building
1 Granary Square (off Goods Way), N1C 4AA Tel 020 7101 7661
Subscription: Online store is opening soon