Today’s Saturday Supplement is another in the occasional Meet the Roaster series. Continuing with the Glasgow/Commonwealth Games theme, we’re at Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee, roasting high-quality coffee in the heart of the city since 2011. Dear Green roasts two main espresso blends, Goosedubbs and Treron (a seasonal blend), various bespoke blends and 16 single-origin beans. These are mostly for filter, which forms an ever-increasing percentage of Dear Green’s growing output.
I first discovered Dear Green Coffee when I visited the much-missed Razzo Coffee in Edinburgh. I met Dear Green’s founder and head roaster, Lisa Lawson, at the London Coffee Festival in 2013, when, against all the odds, she persuaded me to try her take on the traditional Italian caffè corretto. This was a single shot of the Treron blend, taken with a drop of whisky and honey. To my even greater surprise, I really liked it! Given that I can’t stand whisky and hate having sugar in my coffee, it’s high praise indeed!
I met up with Lisa again at this year’s London Coffee Festival, when we arranged for me to visit the Dear Green roastery as part of my trip to Glasgow on behalf of Caffeine Magazine.
Halfway between Dorchester and Exeter, the Dorset seaside town of Lyme Regis is not somewhere you would stumble upon by accident (the A35, the main Dorchester-to-Exeter road, runs a few miles inland, requiring a very deliberate detour to reach Lyme Regis). With a permanent population of less than 4,000 people, it’s not somewhere you’d expect to find one of the country’s best speciality coffee shops either, but tucked away halfway up a hill on Silver Street, there’s the wonderful Amid Giants & Idols.
A warm, friendly place, run by the lovely Xanne, stepping into Amid Giants & Idols is a bit like popping round to her place for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, where she entertains you in her (slightly) over-sized sitting room. It really is that cosy and informal. If that’s all there was to Amid Giants & Idols, then it would be a pretty special place, but add to that some wonderful coffee, as good as you’ll find, and you’re onto a real winner. That it’s all roasted (with passion, as it says on the A-board outside) on a vintage Swadlo roaster in a shed at the back of shop, is an unexpected bonus.
I first discovered Gasoline Alley in 2013, when I visited the original branch on Lafayette Street. This, the second branch, which opened in 2014, is just around the corner from one of my regular breakfast spots, the Landmark Coffee Shop (a very typical American diner). The original Gasoline Alley could actually be an alley and, while the same is true of this one with doors at either end, it’s more corridor than alley. Considerably smaller than the original, there’s space for two bar chairs at its solitary window-bar, with a pair of benches outside, one for each window.
I much prefer the atmosphere in this Gasoline Alley. However, where it wins hands down, just like the original, is that it serves Intelligentsia coffee and serves it extremely well. In fact, it might have served me the best shot of Intelligentsia’s seasonal Black Cat espresso blend that I’ve ever had!
I discovered Espresso Kitchen while in Bournemouth researching my feature on Dorset in Caffeine Magazine, Issue 15. It came highly recommended, by the folks at South Coast Roast no less, so I decided I really ought to pop over. In an area known as The Triangle, Espresso Kitchen’s just a few minutes’ walk from Richmond Hill/South Coast Roast. It’s a tiny place, seating nine at a push, and feels even fuller and busier, with all available surfaces covered with decoration of every conceivable type. A complete contrast, for example, to Monday’s Coffee Spot, the similarly-sized, but incredibly minimalist BLK Coffee.
Unlike BLK, which is less than three weeks old, Espresso Kitchen is approaching its third birthday. Owner and head-barista Fran is Italian. In setting up Espresso Kitchen, she wanted to recreate the traditional Italian espresso-bar atmosphere of her homeland, the sort of friendly, chatty place where everyone knows (almost) everyone else.
However, when it comes to the coffee itself, Fran parts ways with her compatriots. She’s no fan of the darkly roasted, bitter, robusta-inspired stereotype of Italian espresso. Instead, she turned to local roaster, Beanpress Coffee Co, who supplies the house-blend, and, along with various guests, a second espresso too.
Flat Caps Coffee, brainchild of the lovely Joe Meagher, is not only one of my favourite coffee shops in Newcastle, but it’s one of my favourites in the whole country. The only problem is that I don’t get to Newcastle very often… However, whenever I’m in town, I make a point of popping in to say hello.
I first wrote about Joe and Flat Caps in April 2013, writing a longer piece after I visited in October that year for Caffeine Magazine. So, what’s changed since then? Well, honestly, not a lot. Joe’s still Joe, Flat Caps is still Flat Caps and the coffee’s still excellent.
However, since I published my Coffee Spot on Flat Caps, Joe has, in the way that coffee shop owners do, redecorated and also started using single-serve Kalita Wave pour-over filters. And every time he sees me, he nags me that the photos on the Coffee Spot are out-of-date…
Normally, when visiting a Coffee Spot, I do so unannounced, sneaking quietly in, ordering my coffee and sitting by myself, getting a feel for the place. I do this for a number of reasons, one of which is so that I can sneak quietly out again if I don’t like it (rare, but it occasionally happens). My main reason, however, is so my experience is as much as possible that of the average customer who’d just walked in off the street.
With BLK Coffee in Heaton, Newcastle, I knew that this wasn’t going to happen. I’ve known Alison, BLK’s owner/head-barista/chief bottle-washer (delete as appropriate), for a couple of years. What’s more, she’d invited me to BLK’s launch party, which was on the evening of my visit. What that in mind, read on…
BLK’s a multi-roaster, its mainstay Workshop joined by a host of regularly-rotating guests, including, in the opening weeks, Bath’s Round Hill Roastery and Berlin’s Five Elephant Coffee. There are two options on espresso and on filter a choice of three single-origin beans through any of four preparation methods: Chemex, V60, Kalita Wave and Aeropress. Finally, there’s tea from Waterloo Tea, Kokoa Collection hot chocolate and plenty of cake.
Typical. You wait ages for one Meet the Roaster, then two come along at once. Not only that, but they’re both American! Hot on the heels of last Saturday’s feature on the Brooklyn Roasting Company, comes the subject of today’s Meet the Roaster, Portland’s Tandem Coffee Roasters.
I first came across Tandem when I was in Boston, where I enjoyed a cappuccino at Boston’s Render Coffee made using Tandem’s seasonal Time and Temp espresso-blend. I also met with Larry, owner of Boston’s Pavement Coffeehouse chain, who sang the praises of Tandem’s co-founder and chief roaster, Will (an ex-Pavement employee). That pretty much sealed it for me, and when, a few days later, I popped up the New England coast to Portland to start my coast-to-coast, Portland-to-Portland train trip, I naturally sought out Tandem’s roastery.
What I found wasn’t just a thriving coffee roaster, but a cracking, friendly coffee bar too. Coffee bar aside, which has already featured as a Coffee Spot in its own right, today’s Saturday Supplement is focusing on the roastery side of the business, which centres around Tandem’s 12kg Probat roaster, housed in a separate wing of Tandem’s single-storey, L-shaped building on Anderson Street.
For once, I’ve done a chain in the correct order, having first visited the original Tamper Coffee on Westfield Terrace in Sheffield before venturing down the following day to Sellers Wheel on Arundel Street for breakfast. The contrast between the two in terms of size and scope could hardly be greater; Westfield Terrace is a small, cosy, neighbourhood coffee shop, while Sellers Wheel is much larger, with a strong focus on food, although still retaining Westfield Terrace’s intimacy and emphasis on great coffee.
For those who’ve visited Ozone’s roastery/café in London will be familiar with the concept. Meanwhile if you’ve been to Caravan King’s Cross, there’s a certain similarity in look and feel, although Sellers Wheel is much smaller; you could probably fit four of it into Caravan (eight if you stacked them vertically as well).
In some ways, Sellers Wheel (like Caravan) is two-shops-in-one. You enter into a small area, best described as a coffee lounge, and, if you just want coffee, you could always stay here since it makes a great option by itself. Sellers Wheel proper, though, which is where all the food is, is at the back, through a doorway to the left of the counter.
Marmadukes Café and Deli is tucked away opposite Sheffield’s Catholic Cathedral on Norfolk Row, a lovely, quiet street that makes sitting out in the sun almost compulsory. However, to do so would miss out on an even lovelier interior. Occupying all three floors of a rambling, old house, Marmadukes is a cosy, friendly spot that has something for everyone, each of its five distinct spaces offering something unique. Beware of the maze-like interior though; I went the wrong way at least three times!
The coffee’s pretty good too, with head-barista Alex determined to keep Marmadukes up there with the best in Sheffield and beyond. The mainstay is London’s Workshop, the Cult of Done seasonal espresso front-and-centre on Marmadukes’ new La Marzocco Linear PB. Recent investment in an EK-43 grinder has allowed Marmadukes’ guest roaster, which changes every month, to now be offered on both espresso and filter. During August, it’s Finchley’s Campbell & Syme. Before that it was local roaster, Worksop’s Sundlaug Coffee Co..
However, it’s not just the coffee. Marmadukes has always had excellent food, as good as anywhere in Sheffield, with dedicated breakfast, all-day brunch and lunch menus, plus a stupendous range of cakes, including the house-speciality, cheesecake.
The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster is the Brooklyn Roasting Company. Tucked away on Jay Street, under the Manhattan Bridge, it was a highlight of my visit to Brooklyn back in March. Occupying the ground floor of a sprawling five-storey building, it’s an amazing place, which, as well as being a wonderful coffee shop, is also the Brooklyn Roasting Company’s headquarters, with all the roasting taking place on-site.
So, as well as popping in for a great cup of coffee, you can also sit in the far corner watching the green beans being hoovered into the 35kg Loring roaster and enjoying the spectacle of freshly-roasted beans pouring out some 12 minutes later. Don’t worry about when to come if you want to catch the roaster in action; it’s pretty much a nonstop, all-day operation!
Although the Brooklyn Roasting Company is a very modern affair, the building on Jay Street is steeped in coffee history. It used to be the stables of the famous Arbuckles’ coffee roastery, which was situated across Jay Street, the horses being used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to haul the sacks of green beans from the ships docked at the nearby waterfront.
Something very special is happening out in Beeston, just west of Nottingham. No, I don’t mean the new tram line, although that should be welcomed, particularly since it’ll be easier for visitors to get out to today’s Coffee Spot. Instead I’m referring to the Greenhood Coffee House, which opened at the start of July.
Much of Nottingham’s speciality coffee scene can trace its roots back to The Bean, a Beeston fixture of some renown just around the corner from Greenhood. In this respect, Greenhood’s no different, owner Rory having worked there for several years. However, Rory’s now struck out on his own, opening Greenhood, a speciality coffee shop which is proving as popular with the locals as it is with the connoisseur.
On espresso, there’s a bespoke house-blend from Has Bean on one grinder, while local roasters, Outpost Coffee Roasters, is a permanent fixture on another. There’s even a third dedicated grinder for decaf. These are joined by three filter options, available through Chemex, V60 or Aeropress. Here Has Bean is joined by local roasters such as Sundlaug Coffee Co. and some from further afield, including Berlin’s Five Elephant and Philadelphia’s ReAnimator! Loose-leaf tea is from Waterloo Tea amongst others.