CRAFT London is a new project by chef Stevie Parle and designer Tom Dixon. As the name suggests, it’s focused on the craft of making things. Located on the Greenwich Peninsular, a stone’s throw from both the O2 and North Greenwich tube station, it will ultimately be a café, restaurant and bar.
I visited it on Friday, five days after the café, occupying the ground floor, had opened, having been alerted to it by Robbie Calvert, who is café manager, head barista and (ultimately) roaster, all rolled into one. I had previously run into Robbie at Edinburgh’s Artisan Roast, where he’d impressed me with his passion (and his coffee).
I’d heard that he’d come down to London, so I was keen to find out what he was up to. As luck would have it, I was already going to the O2 that evening for a Caro Emerald concert, so snuck in just before closing time to catch up with Robbie and his new venture.
I have to say that I was impressed. Although CRAFT London had only been open for five days, it seemed to me to be a pretty decent operation with lots of exciting things in the pipeline!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
CRAFT London is all about making things. Founders, Stevie and Tom, are collaborating with modern craftspeople to create world-class processes for all sorts of things, including coffee roasting, baking, meat curing, bee keeping and kitchen gardening to name just a few. Housed in one half of a new circular structure, CRAFT London is literally building from the ground up with the café opening on the ground floor, to be followed by a restaurant and then bar on the next two floors, due to open early in 2015.
It’s early days, but Robbie was enthusiastic about the plans. For example, just the café is open at the moment, but in a room off to the side, in full view of passers-by, is a shiny new coffee roaster. Currently the coffee is from south London’s Alchemy, but once things are up and running, Robbie will be roasting all the coffee on-site, with green beans sourced from Alchemy. In keeping with the principles he developed in Edinburgh, Robbie will only be roasting and serving single-origins, with a strong emphasis on filter coffee.
This is just the start, with plans afoot for a kitchen garden just across the way, bee hives on the roof and a curing area for hams opposite the roaster. However, I’m getting ahead of myself.
CRAFT London Coffee is a lovely spot, occupying a curved space about 90 degrees around. The counter is on the inside, curving around the hub of building, with different stations for cold drinks, salad, cakes and coffee, followed by the tills. The tables are arrayed in two curved rows which fill the space between the counter and windows, which run, floor-to-ceiling, all the way around the building, making for an incredibly bright interior. Most of the café is on display behind the counter, (for example, the pizza oven, espresso machine and filter station), so you can watch the baristas (and chefs) at work.
The counter itself is a thing of beauty, covered in glazed brick tiles, with the floor also brick-tiled. Above it, the ceiling is coffee-shop industrial, all exposed conduits and bright steel. Although this is quite a contrast, it works very well. The tables are also amazing, with painted, glazed tops and some lovely, recycled old chairs. The temptation to cram too much in has been resisted and each of the two- or four- person tables are well spaced out.
CRAFT London is already baking all its own bread and has a wicked-looking pizza oven (sadly I was too late to sample the pizza). The coffee menu is refreshingly sparse, offering espresso as either black or white, with a filter option through the Aeropress, an (almost) obligatory Mahlkönig EK43 doing the grinding.
While I was there, a pair of single-origin Guatemalans were on, one on espresso, with a San Sebastian on filter. I matched this up with a cardamom bun, which was excellent. It had quite rich pastry, but was surprisingly dry (in a good way), with a strong taste of cardamom. This went surprisingly well with the coffee. I expected them to clash, but the Guatemalan is a pretty bold coffee (a more subtle coffee would have got lost). It had all the qualities I would hate in an espresso but which work really well in filter, particularly an Aeropress.
|PENINSULA SQUARE • GREENWICH PENINSULA • LONDON • SE10 0SQ|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at counter|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||08:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Sunday||08:00 – 17:00||Mobile||3G, Voice|
|Chain||No||Visits||17th October 2014|
Normally I recommend checking details with individual Coffee Spots before you go, but this is particularly the case for CRAFT London since it has only just opened and things are changing. For example, the Wifi isn’t there just yet and at the moment, it’s only until five o’clock (with plans to stay open later on an as-and-when basis as a pizzeria for major concerts at the O2) although it should, in the longer term, be open in the evenings.
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