The first Saturday Supplement of 2015 is another in the (now not so) occasional Meet the Roaster series. After the recent appearances by Leeds’ North Star and Manchester’s Ancoats, we now head north of the border to North Berwick and Steampunk Coffee. I wrote about Steampunk’s fantastic café/roastery, The Warehouse, towards the end of last year, but that was in its guise as a Coffee Spot. Today, I’m focusing on Steampunk in its role as a roaster, which is how I first came across it earlier in the year when I visited Edinburgh’s Machina Espresso.
The roasting side of Steampunk is firmly on display when you enter The Warehouse. Tucked away to the right (behind the Christmas tree when I visited) there’s a whole corner dedicated to Steampunk’s 12 kg Probat roaster, which is usually in action on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, should you wish to see it on the go. I, of course, was there on a Sunday…
Steampunk roasts a number of espresso blends, the main ones being the Tiger Strips and Velos blends, while there are around 10 single origins, of which four or so are being roasted/are available at any one time.
November 2015: I ran into the Steampunk guys at Cup North, and discovered that Steampunk now only roasts single-origins.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Steampunk started in the summer of 2012 when North Berwick resident, baker and café-manager, Catherine, began serving coffee out of VW camper vans around North Berwick and Edinburgh. Steampunk also started roasting in 2012 and the business grew quickly, to the point that The Warehouse, an old joinery workshop turned antiques store, was acquired the following summer. After extensive re-fitting, it opened as a roastery/café in March 2014.
Hailing from the US, Catherine travelled around the UK before settling in North Berwick. Steampunk was originally set up with then business partner, Hans, who undertook the roasting, although since then, Adam has taken over the roasting duties. Despite moving into permanent premises, the VW vans, with their lever espresso machines, are still going strong. One is currently on the road (you can see it at Stockbridge market every Sunday), with the second due to re-join it this summer. A third is waiting to make its debut.
Despite its expansion, setting up as a café and moving into food upstairs at The Warehouse, Steampunk still sees itself first and foremost as a speciality coffee roaster. I talked to Adam, who took over roasting duties at the end of last summer. Hailing from New Zealand, and joining Steampunk from Edinburgh’s Artisan Roast, he brings 10 years of antipodean coffee experience to the party. Steampunk roasts a little darker for espresso than a lot of third-wave roasters, something which I appreciate. While I love light-roasted single-origins for filter (and have had some stupendous light-roasted single-origin espressos), I still hanker after a slightly darker roast for espresso.
Steampunk has two standard espresso blends, both of which could easily have been designed specifically for me. The first one I tried was Tiger Stripes, which I had when I visited Machina Espresso. A mixture of Brazilian and Monsoon Malabar beans, it was smooth and full-bodied, with a great mouth-feel and no bitterness. It also goes really well with milk. I bought a bag to take home with me and even I was able to pull consistent shots with it!
While I was at Steampunk, I tried the Velos blend. Like the Tiger Stripes, it was smooth and dark, but not at all bitter. In fact, for a relatively dark roast, it was surprisingly sweet. At Adam’s suggestion, I also tried the Rocky II blend, more typical of a third-wave offering, consisting of Brazilian beans mixed with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Much sharper and brighter, it was, I must confess, less to my taste.
When it comes to roasting single-origin coffees, Adam doesn’t roast with a particular method in mind. Instead of roasting a specific bean for filter or another for espresso, he aims to get the best flavour profile out of each bean, an approach I’m increasingly coming across.
In its ethos, Steampunk is very much a local, artisan producer, forging links with other artisan producers in and around North Berwick. When it comes to coffee, obviously local (on the supply-side) goes out of the window, but the same principles apply, with a focus on ethical sourcing and on the origin of the beans. Catherine takes great pride in the fact that the roastery is part of the café, which means that the whole roasting process is on display, not something that is locked away in a warehouse somewhere.
|49A KIRK PORTS • NORTH BERWICK • EH39 4HL|
|www.steampunkcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 1620 893030|
|Monday||09:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Steampunk (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs, Counter, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter/Table (upstairs)|
|Friday||09:00 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||No||Visits||30th November 2014|
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