Redroaster is something of a Brighton legend, first opening its doors on Saint James’s Street almost 15 years ago. Back then it was something of a pioneer, a café-cum-roaster, producing all its own beans on a small, red roaster which gives the coffee shop its name. The roaster is still there, in pride of place behind the counter, but ever since Redroaster opened a dedicated roastery in Kemp Town to supply its growing wholesale business, it’s been semi-retired. These days it’s only in use as a sample roaster, or when the big one in Kemp Town is broken!
If I said Redroaster didn’t look like a modern, speciality coffee shop, I don’t mean that in a bad way. It feels like a throw-back, the sort of café I would have rejoiced in finding even 10 years ago, which shows how far tastes/trends have evolved in the coffee business. It’s also testament to the fact that Redroaster has been doing its thing for a quite a while now, long before most of the current wave of roasters discovered speciality coffee. The simple fact is that Redroaster has been roasting and serving single origin coffee long before it became fashionable.
September 2017: Redroaster has had a complete overhaul/refit and now looks a totally different coffee shop! Expect an update whenever I can get myself back to Brighton.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Redroaster occupies a bright, airy space on Brighton’s Saint James’s Street. The layout is a very simple, just a large, rectangular space running back from the street. There’s a generous supply of outdoor tables in a relatively sheltered spot in front of the windows on the right-hand side (these, by the way, can be opened in the warmer weather), while large, wooden double-doors give access on the left-hand side. These are normally kept open, leading you into a short, glass corridor with another door at the end, where you enter Redroaster proper.
To your right as you come in, three very comfortable-looking sofas form an n-shape, facing the windows, while the rest of the seating is in the form of three rows of round tables running lengthwise along the store. The first row is the shortest, up against the left-hand wall, where it gives out about halfway along when it meets the curved counter. The second row runs up the middle of Redroaster, stopping about two-thirds of the way along, opposite the ordering point of the counter, while the third row, along the right-hand wall, goes all the way to the back.
There’s a gap between the first and second rows, which funnels you straight from the door to the counter. This is an interesting, curved affair, starting halfway down on the left with the cake cabinet. It slowly edges its way out towards the centre of the room (although it never quite gets there), at which point you can place your order (and, in another old-school move, wait for your coffee), before finishing the curve with a pair of bulky Rocket espresso machines and three grinders.
The décor is fairly simple too. Warm, yellow walls combine with generous windows at the front and two rows of large skylights running lengthwise along the store, which flood it with light. The gentle jazz playing in the background perfectly complimented the mood of the place on the morning I was there.
Interestingly, Redroaster has angled mirrors on the walls above the counter, which allow you to watch the baristas at work (if you sit opposite the counter, of course). I first saw this in La Bottega Milanese, in Bond Court in Leeds, although it’s a feature that La Bottega’s owner, Alex, told me was common in Milan. And, it seems, Brighton.
Redroaster is still roasting its own beans, all of which are on sale. While I was there, eight single-origins were on offer, all of which could be had as a cafetiere, along with house, organic and decaffeinated espresso blends (all on offer through the espresso machine). I was there first thing in the morning and since cafetieres in coffee shops are still rare, I quite fancied one to start my day. However, I’ve never felt that the cafetiere best showcases the more subtle flavours of singe-origins, so I selected the house-blend and was rewarded with a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee. I noted that I was offered neither milk nor sugar with my cafetiere, nor was there sugar on the tables (all bonus points in my book), although I’m sure if I’d asked, I could have had them.
|1D SAINT JAMES’S STREET • BRIGHTON • BN2 1RE|
|www.redroaster.co.uk||+44 (0) 1273 686668|
|Monday||07:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Redroaster (espresso + cafetiere)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 19:00||Seating||Sofas, Tables, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 19:00||Food||Cake, Lunch|
|Thursday||07:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 19:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Saturday||07:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Yes|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:30||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||31st March 2015|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Brighton and Hove’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.
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