Coleman Coffee Roasters

A piccolo with a tulip latte art pattern in a glass on a glass saucer, seen from directly above.Not that long ago, London’s Waterloo Station was a bit of a desert for good coffee. There was the Scooter Café on Lower Marsh, plus Bean About Town’s van on the South Bank, but that was about it. However, three short years later, things have changed. Bean About Town’s been joined by Beany Green and, in the summer, the Look Mum No Hands! Pop-up. Meanwhile, on Lower Marsh, first Four Corners popped up across from the Scooter Café and now, a few doors down, there’s Coleman Coffee Roasters.

Run by Jack Coleman, who’s been roasting since 2010, the coffee shop appeared two months ago. Occupying what was, for a long time, a book shop, it’s not a huge spot, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. Oh, and it has a wonderfully-secluded garden at the back.

Coleman Coffee Roasters blends elements of old-school style with a third-wave lightness of touch. There are two single-origins through the V60 and a single espresso blend. In an interesting twist, this can be pulled one of two ways, either as an espresso or an “old-fashioned” espresso. Jack also dishes up Oaties (think savoury pancakes) with various fillings.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Coleman Coffee Roasters, a new addition behind Waterloo on London's Lower Marsh.
  • The A-board tells it how it is...
  • ... although the reverse side is intriguing. What's an Oatie?
  • On the outside, looking in.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door...
  • .. and another panorama, this time looking across from the corner at the back.
  • The front of Coleman Coffee Roasters, with seating to either side of the recessed door.
  • There's a neat little bar in the bay window to the right of the door...
  • ... while the bay window to the left is occupied by this table and benches.
  • There's more seating, this time on the left, in the shape of three tables.
  • Opposite that, there's another bar against the wall, above which are the retail shelves.
  • Bags and bags of coffee for you to buy and take away.
  • On the opposite side are two more retail shelves, with coffee kit and hand-made ceramics.
  • The flowers on the tables are a nice touch.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • So, to business. But wait! What's that down to the right of the counter/espresso machine?
  • Let's take a look, shall we?
  • What a lovely, secluded garden!
  • And who's this sitting at one of the tables? Why it's Mr Coleman himself! (Jack to his friends)
  • Never trust a roaster who doesn't drink his own coffee. Fortunately, no problems here.
  • He looks quite at home, doesn't he?
  • There's another table at the left-hand end of the garden.
  • The view looking down the garden. The yellow tarpaulin can be pulled out to provide cover.
  • It's a wonderfully green garden. This, I believe, is a flowering Jasmin tree...
  • ... while this, growing all the way to the roof of the building, is a Mulberry bush (tree).
  • Finally, to the right of the photo is, I believe, a pomegranate tree, which regularly bears fruit.
  • More greenery.
  • Time to go back inside.
  • To business. The counter's at the back, kitchen to the left, espresso machine to the right.
  • Meanwhile, the menu is chalked up on the board above the counter.
  • The drinks are to the left, while to the right, there are the mysterious Oaties.
  • Intrigued, I had to try them. You get two, with the filling of your choice. Think pancakes.
  • I followed those up with some coffee.
  • Here's Jack in his natural environment, behind the espresso machine.
  • I ordered an espresso (left) and an old-fashioned espresso (right).
  • The old-fashioned espresso is made with the same beans, but pulled very differently.
  • Finally, I wanted to try the espresso with milk.
  • Jack places the glass under the portfilter, hits the paddle and off we go!
  • The coffee starts appearing in dribs and drabs...
  • ... but quickly first one stream...
  • ... then another, form out of the bottomless portafilter.
  • Steady extraction.
  • I love watching coffee extract.
  • What's this though? A third stream?
  • Indeed it is!
  • All done. Look at the crema on that.
  • However, like all crema, it quickly dissipates.
  • Standing on the side, waiting for the milk, the ratio of coffee to crema is now reversed.
  • Latte artist at work.
  • Jack puts the finishing touches to the pattern.
  • And there we have it. The glass saucer is a nice touch.
  • So good it's worth the aerial view.
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You can see most of Coleman Coffee Roasters from the street, where two generous windows flank a recessed glass door, laying the seeds for a surprisingly pleasant interior. To start with, all that glass (supplemented by natural light from the back) means it’s very bright inside. The recessed door also creates, in effect, two bay windows. There’s a small, two-person window-bar to the right, ideal for people watching, while to the left, a table’s flanked by a pair of benches, creating a sort of window booth.

There’s more seating beyond this: three square two-person tables to the left and, to the right, a three-person bar, with retail shelves above, packed with bags of Coleman coffee. In all, it seats 15, if every seat is taken. At the back, the counter’s on the left, while to the right, a narrow corridor leads past the espresso machine to a wonderfully sheltered and secluded garden with high walls on three sides and the back of the (three storey) building on the fourth. The garden has two large, communal tables, but its best feature is the trees. To the right is a flowering Jasmin tree, while to the left, a fruiting pomegranate. Finally, growing all the way up the back wall of the building, is a wonderful old mulberry tree.

The garden furniture is all wooden, with seating provided by benches (against the garden’s back wall) and stools. If there’s rain about, a tarpaulin can be pulled out to cover the left-hand table. Inside, seating’s also provided by stools and benches, while the bars, table-tops and counter-top are all made of concrete slabs flecked with marble.

There are two unusual menu items. The first are Oaties, Staffordshire oat pancakes (although the batter contains some wheat flour so isn’t gluten-free), which are fried on a hot plate behind the counter. You get two, with a choice of five fillings (four savoury, one sweet). Naturally, I had to have them, plumping for Appleby’s Cheshire cheese and stewed tomatoes. My Oaties were lovely and light and very tasty, reminding me of galettes (buckwheat pancakes from Brittany).

Jack only roasts two single-origins (Brazil and Guatemala), both available as V60s. These are also blended in a 60/40 ratio for espresso, leading to the second unusual menu item. It’s not uncommon to serve an espresso for milk, with another blend/origin for black drinks. Jack uses the same for both, only he pulls them differently, using different group heads on his Synesso.

The first espresso, designed for milk, is very much in the third-wave style, 20g in, extracted at 92.4C. The second, called an “old-fashioned” espresso and designed to be drunk on its own, is rather different, 11g in, extracted at 88C. Despite the difference in input weights, the result is two very similar-sized espressos. I should know, because I, naturally, had to try them both.

I started with the old-fashioned espresso, a very smooth, drinkable espresso, right up my street. In contrast, the second was like a punch in the mouth: much sharper and fruiter. While not unpleasant, I definitely prefer the old-fashioned. It was, however, hard to believe that they were the same blend.

Intrigued, I tried the espresso (not the old-fashioned) in milk as a piccolo. This was simply wonderful, but once again very different. Given how punchy the espresso was, it was very smooth and beautifully-balanced, the fruity notes combining really well with the milk. Again, I wouldn’t have known it was the same coffee. Although a long way from the sweet flat whites I’m used to, like the old-fashioned espresso, I could drink it all day!

December 2016: Coleman Coffee Roasters has won the 2016 Best Espresso Award and was a runner-up for the 2016 Best Outdoor Seating Award.

20 LOWER MARSH • LONDON • SE1 7RJ
www.colemancoffee.com +44 (0) 20 3267 1139
Monday 08:00 – 15:00 Roaster Coleman (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 15:00 Seating Tables, Bars, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 15:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 15:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 15:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 15:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:30 – 15:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 3rd June 2016

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