Root Coffee

The words "Root Coffee" written in an arch in black capitals on white, tiled wall. "EST / 20 / 15" is written in red in a box below.On December 19th, 2015, Liverpool got an early Christmas present in the shape of Root Coffee. In speciality coffee shop terms, Root is huge, with a generous outdoor seating area, and a spacious, uncluttered interior. The fun doesn’t stop there, with much of the furniture made by the owner, Dennis, using recycled pallets (for the bench seating and coffee tables) and naturally-weathered, reclaimed wood from the docks (wall cladding, counter and table-tops).

The coffee, however, is anything but recycled, and this includes the equipment, which features a state-of-the-art three-group Black Eagle espresso machine and a Mythos 1 grinder, while there’s an EK-43 for filter and decaf. The coffee itself comes from a rotating cast of roasters, Dennis’ aim being to champion some of the less well-known roasters, raising their brand awareness in Liverpool.

While I was there, Root had gone all West Country, with Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters on espresso and Bath’s Round Hill Roastery on filter, with local roasters, Neighbourhood Coffee, providing the decaf. There’s a wide selection of loose-leaf teas, and, in a further West Country link, the cakes are from Bristol’s Cakesmiths. There’s also a toast-based menu for those who want something a little more savoury.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • At the bottom of the surprisingly-steeply sloping Seel Street, it's Liverpool's Root Coffee.
  • There's a large outdoor seating area on the pedestrianised street, fenced off by planters.
  • I'm surprised that there aren't more tables in there!
  • What is this place? A coffee pharmacy?
  • With bad puns?
  • Stepping inside reveals Root in all its glory. It's pretty big, with the counter deead ahead.
  • The view back towards the doors from the counter. Look at all that space!
  • To the left of the door is this neat, secluded lounge area...
  • ... while the majority of the seating is off to the right, well-separated from the door.
  • A view of the seating area, as seen from the counter.
  • The L-shaped seating unit, made of recycled pallets, gets things going.
  • There are a couple of tables in here and lots of padded bench seating.
  • The rest of the seating occupies the far corner, along the windows and the right-hand wall.
  • A long window-bar blocks off what would have been a second set of doors...
  • ... while more re-cycled pallets go to make up the bench seating against the wall.
  • I loved the light bulbs, so fierce they have to be kept in cages!
  • Another view.
  • These ones are kept in glass jars. Probably not as fierce.
  • I definitely have light-bulb envy.
  • How many light bulbs? Actually, it's just one. And lots of reflections.
  • The white-tiled walls in Root have been illustrated with line-drawings of coffee plants...
  • ... as well as the odd logo :-)
  • The helpful blackboard on the wall in the seating area explains what Root's all about.
  • There were lots of nice touches, such as this, a pot of unrefined cane sugar, on my table.
  • Anyway, back to the counter and down to business.
  • I like the layout at Root, by the way. Clear path from door to counter!
  • The counter itself is a wonderful, wooden affair, with lots of space.
  • There's a helpful menu on the wall behind the counter.
  • This must be the tea that it mentioned...
  • ... which is also on display out front.
  • Had I not come at five o'clock, there might have been more cake left...
  • Fortunately, there was still lots of coffee. And what a selection of roasters!
  • But what to have? Something from the (very shiny) Black Eagle espresso machine?
  • Or a filter maybe? Nice EK-43 by the way. I've seen some interesting modifications...
  • ... but this is a first: the hopper has been cut off with an angle-grinder!
  • I went for a coffee from Panama, roasted by Round Hill, prepared through the V60.
  • It was served properly, in a carafe, with a cup on the side, presented on a wooden tray.
  • I paired this with some very fine toast...
  • ... and followed it up with a decaf flat white from local boys, Neighbourhood Coffee.
  • Check out the latte art...
  • ... which held its pattern magnificently...
  • ... all the way to the bottom of the glass.
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Despite the address, which puts Root Coffee on Hanover Street, it is, in fact, located on the broad, pedestrianised western end of Seel Street. Much larger than near-neighbours Filter + Fox and Bold Street Coffee, Root even puts the relatively-spacious 92 Degrees Coffee in the shade. The sense of size continues with the high ceilings, further aided by a store front that is almost entirely floor-to-ceiling glass.

From the outside, Root is clearly two units, each with its own set of glass double doors. However, stepping inside through the left-hand set of doors, you’re greeted with one, unified interior. The sense of space is helped by its relatively uncluttered nature and open layout. Although clever use has been made of partitioning to divide Root into a number of distinct areas, you can still see from one end of the store to the other.

There’s a clear path from the doors to the counter, which faces you on the back wall of Root. Long and uncluttered, it runs nearly the full width of the store (and Root is about twice as wide as it is deep), with a small kitchen area to the right, screened off from the rest of the space. The seating is split into two areas, with a small, cosy lounge area to the left, consisting of two sofas, two armchairs and a coffee table made of old pallets.

However, the majority of the seating’s to the right, although to get there you have to go up to the counter and around, giving it a secluded feel. There’s an L-shaped, padded bench-seat with a couple of tables here, just to the right of the door, but facing into the seating area. A long window-bar blocks off the second set of doors, while, against the right-hand wall, there are more padded bench-seats. Finally, several tables occupy the space in the middle.

During my visit, Extract’s Cast Iron blend was on espresso, while the filter option was a Panamanian coffee from Round Hill, which I had through the V60. My coffee arrived in a carafe, cup on the side, all beautifully presented on a tray. Unusually, Root doesn’t pre-warm either the cup or the carafe, the idea being to quickly cool the coffee to drinking temperature, which, as Dennis explained to me, brings out the flavours (it’s the same principle as Japanese coffee being brewed over ice). While this approach might be heresy in some circles, all I can say is that it works. The first thing that I noticed was that my coffee was exactly at drinking temperature, allowing the subtle, delicate, fruity notes to come to the fore immediately, a process which only improved as it cooled.

I paired this with some toast, receiving a very generous four slices. This comes with a choice of two toppings, so I went for wild blackberry jam and, having failed to understand the (simple) instructions, I went for wild blackberry jam for my second choice too… Oh well, it was late on a Friday afternoon…

I followed this up with a flat white made using a decaf Colombian from Neighbourhood. This went very well in milk, more than holding its own, flavour-wise. The milk, meanwhile, was beautifully-steamed, holding the pattern of the latte art right to the bottom of the glass.

52 HANOVER STREET • LIVERPOOL • L1 4AF
www.facebook.com/rootcoffeeliv +44 (0) 7500 040011
Monday 08:00 – 19:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Sofas, Tables outside
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:00 Food Cake, Toast
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:30 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 6th May 2016

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Liverpool.


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