An espresso shot extracting on the Mavam modular espresso system at Brighton's Coffee @33.I was originally put onto Coffee@33 by Horsham Coffee Roaster in 2013, which is when I first visited, Back then, Coffee@33 used legendary London roasters, Monmouth, along with the more local Horsham Coffee Roaster. Since 2015, however, Coffee@33 has roasted its own beans, first using a small hot-air roaster in the shop, then a more conventional gas-fired roaster in a dedicated facility. At the end of 2018, Coffee@33 returned to its original partnership with Horsham Coffee, roasting on Horsham’s new Loring roaster. Not only has this meant renewing ties with Horsham, but it signifies a return to air-roasting on a high-capacity, efficient machine.

Coffee@33 serves a Brazilian/Nicaraguan espresso blend, accompanied by several single-origins. One is available on espresso, providing a contrast to the blend, while the others are available as pour-over using the Kinto dripper. As well as the unusual choice of filter method, Coffee@33 is a trend-setter when it comes to espresso, being one a handful of UK shops to use the Mavam modular espresso system. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of sandwiches, which can be toasted, and a wide selection of cakes and pastries to choose from, all baked on-site.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Coffee@33,  looking very nondescript from the street.
  • The view from just inside the door is very appealing, with Chris & Tom behind the counter.
  • The best seats in the house. I had to wait ages to get this shot!
  • One of the two bars opposite the counter.
  • The door at the back leads to a little garden.
  • The view from the back of Coffee@33.
  • The counter was groaning under the weight of the sandwiches and cakes...
  • First come the sandwiches...
  • ... then the pastries...
  • ... then the cakes!
  • The coffee menu, although extensive, is also simple.
  • The filter menu is even simpler!
  • The espresso machine, with three grinders: Monmouth, Horsham & (Horsham) Decaf.
  • Not sure what's going on here... Could they be fighting over who makes my coffee?
  • Talk about crema. Look at that!
  • You've got to be quick with the camera though. This is a few seconds later.
  • And this is what it looked like when I got back to the bar to drink it!
  • My blueberry, lemon curd and coconut slice.
  • I also got a chance to watch an expert at work. Latte art: the prep (1/5)
  • Latte art: the pour (2/5)
  • Latte art: the pattern (3/5)
  • Latte art: the finishing touches (4/5)
  • Latte art: the final flourish (5/5)
  • The finished article, a real work of art.
  • Sign of a really good latte: the pattern holds even as the coffee is drunk.
  • Next up: a pour-over (for another customer). Step 1/8, weighing the beans
  • Step 2/8, preparing the filter paper.
  • Step 3/8, setting the glass.
  • Step 4/8, rinsing the filter paper.
  • Step 5/8, wetting the grounds (I missed them putting the grounds in!)
  • Step 6/8, the main pour.
  • Step 7/8, almost done.
  • Step 8/8, wait for the coffee to brew.
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A stone’s throw from the station (take an immediate right, double-back on yourself and head under the bridge), Coffee@33 is fairly unassuming from the street (I walked right past it on my first visit). My immediate reaction on stepping inside on that first visit in 2013 was that it was a pop-up. However, nothing could be further from the truth since Coffee@33 was one of the forerunners of Brighton’s continued speciality coffee boom, having first opened in 2008, so at that point is was five years old.

Not a lot has changed since then, although the furniture has undergone an upgrade since my first visit, giving it a more permanent feel. It’s not a big place, running back from a large window at the front, where there’s a low, padded bench, a long coffee table and a row of low stools. Two narrow bars project from the right-hand wall, seating provided by tall, round-topped stools, while the counter occupies the bulk of the left-hand side. At the back, a door leads to a small outdoor seating area which in turn gives access to the kitchen, where all the baking takes place. Sadly, I’ve only visited when it’s either been raining or dark, so I’ve never sampled the delights of the garden.

Coffee@33 feels like an old shop, with whitewashed walls and bare floorboards. There are white tiles at the back, while wood abounds, including much of the seating and the counter. It has that stripped-back look that is now so on-trend in many modern coffee shops, only with Coffee@33 you have the feeling that this is just how it is. There’s no music, no art on the walls, nothing, in fact, to distract from the coffee itself, which is what Coffee@33 is all about.

It all adds up to a very fine space, which I quickly fell in love with. It’s not necessarily a place to linger for too long, although if you can get a seat by the window, you could probably stay all day. During my first visit, there was a fair mix of customers, with a steady stream of people popping in for a takeaway and a good few more taking the chance to sit down and enjoy their coffee.

On that first visit, way back in 2013, I started off with the then house blend from Horsham Coffee Roaster, pulled short and served in a glass. The beans were very fresh that day, resulting in a really impressive crema. It was excellent, and while a little too bright for my palate back then, I suspect I’d rather enjoy it now. I paired that with the blueberry, lemon curd and coconut slice. While this had a little too much coconut for me, it was nonetheless very fine, with the blueberries coming through good and strong.

I didn’t get a chance to sample Coffee@33’s own roasting until I returned in December 2018, when I decided to try the pour-over, where a rather fine Kenyan was on offer. Served in carafe with a cup on the side, this was a lovely, smooth, subtle coffee with plenty of fruity notes, but not the punchy juiciness (which can be overwhelming at times) that you get with some Kenyans. This time I went savoury, pairing my coffee with a Brie, tomato and spinach wholemeal baguette. Served toasted, with the Brie melting out of the sides, it was a very tasty end to an excellent day.

April 2019: this is an updated version of my original post which was published in November 2013. You can see what has changed in my Coffee Spot Update.

33 TRAFALGAR STREET • BRIGHTON • BN1 4BP +44 (0) 1273 004117
Monday 07:30 – 18:00 Roaster Coffee@33 (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 18:00 Seating Bars, Table
Wednesday 07:30 – 18:00 Food Sandwiches, Cakes
Thursday 07:30 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 18:00 Cards TBC
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits Original: 6th September 2013
Update: 12th December 2018

To read more about Coffee@33, check out this in-depth interview with owner, Taras, who tells his life story to Beyond Work.

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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