Little Red Roaster

An espresso from Little Red Roaster in Poole, made with a single-origin coffee from the Doi Chaang community in Thailand and served in a classic white cup.Little Red Roaster in Parkstone, Poole, is not to be confused with Brighton’s Redroaster, although both possess a little red roaster. In the case of Poole’s Little Red Roaster, it’s a 3kg Toper which sits in semi-retirement in the far corner. These days it’s fired up once a week, although not long ago, this was a daily occurrence.

Little Red Roaster still roasts all its own coffee, the bulk of the roasting now done off-site by the owner’s son, Ben, using a 25 kg roaster. The various beans (up to eight) are for sale and can be tried as a pour-over for one, or a cafetiere for two. First thing in the morning, there’s also bulk-brew made with the coffee of the day (a Costa Rican during my visit). Finally, there’s the usual espresso offerings using Little Red Roaster’s speciality, a single-origin from Thailand.

If coffee’s not your thing, there’s tea and soft drinks, plus cake and a small food offering, freshly cooked in the little kitchen at the back. The options are mostly bagel-related, but there’s also a full English breakfast (plus veggie option) and specials, which are hidden on a chalk-board menu around the corner from the counter.

April 2016: I believe, from CoffeeGirlNeeds, that the eponymous little red roaster is no longer in the back of the store, replaced by extra seating.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Poole's Little Red Roaster: when I rule the world, I'm banning parking outside coffee shops!
  • Half of Little Red Roaster.
  • Nice sign; cool logo.
  • I think that the A-board sums it up nicely.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door.
  • There's a choice of seating: this lovely table in the window to the right of the door...
  • ... or this table with its cinema seats further back.
  • The cinema seats in more detail.
  • But what's the beyond the seating? Let's take a look...
  • It's not just the roastery, it's another seating area as well.
  • I particularly liked this chair just to the right past the archway.
  • These three tables and their bench seat were pretty good too.
  • Well, hello!
  • The Little Red Roaster itself, surrounded by sacks of green beans.
  • I like the picture of the coffee-bean volcano next to the roaster.
  • Talking of artwork, there are these pictures on the wall behind one of the tables.
  • The pictures in more detail.
  • There is also a small bulldog theme going on...
  • ... including this mournful fellow in the window.
  • However, down to business and Little Red Roaster's drinks menu.
  • There's the option of something from the espresso machine...
  • ... or something from the filter bar.
  • Or for those in a hurry in the mornings, there's the bulk-brew filter.
  • If you like the coffee, you can always buy some to take home with you.
  • Some of the coffee bagged up and ready to go.
  • There's also tea for those of that persuasion.
  • The tea is from Blendings in Poole by the way.
  • Cake!
  • More cake!
  • If you cannot live by cake alone, you can always have breakfast...
  • ... or something from the specials board, hidden around the corner.
  • I started off with a flat white...
  • ... and then followed it up with an espresso for comparison purposes.
  • Both were made with the house speciality, Doi Chaang from Thailand.
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On a street on a small, triangular park off the A35 between Bournemouth and Poole, you’ll find Little Red Roaster. It was independently recommended to me by some friends in Poole and by the guys at South Coast Roast and it has a real neighbourhood feel. There was a wide range of people there during my visit one Tuesday morning, most of whom felt like regulars to me.

It’s a small, bright spot, with floor-to-ceiling to windows at the front, the light supplemented by a smaller window at the back. It has a homely, eclectic feel, with wooden floorboards, and white painted walls and ceiling, plus a splash of red on the back wall.

The counter is to the left as you come in through the recessed door, with a small retail section at the front. Here you can buy all of Little Red Roaster’s with output, all single-origins, roasted in-house and all certified organic too. After the retail area comes the cake, till and, finally, the two-group La Marzocco espresso machine. There’s a bulk-brew filter machine against the wall behind the counter and, to your left, in the window, a small filter station.

The seating is opposite the counter, against the right-hand wall. It starts with a large table in the window, with a couple of well-cushioned bench seats and a pair of formal chairs. Next comes a small, round table with a cinema seat, followed by a larger, rectangular table, this time with three cinema seats.

There’s more seating through an archway beyond the counter. This is where Little Red Roaster keeps the Toper, surrounded by sacks of green coffee beans. There’s a two-person round table on the right, in front of the roaster, and three small, round tables on the left, running along a comfortable-looking padded bench.

I was torn, wanting to try the filter coffee, but I was also intrigued by the single-origin espresso from Thailand. Since I don’t have Thai coffee very often (in fact, I can’t actually remember having had Thai coffee before) I had a flat white to start my day. I found that it went very well with milk, but it got a little lost, and, keen to see what it was like on its own, I followed it up as a single-shot espresso. Here I felt it came into its own: a little fruity for my palette, it’s very well balanced and definitely worth trying on its own.

I chatted with the owner, Tom, about Little Red Roaster. It’s been going for five years and in many ways was ahead of the wave, the sort of place you’d have expected to find in London rather than down in Poole. Other than being a pioneer of the café/roaster model that’s still far more popular in the US than the UK, Little Red Roaster stands out for its links to  the Doi Chaang community in Thailand. The community runs lots of cafés in Thailand, while beans are also exported through a foundation in Canada which does distribution, ensuring that 50% of the profits are returned to the Doi Chang community in Thailand. Little Red Roaster started serving the Doi Chaang in the cafetiere and as a filter, but now uses it as the house espresso as well, where it has proved very popular.

18 STATION ROAD • POOLE • BH14 8UB +44 (0) 1202 240450
Monday 07:00 – 17:30 Roaster Little Red Roaster (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:30 Seating Tables, Benches
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake.
Thursday 07:00 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 17:30 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 28th April 2015

See what local coffee blogger, CoffeeGirlNeeds, made of Little Red Roaster.

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4 thoughts on “Little Red Roaster

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