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.
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|
|www.littleredroaster.co.uk||+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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