Liverpool’s 92 Degrees isn’t just an ordinary (speciality) coffee shop. Instead it also happens to be a roaster as well, and what’s more, it’s one that roasts on-site, akin to Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Co. or Birmingham’s Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters. However, the uniqueness doesn’t stop there. Most roasters are usually set up by people with a strong background in coffee, whereas 92 Degrees is the brainchild of five friends from the software business, united by a love of coffee/coffee shops. What’s more, while most start small and grow with small steps, 92 Degrees went all in, roasting its own beans onsite from the outset.
92 Degrees, the coffee shop, has its own entry on the Coffee Spot. Today’s post, part of the occasional Meet the Roaster series, focuses on the roasting side of the business. As well as supplying the coffee shop, 92 Degrees has a growing retail customer-base, plus you can buy the beans, either in the store or on-line. 92 Degrees roasts a mix of blends for espresso and single-origin coffees for both espresso and filter. 92 Degrees has also been a champion of good decaf from the outset, always having a single-origin decaf on espresso.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
92 Degrees opened towards the end of 2014, becoming Liverpool’s first combined coffee shop/micro roastery in the process. Most coffee shop/roasters I know have the roaster tucked away: Glasgow’s Avenue Coffee Roasting Co, for example, has its roaster on a mezzanine level overlooking the coffee shop, while Quarter Horse has a second counter for the roaster on the other side of the coffee shop. In this respect, 92 Degrees has more in common with Ancoats Coffee Co., where, in both cases, the roaster’s behind the counter. However, there’s a lot less space at 92 Degrees, the 2.5 kg Diedrich tucked away in a small kitchen.
It’s a curious arrangement, but it works well for the space, the roaster clearly on display when you’re ordering your coffee. However, there’s not much room for expansion and I can’t imagine it’s very comfortable back there with a full roast in progress. For that reason, roasting tends to occur outside shop hours. In similar coffee shop/roasters, such as Glasgow’s Papercup Coffee Company or Poole’s Little Red Roaster, the roaster has moved out to a dedicated facility as demand has grown. How long before 92 Degrees follows suit, I wonder?
92 Degrees was started by a group of five like-minded colleagues in the software industry, John Keefe, Jack Brewitt, Andy Cooper, Heidi Duff and Chris Barker. The main impetuous came from John, who had been inspired by the coffee scenes he experienced around the world, including San Francisco, Tokyo, Copenhagen and London. However, other than knowing that they liked coffee, the five intrepid coffee entrepreneurs are happy to confess that knew very little about the business when they started!
Since then, they’ve brought in chef Danny Marfany, to handle the food-side of the business, while these days the roasting is done by Rob Leigh, author of From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe, and old friend of the Coffee Spot. I did ask why they jumped in at the deep end, rather than just opening a coffee shop and using an established roaster. The answer was two-fold: on the one hand, from a purely business perspective, it makes more sense to roast your own coffee; on the other hand, it’s much more fun this way! I got the distinct impression that the fun aspect might have had a lot to do with it!
However, it was a steep learning curve. As Danny confessed, they might have bitten off slightly more than they could chew, but they decided that the best approach was to keep on chewing! Or, as Rob put it, keep learning, keep improving, a philosophy that holds to this day. The other nugget of wisdom I picked up was not to over-think things: if people like what you’re roasting, then you’re doing it right…
Initially 92 Degrees only roasted single-origins, with a couple roasted for espresso, joined by a decaf. These days, 92 Degrees is experimenting with blends, although it still offers a single-origin espresso as well. There are also a number of single-origins roasted for filter, all of which are available in-house through the V60, with a couple on offer for retail.
Naturally I couldn’t leave without trying something, so I had the decaf espresso. This was really punchy, surprisingly fruity, and very impressive, proving (once again) that you can roast interesting decaf beans.
January 2020: the roastery has moved from behind the counter at Hardman Street into a dedicated roastery/office in the same building, while the roaster itself has been upgraded to a 6 kg Giesen.
Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Liverpool.
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