Coffee@33 Update

An espresso shot extracting on the Mavam modular espresso system at Brighton's Coffee @33.Coffee@33 is one of Brighton’s hidden gems, a stone’s throw away from the station at No. 33, Trafalgar Street. I was originally put onto it Horsham Coffee Roaster back in 2013, not long after Coffee@33 had started using Horsham as a second roaster alongside Monmouth. Back then, Coffee@33 was so under the radar that it didn’t even have its name outside, but despite that potential drawback, it already had a fiercely loyal following.

Fast-forward five years and a rare excursion to Brighton, I finally managed to revisit Coffee@33, where I ran into Taras, who, along with his business partner, owns Coffee@33. In many ways, little had changed, with the coffee shop being instantly recognisable from my visit of five years ago. On the other hand, quite a lot has changed. There’s new equipment behind the counter, in the shape of a cutting-edge Mavam modular espresso system. Perhaps more importantly, Coffee@33 now roasts all its own coffee and has recently moved to using a new, modern Loring coffee roaster.

You can see what I made of it all after the gallery.

  • Coffee@33,  looking very nondescript in 2013, sadly still the only external shot I have.
  • The view from just inside the door on the dark December night of my return in 2018.
  • There's a long bench in the window left of the door, still covered with coffee sacks...
  • ... much as it was in 2013, although the coffee table and stools have had an upgrade!
  • The bars against the right-hand wall are still there, this one towards the front...
  • ... and this one at the back.
  • Once again, the actual furniture has been upgraded since 2013!
  • The counter is still there at the back on the left, while the back door on the right...
  • ... leads to a little garden. Sadly I didn't check it out this time since it was dark.
  • This is the counter in 2018...
  • ... and this is pretty much the same shot from 2013.
  • The view of the counter from the back of Coffee@33 in 2013.
  • From 2013: first come the sandwiches...
  • ... then the pastries...
  • ... then the cakes!
  • And from 2018: first come the sandwiches...
  • ... then the cakes...
  • ... then the pastries.
  • The whole ensemble in 2018.
  • The coffee menu as it was in 2013...
  • ... and as it is now. Much the same in content, although upgraded in style.
  • One big change is that the bags of coffee now say 'Coffee @33' on them.
  • Another big change is the espresso machine which was at the end of the counter...
  • ... and which is now gone, replaced by the group heads of a Mavam modular unit.
  • The grinders have been upgraded to, a Mythos One and EK43 now doing all the work.
  • I really like the Mavam, which makes watching espresso extract that much simpler!
  • The final change is the pour-over set up, which was tucked away by the till in 2013...
  • ... with these Melitta-style V-shaped fitlers.
  • Now Coffee @33 uses these Kinto V70 drippers...
  • ... which now take pride of place, next to the hot water tap, on the counter.
  • I decided to have pour-over, my coffee served in a carafe, cup on the side.
  • My coffee in the cup...
  • ... and here on its own.
  • I'll leave you wth my toasted bree, tomato and spinach wholemeal baguette. Delicious!
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In one way, nothing has changed at Coffee@33 in the five years since my previous visit. Sadly, it was dark when I got there, so I can’t tell you if there’s a sign outside, but otherwise, the interior is remarkably similar. The counter is still on the left-hand side, with space in the window for a long bench, covered in coffee sacks. Over on the right-hand wall, the two narrow counters remain, while the door at the back still leads to the garden.

The furniture, however, has changed, the coffee table by the window becoming longer and thinner, and the stand-alone wooden bars becoming more substantial affairs, attached to the wall with brackets. Meanwhile, the grey plastic stools with square tops have become black plastic stools with round tops.

The biggest change is the counter, which, while retaining the same basic layout, underwent a make-over in June 2018. The cakes and sandwiches still come first, but the large La Marzocco Linea espresso machine at the far end has gone, replaced by the angular black lines of twin group heads belonging to a Mavam modular espresso system, the bulky boiler and pumps relegated to beneath the counter. A more subtle change has occurred with the pour-over, where Kinto V70 drippers have replaced the Melitta-style filters of five years ago.

In the words of Taras, you can think of the shop as Coffee@33 version 2.0. It’s the same as version 1.0, just upgraded.

The really big change, however, came in 2015 when Coffee@33 bought a small hot-air roaster for the shop. However, it was soon outpaced by demand, so Taras moved to a dedicated roastery with a larger, more conventional gas-fired roaster. However, by the end of 2018, even that had been outgrown, so 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, this time on a high-capacity, efficient machine.

Coffee@33 has a simple Brazilian/Nicaraguan espresso blend, accompanied by several single-origins which Taras selects for their contrasting flavours compared to the blend, although he is very enamoured with African coffees. All this is served from a simple espresso menu, where the blend is joined by a single-origin (an Ethiopian during my visit), with another (Kenyan) on pour-over.

I’d been drinking espresso all day and while tempted by the Ethiopian, I opted for the Kenyan pour-over, served in carafe with a cup on the side. It 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. I paired this with a Brie, tomato and spinach wholemeal baguette, served toasted, with the Brie melting out of the sides, a very tasty end to an excellent day.

There’s a full write-up of Coffee@33, including a complete gallery, in its main entry. You can also see what I made of it in my original write-up, from September 2013.

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

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Brighton’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.

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