Welcome to what has turned into a very rare occurrence: a new Meet the Roaster feature! This is just the second of the year after Peixoto Coffee Roasters, which came out in February. Mind you, that’s an improvement on last year, when I managed just one! The focus of today’s Meet the Roaster is Walthamstow’s Wood St Coffee, which started off six years as a Sunday pop-up in Wood Street Market, run by Gareth with the support of his girlfriend, Claire. Fast-forward six years, and Wood St has gone from a one-man, once-a-week operation to a thriving coffee shop and now roastery, employing multiple staff, a real success story and a testament to the hard work of Gareth, Claire and all their staff.
Although the roastery’s output is primarily to support the coffee shop, Wood St has a growing wholesale market, as well selling direct to the consumer. You can buy 250g bags of Wood St’s coffee in the coffee shop itself, or on-line on Wood St’s website. These days, all the coffee is roasted on-site using a 5 kg Probat in a container outside Wood St’s home in the Blackhorse Workshop, although, as we’ll see, that’s a fairly recent development.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I’ve known of Wood St Coffee since its days as a Sunday pop-up in Wood Street Market. Although I never managed to visit its original home, I did catch up with Gareth at Wood St’s second incarnation on Orford Road. Since then, I’ve followed Wood St’s growth and development, first with its move to its current home, a dedicated coffee shop in Blackhorse Workshop, and now its journey into roasting. It’s a great example of how to organically grow a business through hard work and dedication.
Wood St began roasting in April 2018, initially slot roasting at The Tate. For those not in the know, slot roasting is when an existing roaster, in this case the coffee programme at Tate Britain (yes, that’s right, a speciality coffee roaster at a major national art gallery!), offers slots on its roaster. It’s a win-win for both parties: for an established roaster, it’s a way to generate revenue from under-used equipment (most roasters are only used for a few days in the week, standing idle the rest of the time), while for the new roaster, it’s an opportunity to start production without the capital outlay (and risk) of buying a coffee roaster.
However, the natural progression from slot roasting is to have your own roaster (although I do know of some successful coffee shop/roasters who have been slot roasting for years and are very happy with the arrangement). Earlier this year, almost exactly 12 months after starting slot roasting at The Tate, things came together for Wood St, which was able to purchase a second-hand 5 kg Probat roaster. Around the same time, Blackhorse Workshop, which had a spare container, offered it to Wood St for use as a roastery. Naturally, the offer was accepted.
You can find the roastery tucked away to left of the car park in front of Wood St Coffee. Sadly it’s only open by appointment (or if you run into Tim, Wood St’s head roaster, who then offers you a tour), but you if want to know what it looks like, take a peek at the gallery.
Wood St is currently roasting a seasonal single-origin espresso, a decaf and a small selection of single-origin filters, all of which you can try in the shop, although you will have to become a regular for a week or two, the baristas choosing which of the single-origins to put on batch-brew each morning. If you can’t wait that long, you can always buy a bag of each to take home, or do what I did, which was to get chatting with Tim in the roastery.
He offered me a bag to take home and I, perhaps naively, asked him which one. And since Tim couldn’t decide, he ended up giving me samples of everything (although Wood St did get a copy of The Philosophy of Coffee in return). I’ve been enjoying the coffee ever since, with the seasonal espresso coming with me on my recent trip to Maine, while the decaf (which is excellent) has been keeping me company in the evenings on my current trip to Japan.
Of the filters, the Kii, Kenyan Peaberry, and in particular, the José Hernán Qunitero, a Geisha, went down very well through my V60, both at home and in Maine, while the final bag, the La Estrella Colombian, was a gift for Christopher, my coffee guide in Nagano. He brewed some up on his syphon and it was excellent!
December 2019: Wood St Coffee Roastery has won the 2019 Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
|BLACKHORSE WORKSHOP • 1-2 SUTHERLAND ROAD PATH • WALTHAMSTOW • E17 6BX|
|www.woodstcoffee.co.uk||+44 (0) 20 3005 3231|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:30||Roaster||Wood St (espresso + batch brew)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 16:30||Seating||Tables, Sofa, Bars; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 16:30||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 16:30||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 16:30||Cards||Yes|
|Saturday||09:30 – 17:30||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 16:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||27th July 2019|
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