Root Coffee (COVID-19 Update)

The words "Root Coffee" written in an arch in black capitals on white, tiled wall. "EST / 20 / 15" is written in red in a box below.I first visited Root Coffee back in 2016, when it was a relative newcomer to Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene, having opened right at the end of 2015. By the time of my return at the start of September, checking out how the city’s speciality coffee shops were coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, Root was an old hand, looking (and feeling) very similar to how it had over four years earlier.

Blessed with a large, bright interior and a generous outdoor seating area on the (already) pedestrianised western end of Seel Street, Root Coffee was ready-made to offer a COVID-safe environment with minimum change. The outdoor seating was reopened as soon as the restrictions were eased on 4th July, with the indoor seating quickly following.

These days, Root is almost back to normal, with slightly reduced opening hours (10:00 -17:00) and with the kitchen closing at three o’clock. The coffee is a good as I remember it, with a cast of three roasters gracing the various hoppers, although batch-brew is off the menu for the moment.

You can see what else has changed after the gallery.

  • At the bottom of Seel Street, I'm greeted by a familiar sight: Liverpool's Root Coffee.
  • Here's a similar(ish) view from my first visit in 2016.
  • Back to my most recent visit, where the outside seating looks remarkably similar.
  • Root Coffee in all its glory (from 2016).
  • Stepping inside, and not much has changed here, either. This is the current view...
  • ... and this is how it was in 2016.
  • And here's the view back towards the doors, again from 2016.
  • There is one obvious change: the neat, secluded lounge area to left of the doors...
  • ... now has a single, six-person table rather than the armchair/sofa combination.
  • The majority of the seating is off to the right, well-separated from the door (from 2016).
  • This is how it looked in 2016...
  • ... while this is how it looks now, the major change being the table in the middle.
  • It's a beautiful piece of furniture, from The Riven Oak.
  • I struggled to get a good picture of it though...
  • ... no matter how many different...
  • ... angles I tried!
  • The rest of the seating is much the same. These two tables (from 2016) are still there...
  • ... as is the window-bar, albeit with fewer seats.
  • Finally, the L-shaped, padded bench along the back wall is still there...
  • ... although the kitchen, behind the wall, has been upgraded.
  • The wall itself is new (well, new since 2016) and sports these neat retail shelves.
  • Something else I recall from my first visit: the light fittings. These are over the counter...
  • ... while I was also fascinated by these beauties.
  • Here's the equivalent picture from 2016!
  • To business. You order at the uncluttered counter...
  • .... where you'll find one of the few obvious changes due to COVID-19.
  • The chocolate display is new...
  • ... as is the brunch menu...
  • ... which comes with more on the back! Note the kitchen currently closes at three o'clock.
  • The brunch menu replaces the old toast menu, seen here in 2016...
  • ... which means there's now more space for the coffee!
  • Another familiar feature is the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine...
  • ... which is almost as shiny as it was four years ago!
  • I decided to put it to work and have an espresso...
  • ... choosing the guest espresso, a DR Congo single-origin from Craft House Coffee.
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Returning to Root Coffee, I had an immediate sense of familiarity, from the outside seating, with its five well-spaced tables separated from the street by low planters, to its tall, glass façade. Inside, the sense of familiarity grew, Root retaining the layout that’s served it so well since it opened.

The counter remains in its customary place against the back wall, facing you as you enter. Long and uncluttered, it runs nearly the full width of Root Coffee, giving way to the small kitchen on the right. This has been upgraded since my first visit, when it was screened off from the rest of the space. Now it has a proper wall and offers a predominantly toast-based brunch menu, along with pancakes and granola.

The seating is still split into two areas, with much of the original furniture. This was made by the owner, Dennis, using recycled pallets (bench seating and coffee tables) and naturally-weathered, reclaimed wood from the docks (wall cladding, counter and table-tops). There have been some changes though, with the small, cosy lounge area to the left having a single six-person table rather than the sofas and armchairs that I remember.

The majority of the seating is still to the right, led by the L-shaped, padded bench-seat, its back to you as you enter, plus the window-bar running the full length of the windows. However, the handful of tables that used to occupy the space in the middle have gone, replaced by a gorgeous, bespoke table from furniture maker, The Riven Oak. For now, this sits a maximum of six, no doubt a result of COVID-19 restrictions (which has also seen ta reduction in the number of seats at the window-bar). Finally, the padded bench which runs along the right-hand wall and part way along the kitchen wall is still there, albeit with slightly fewer tables (again, a COVID-19 precaution).

Turning to coffee, Root’s remained true to its multi-roaster ideals, championing some of the less well-known roasters, raising their brand awareness in Liverpool. These days, the rotation has largely settled down to three roasters, Hard Beans from Olope in Poland, West Sussex’s Craft House Coffee and, slightly closer to Liverpool, old friends Hundred House Coffee from Shropshire.

Root has two options on espresso, with a naturally-processed Brazilian from Hard Beans being the mainstay. While I was there, it was joined by another naturally-processed coffee, a Hutwe from the Democratic Republic of Congo, roasted by Craft House, while Hundred House was providing the pour-over option, a washed Ethiopian.

After a brief discussion with the barista, I selected the Hutwe, having been warned that it was quite different, which turned out to be an accurate description. I had it as an espresso, a fruity shot with an interesting kick to it. It’s probably not to everyone’s tastes, being unlike any espresso I’ve had this year, but that’s no bad thing, particularly if you are looking, like me, for some variety.

Even though Dennis wasn’t there when I visited, I was well-looked after by the friendly staff and it was like I hadn’t been away. I’ll try not to leave it four years next time!

52 HANOVER STREET • LIVERPOOL • L1 4AF +44 (0) 7500 040011
Monday 10:00 – 17:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 10:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Window-Bar, Tables outside
Wednesday 10:00 – 17:00 Food Cake, Toast
Thursday 10:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 10:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 10:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits Original: 6th May 2016
Update: 7th September 2020

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Liverpool.

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3 thoughts on “Root Coffee (COVID-19 Update)

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