Avenue Coffee grew out of the Avenue G café on Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End. The intention was for Avenue G to roast its own coffee and the second branch, on the Great Western Road, was designed with this in mind. More of a coffee shop than the original, the mezzanine level at the rear of the shop was set aside as the roastery and Tom, then head roaster, oversaw the procurement and installation of the Diedrich roaster.
However, Tom left and the roasting duties were shared by Katelyn and Todd, who have now been joined by Colin, who they are training up as a roaster in his own right. These days, Avenue Coffee roasts around 100 kg a week, of which between 40-60 kg is for its own use (one-third at Great Western Road, two-thirds at Avenue G) with the remainder going to the likes of Glasgow’s Spitfire Espresso and Rialto in Eyemouth. Output includes espresso blends (for example, Spitfire has its own bespoke espresso blend) and single-origins, a cracking decaf (which I’ve enjoyed at home) and several seasonal single-origins roasted for filter. These are all available to buy in the two Avenue stores as well as on-line.
May 2018: I’ve recently learnt that Avenue Coffee is no more. However, both Katelyn and Todd now have their own coffee roasting companies, Common Coffee in Edinburgh (Katelyn) and The Good Coffee Cartel in Glasgow (Todd, along with Courtney, another ex-Avenue Coffee person).
Nottingham’s speciality coffee scene has come a long way since I first visited 2½ years ago, coming away disappointed. Now there’s a flourishing café scene, led by the likes of 200 Degrees, Wired Café Bar, The Pudding Pantry and, out in Beeston, Greenhood Coffee House. However, a good coffee scene needs local roasters too, and Nottingham is now blessed with both 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters and, more recently, Outpost Coffee Roasters.
Although a new name to the speciality coffee world, Outpost brings a wealth of experience in its founders, Greg and Alex. Greg has a long and distinguished history in coffee roasting, having owned Café Boutique, while Alex used to manage The Bean, a family-run coffee shop in Beeston (Alex’s mother still owns it). Greg wanted to take things to the next level and start roasting speciality coffee, while Alex wanted to branch out from the role of barista/shop manager. Together with Liz, who does the all-important admin, they make the perfect team.
Outpost has a training facility/espresso lab in a lovely first-floor space on Stoney Street, in Nottingham city centre, while the roasting takes place in an industrial estate on the city’s outskirts, using a 10kg Petroncini from Italy.
Before there was ever 200 Degrees, the award-winning coffee shop in the centre of Nottingham, there was 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters, who first brought my attention to Nottingham as somewhere where you could get decent coffee.
200 Degrees grew out of Belle and Jerome, a well-known coffee shop in West Bridgford, just down from Trent Bridge cricket ground, and a desire of the owners, Rob and Tom, to roast their own coffee. The catalyst was third partner, Tim, who brought a passion for roasting, having caught the coffee-bug in New Zealand.
Called 200 Degrees after the temperature green beans are roasted at, 200 Degrees grew from fairly humble beginnings to become what is now a fairly major player in Nottingham’s growing speciality coffee scene. As well as supplying its own coffee shop, 200 Degrees also supplies a number of other local shops, roasting a couple of espresso blends, a filter blend and three or four single-origin filters.
As well as supplying coffee, plus the necessary kit to go with it, 200 Degrees is also expanding into training, both for its wholesale customers and for the general consumer, as seen in its training room at the 200 Degrees Coffee Shop.
Quarter Horse Coffee started life on Oxford’s Cowley Road (where the original Quarter Horse Coffee has become Peleton Espresso), where it used coffee from Square Mile. However, in 2015, Quarter Horse moved to Birmingham, setting up a café/roastery. Nathan, who founded the original Quarter Horse with colleague James, hails from Normal, Illinois, and was a roaster before he came to the UK, so this marked a return to his (roasting) roots.
Quarter Horse created a lovely spot on Bristol Street, the roastery sharing the space with a large, open café (which features in its own Coffee Spot), Originally, this was behind a waist-high counter, which meant that the roastery was visible from pretty much every part of the building, but a major remodelling during the enforced COVID-19 shutdown saw the roastery enclosed in its own room. The roastery is still going strong, with the roaster, a 15 kg Giesen (which has been the mainstay of the operation since it opened in 2015), visible through a window in the wall dividing the roastery from the café.
I first came across Tandem Coffee Roasters in Boston, where I enjoyed a cappuccino at Render Coffee, made using Tandem’s seasonal Time and Temperature espresso blend. I also met with Larry, owner of Boston’s Pavement Coffeehouse chain, who sang the praises of Tandem’s co-founder, Will (an ex-Pavement employee). That pretty much sealed it for me, and when, a few days later, I popped up the New England coast to Portland to start my coast-to-coast, Portland-to-Portland train trip, I naturally sought out Tandem’s roastery.
What I found wasn’t just a thriving roastery, but an excellent, friendly coffee bar too. The coffee bar aside, which features in its own Coffee Spot, this Meet the Roaster post focuses on the roastery side of the business. When I first visited in 2015, the roastery was in one half of a single-storey, L-shaped building, also home to the coffee bar. These days, it’s become so busy, it’s had to relocate to a separate building just behind the first, where a 35 kg Loring roaster takes pride of place, roasting all of Tandem’s coffee, for use in-house in the coffee bar and Tandem’s bakery/coffee shop on Congress Street as well as for Tandem’s growing wholesale business.
The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster is the Brooklyn Roasting Company. Tucked away on Jay Street, under the Manhattan Bridge, it was a highlight of my visit to Brooklyn back in March. Occupying the ground floor of a sprawling five-storey building, it’s an amazing place, which, as well as being a wonderful coffee shop, is also the Brooklyn Roasting Company’s headquarters, with all the roasting taking place on-site.
So, as well as popping in for a great cup of coffee, you can also sit in the far corner watching the green beans being hoovered into the 35kg Loring roaster and enjoying the spectacle of freshly-roasted beans pouring out some 12 minutes later. Don’t worry about when to come if you want to catch the roaster in action; it’s pretty much a nonstop, all-day operation!
Although the Brooklyn Roasting Company is a very modern affair, the building on Jay Street is steeped in coffee history. It used to be the stables of the famous Arbuckles’ coffee roastery, which was situated across Jay Street, the horses being used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to haul the sacks of green beans from the ships docked at the nearby waterfront.
As I have written elsewhere about Sheffield’s coffee scene, it very much grew up independently and spontaneously about three years ago. This holds true as much for its cafés as it does for its roasters, typified by the subject of today’s Meet The Roaster series, Foundry. Set up almost three years ago by founder, Lee, Foundry is content to do its own thing, in its own way and at its own pace.
Concentrating on roasting solely single origins and on selling primarily directly to the consumer through the internet, Foundry initially focused more on the filter market than espresso, which makes up the bulk of a typical roaster’s sales. Then again, there’s nothing typical about Foundry! Foundry diversified into espresso when the second member of the team, Callum, came on board.
These days, Foundry roasts five or six single-origin beans, looking to extract the flavours that Lee identifies in the green bean. The aim is to get the optimum roast profile and then work out what extraction method best suits it, with a focus on the clarity of the taste. You can find Foundry’s output on its website although the coffee’s also available in a limited number of coffee shops.
January 2017: Foundry now has a coffee shop of its very own on Bank Street in Sheffield City Centre. You can see what I made of it when I visited in February 2018.
November 2019: Foundry has moved to the Cutlery Works, a food hall on the banks of the River Don, combining its coffee shop and roastery operations. As a result, it’s closed the original roastery and the coffee shop on Bank Street (the coffee shop being taken over by Cassinelli’s).
The first Saturday Supplement of 2015 is another in the (now not so) occasional Meet the Roaster series. After the recent appearances by Leeds’ North Star and Manchester’s Ancoats, we now head north of the border to North Berwick and Steampunk Coffee. I wrote about Steampunk’s fantastic café/roastery, The Warehouse, towards the end of last year, but that was in its guise as a Coffee Spot. Today, I’m focusing on Steampunk in its role as a roaster, which is how I first came across it earlier in the year when I visited Edinburgh’s Machina Espresso.
The roasting side of Steampunk is firmly on display when you enter The Warehouse. Tucked away to the right (behind the Christmas tree when I visited) there’s a whole corner dedicated to Steampunk’s 12 kg Probat roaster, which is usually in action on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, should you wish to see it on the go. I, of course, was there on a Sunday…
Steampunk roasts a number of espresso blends, the main ones being the Tiger Stripes and Velos blends, while there are around 10 single origins, of which four or so are being roasted/are available at any one time.
November 2015: I ran into the Steampunk guys at Cup North, and discovered that Steampunk now only roasts single-origins.
Typical: you wait ages for a Meet the Roaster Saturday Supplement, then two come along in the same month! Hot on the heels of North Star Micro Roasters comes, from the other side of the Pennines, Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Company.
Back in August, as part of my Manchester tour for Caffeine Magazine, I popped in to see Jamie, the man behind Ancoats. Appropriately enough, you can find Jamie in the birth-place of Manchester’s industrial revolution, the Ancoats district, after which the company takes its name. Just to the east of the city centre, it’s a remarkably accessible part of town, although it does look like it’s come straight out of the famous Life on Mars TV series, which was set in Manchester in the 1970s.
Jamie set up Ancoats in October 2013 and began trading in January 2014, so he’s about to celebrate Ancoats first birthday. Roasting on a 6 kg Giesen, Ancoats produces a seasonal espresso blend (appropriately enough, called Warehouse City), an excellent decaf and a number of single-origin beans. You can learn about Ancoats’ coffee on the website, where you can also buy the beans. Alternatively pop in and say hello: Jamie would love to see you.
November 2015: Ancoats has moved to an amazing new café/roastery in Manchester’s Royal Mills development. I’ve also done an update on the roastery.
Today’s Saturday Supplement is another in the occasional Meet the Roaster series. Today we’re in Leeds, at North Star Micro Roasters, who have been going for just over a year now. I went to see Krag and Ellis, the guys behind North Star, back in the summer as part of my Coffee Spot tour of Leeds.
Roasting with a 5 kg Toper in an industrial estate just north of Leeds, North Star is that city’s first micro-roaster, which is a quite a surprise considering the strong coffee scene in the city and in the nearby Harrogate and York, which, together with Leeds, make up the Yorkshire Coffee Triangle. There’s also a strong roasting presence with the likes of Holmfirth’s Grumpy Mule, while in Harrogate, Falcon Speciality is one of the country’s leading green bean importers.
However, Leeds’ wait for a speciality coffee roaster to call its very own ended last October when North Star started production. There are two espresso blends, the seasonal Czar Street, which changes three to four times a year, and the Dark Arches blend. Added to this are around eight single-origins, roasted primarily for filter, but with some roasted for espresso.
August 2017: North Star moved the roastery to Leeds Dock last year, opening a cafe in the space next door in July this year. Expect an update soon!