Coffee@33 (Original)

The counter at Coffee@33, burdened with sandwiches and cake, with the espresso machine at the far end.I was put onto Coffee@33 by Bradley of Horsham Coffee Roaster, so when Caffeine Magazine asked me to write an article on the Brighton coffee scene, I made Coffee@33 my first stop, although it very nearly wasn’t. Coffee@33 is fairly unassuming from the street and I actually walked right past it before realising my mistake!

My immediate reaction on stepping inside was that it’s a pop-up. However, nothing could be further from the truth since Coffee@33 was one of the forerunners of the current speciality coffee boom in Brighton, having been set up five years ago. Coffee@33 has that stripped-back look that is so-beloved of many modern coffee shops, only with Coffee@33, you get the feeling this isn’t an affectation or the result of a trendy designer, rather it’s just how it is. There’s no music, no art on the walls, nothing, in fact, to distract from the coffee itself, which is what Coffee@33 is all about.

Coffee@33 gets its beans from legendary London roasters, Monmouth, and from the local Horsham Coffee Roaster, which supplies an exclusive espresso house-blend, along with a decaffeinated option and regularly-rotating filter options. This compliments an espresso blend and another filter option from Monmouth.

April 2019: I’ve updated my piece on Coffee @33. This is the original write-up, published in November 2013. For an up-to-date description, please see the updated post, while you can see what’s changed in my Coffee Spot Update.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Coffee@33,  looking very nondescript from the street.
  • The view from just inside the door is very appealing, with Chris & Tom behind the counter.
  • The best seats in the house. I had to wait ages to get this shot!
  • One of the two bars opposite the counter.
  • The door at the back leads to a little garden.
  • The view from the back of Coffee@33.
  • The counter was groaning under the weight of the sandwiches and cakes...
  • First come the sandwiches...
  • ... then the pastries...
  • ... then the cakes!
  • The coffee menu, although extensive, is also simple.
  • The filter menu is even simpler!
  • The espresso machine, with three grinders: Monmouth, Horsham & (Horsham) Decaf.
  • Not sure what's going on here... Could they be fighting over who makes my coffee?
  • Talk about crema. Look at that!
  • You've got to be quick with the camera though. This is a few seconds later.
  • And this is what it looked like when I got back to the bar to drink it!
  • My blueberry, lemon curd and coconut slice.
  • I also got a chance to watch an expert at work. Latte art: the prep (1/5)
  • Latte art: the pour (2/5)
  • Latte art: the pattern (3/5)
  • Latte art: the finishing touches (4/5)
  • Latte art: the final flourish (5/5)
  • The finished article, a real work of art.
  • Sign of a really good latte: the pattern holds even as the coffee is drunk.
  • Next up: a pour-over (for another customer). Step 1/8, weighing the beans
  • Step 2/8, preparing the filter paper.
  • Step 3/8, setting the glass.
  • Step 4/8, rinsing the filter paper.
  • Step 5/8, wetting the grounds (I missed them putting the grounds in!)
  • Step 6/8, the main pour.
  • Step 7/8, almost done.
  • Step 8/8, wait for the coffee to brew.
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Coffee@33 is just a stone’s throw away from Brighton station (take an immediate right, double-back on yourself and head under the bridge). From there it’s a short walk down Trafalgar Street, where you’ll find Coffee@33 on the right, on the corner of Trafalgar Lane. From the street, it’s not exactly eye-catching, so try not to walk past it like I did!

Coffee@33 isn’t a big place, the store running back from a big window at the front, where there’s a low, padded bench; a low, wooden table and a scattering of wooden stools. A couple of simple wooden counters run along the right-hand wall, while the counter occupies the bulk of the space to the left. At the back, a door leads to a small outdoor seating area which in turn gives access to the kitchen, where all the baking is done. Sadly it was raining, so I didn’t get a chance to sample the delights of the garden.

The interior feels like an old shop, with its whitewashed walls and bare floorboards. There are white tiles at the back and wood abounds, including most of the seating and the counter. It all adds up to a very fine space, which I quickly fell in love with. It’s not necessarily a place to linger for too long, although if you can get a seat by the window, you could probably stay all day. While I was there, there was a fair mix of customers, with a steady stream of people popping in for a takeaway and a good few more taking the chance to sit down and enjoy their coffee.

It seemed to me that most of the customers were regulars, something that was backed up by the baristas on duty, Chris and Tom. According to them, the co-owners, Taras and Amerigo (who sadly I never met), make coffee purely for the enjoyment of it. Coincidently people come in and pay for it. I got the impression that if they could make a living giving their coffee away for free, then they would!

Chris and Tom were happy to talk the finer points of coffee with me and other customer, but there was none of the pretention that you get in some coffee shops. I started off with the house blend from Horsham Coffee Roaster, which comes either as a short double in a glass or as a very short single in a (very fine) cup. The beans were very fresh, resulting in a really impressive crema (one of the advantages of serving espresso in a glass is that you can really see the crema).

My espresso was excellent, although a little too bright for me, but third-wave purists should love it. I really wanted to try the filter coffees (Horsham was offering a Rwandan, while Monmouth had an Indonesian on offer). Sadly, since I was on Caffeine Magazine duty and had another four coffee shops to visit that day, I decided I’d better pace myself and forgo the pleasure.

I did, however, sample the cake, which is all baked on the premises. Chris and Tom recommended the blueberry, lemon curd and coconut slice. While this had a little too much coconut for me, it was nonetheless very fine with the blueberries coming through good and strong.

33 TRAFALGAR STREET • BRIGHTON • BN1 4BP +44 (0) 1273 004117
Monday 07:30 – 18:00 Roaster Monmouth + Horsham Coffee Roaster (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 18:00 Seating Stools, bench in window
Wednesday 07:30 – 18:00 Food  Sandwiches, Cakes
Thursday 07:30 – 18:00 Service  Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 18:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits Original: 6th September 2013
Update: 12th December 2018

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Brighton and Hove’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Brighton & Hove.