Words by Philip Smith
When I spent some time in Germany last year, I regularly frequented a coffee roaster in one of the outer districts of Leipzig. The proprietor explained the process of coffee roasting and guided me around his in-house machinery. The filtered caffeinated drink that the contraption produced was some of the finest coffee I had ever tasted. Served with a small glass of water for the palette and the opportunity to take some of the beans home for your own percolator, this DIY, unassuming wooden shop was a real gem of a find.
Upon my return to London, I decided to investigate into the roasting of coffee in South London. These Top 6 are to be visited now that the wind’s picking up, autumn’s setting in and the call for a coffee and a catch up is imminent.
Borough: Monmouth Coffee Company
Monmouth Coffee is a worldwide famous brand. Their coffee is excellent and is roasted in Bermondsey. Open on Saturdays only their Bermondsey location might be a good place to visit towards the end of your Bermondsey Brewery Mile tour when energy is lacking.
With other shops in Covent Garden and Borough, the coffee can be bought and taken home. One should note that due to their celebrated coffee and their locations, there is usually a reasonable queue and not a huge amount of seating. Featured in the Top 100 Coffee Shops this is a place not to be missed for coffee connoisseurs.
Although not roasted in-house, Federation’s espresso gets its bespoke blend from North London roasters Campbell & Syme. They change their blend with every season and it is tailor made to their Brixton customers. In the past they have sourced their coffee from Sweden (Koppl Coffee) and also from nearby London roasters TAP. Their espresso is changed monthly and they also boast a delightful kitchen.
A short walk from Brixton tube and you’ll stumble across Federation. Head down and get out of the cold before hitting the clubs and bars that Brixton has to offer. Get those energy levels high with a wonderful mug of coffee and a bite from their range of croissants, pastries, grilled cheese sandwiches and sweets.
Brockley: Dark Fluid
Within Brockley Market Dark Fluid coffee roasters can be found. Established in 2011, they have a huge selection of coffee from around the world that is uniquely roasted to bring out some amazing flavours. With a three group lever coffee machine, you won’t be waiting long for your coffee to arrive. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and will pour you the perfect cup.
Peckham: The Old Spike Roastery
Not only does the Old Spike Roastery run as a coffee house and roaster but it is also a piece of social entrepreneurship. The company, co-founded by Cemel Ezel provides housing and a living wage to homeless people who now work for the company.
In a series of blind tests undertaken by restaurants, Spike’s coffee came out superior in terms of taste. By spending time and money at the roaster not only will you receive a great cup of coffee, roasted in-house, but you will also help the local community and help get people indoors and into work.
West Norwood: Volcano Coffee Works
Volcano Coffee Works was set up but a couple of friends back in 2010. Native New Zealanders, they were part of the late 80s Independent Cafe boom, and became “inspired by design, function, great food and an obsession for fantastic coffee.” You can visit Volcano Coffee Works in the Parkhall Trading Estate in West Norwood where you can buy from the wholesaler and there is also a café where the coffee can be sampled straight from the roaster!
Volcano use 100% Arabica beans of the highest grades. For their filtered coffee they build layers of flavour, manipulating their green beans to achieve the desired balance of sweetness, acidity, body and flavour in every single cup.
Woolwich: Drury Tea & Coffee
Having spent 16 years at their headquarters in Bermondsey, Drury have now moved to Woolwich Arsenal where the centre point of their new facility is a new Brambati 300kg batch roaster which has the capability to produce over 2000 tonnes of coffee per annum. Drury offer 16 different espresso blends, which is the most comprehensive of any roaster.
One of the places Drury Coffee is stocked is at Halcyon Books, a secret oasis of peace and calm in busy South-East London. Stop by and pick up a second hand book, take it out into the quaint, walled garden, sit back with your Drury coffee and you’ve got a wonderful, autumnal afternoon sorted. Or get in contact with Drury Tea & Coffee and have the finest of blends delivered to your home or business.