London’s Workshop Coffee Co. first opened its doors in 2011 as the European cousin to Australia’s St.Ali—sharing the same name. But in April 2012 the company rebranded (full disclosure: I worked with them on their rebrand) and they’ve since become a household name in London’s specialty coffee scene. The first two Workshop locations were always high on my list of recommended places to visit in London and their wholesale accounts have grown considerably since my last time here.
Last week, Workshop’s third retail location opened at Holborn in the bottom of the new Amazon headquarter building and it’s quite an amazing coffee bar. When you arrive, large front doors open to a bright and spacious area with ample room to place an order or form a queue once Amazon is fully staffed with their employees.
When you enter to the left, there’s a large mirrored logo that casts a glow on several high standing tables and a wall mounted bench reminiscent of the trams in Sweden. This half of the space is designed to accommodate shorter stays and quick shots of espresso, while the back half of the shop offers a more lounging environment where several groups of people were having casual business meetings.
The bar is literally split in two, providing the ability to close off the back of the space with a sliding gate for private events, while keeping the front half open to the public. The back bar also provides the resources to speed up service during rush periods.
The front and back bars are both outfitted with La Marzocco Linea PBs, Mazzer grinders and Uber Boilers. If you’re interested in filter coffee, you can choose from a selection of single origins brewed on an AeroPress or a quick cup of batch brew from a dialed-in Fetco. To accommodate employees operating the well-equipped bar, the space behind it is almost equal to the space in front of it, giving baristas a luxurious amount of room to work with, which everyone seemed very happy about.
The new Workshop feels entirely different than the previous two locations, which are unique from each other in their own right, creating three very distinct experiences depending on where you go. This shop feels like it was designed for speed and efficiency, likely anticipating the rush from Amazon employees and the heavy foot traffic on the street outside. But it also has a very fresh and modern feel in stark contrast to the rustic, wood heavy aesthetic of the Clerkenwell café.
With the growing number of choices to drink delicious coffee in London, the new Workshop offers a refreshing take on the experience that provides a more energizing environment. It feels Scandinavian, without feeling too homey and cozy without putting you to sleep. There are elements that remind me of my favorite coffee bars around the world, like Koppi in Sweden and Saint Frank in San Francisco, all while making its own unique mark on the London coffee scene.
ST.ALi, one of the newer additions to the London coffee scene, is going through a bit of a change. They announced yesterday that they are parting ways with their sibling in Australia to blaze their own trail in London. I’m excited to have worked with Tim to help create the new face of Workshop Coffee Co., who will continue adding great value to specialty coffee in London at both their Clerkenwell and Marylebone locations.
Yesterday, the following announcement was shared on the ST.ALi website:
Friends, there are some changes a-foot.
In April 2011, we opened our Clerkenwell cafe under the same banner as some friends in Australia. Following shortly after, we opened our Marylebone coffeebar under the same arrangement.
The response from local customers and visitors alike has been wonderful, overwhelming and humbling, due in no small part to our fantastic team, and the guests we take care of everyday.
However, due largely to the constraints of an arrangement stretched across 10,000 miles, the time has come to blaze the trail on our own. On April 16th, the London operations of ‘ST. ALi’ and ‘Sensory Lab’ will undergo a name change, becoming Workshop Coffee Co.
So, aside from the name, what changes? Well, nothing else changes. The same friendly staff and the same dedicated owners continuing to develop, refine and improve what we do. The same great food, and the same delicious coffee.
We look forward to seeing you soon,
I’ve visited both locations in the past year and wrote about one of them last August. Both shops are a must visit when coffee touring though London, and Clerkenwell is great for a meal as well. All my best to the team at Workshop as they begin writing their new story.
There’s a new coffee guide out—and for those who enjoy the smell of fresh ink and the feeling of paper between your fingers, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not a smart phone app. This here is a genuine book with pages that turn!
I mentioned the release party of The Independent Coffee Book (London Edition) back in December and recently got ahold of one from Vespertine Press to review. From the photos I’d previously seen I thought the book was larger, but thankfully the photos were misleading. It’s nearly pocketable, measuring just 4.75″x6″ with a pleasant satin feel.
The book’s café listings are organized into 5 sections of London: The City, West End, East, North and South. There are 36 coffee shops featured with several more listed at the end of each chapter. I’ve been to about 10 of those mentioned in the book and had more than half of them on my own list of recommended locations. It’s nice to learn of a few new spots in London and it makes me anxious to return and try some of them out.
Each featured location includes a nicely written summary of them along with the accessibility of WiFi, outdoor seating and bathrooms. There are also icons that signify whether the location is a roastery, coffee cart, or KeepCup reseller.
Underneath the general information, there are stats that indicate what machines, brew methods and coffee beans are used at each location. While I appreciate this information and the effort that went into acquiring it, there are certain benefits of a digital app that would better serve this level of detail. Cafés can change their beans and equipment fairly easily, which could make the book out of date prematurely. It may have been better to leave this type of information out or include with some kind of online integration.
What I love most about this book, and what I think adds the most value, is the “coffee compendium.” This transforms the guide from a list of coffee shops for coffee nerds, to an awesome gift for the coffee curious. It not only gives the reader a nice introduction to coffee, but shows them where they can taste and learn more about great coffee.
The compendium includes a brief history of London coffee shops, maps of coffee production and consumption, articles on roasting, sourcing ethics, brew method summaries and a small glossary of coffee drinks and terms.
The design is nicely considered and well produced, with my biggest critiques being those of a typography nerd—don’t double-space after periods! The gaping rivers in some paragraphs that are created by unmanaged justified type also served as a distraction for me (although most people will never notice these sort of things). The system throughout the book is consistent and the photographs are fantastic.
The back cover folds out to reveal maps of each section, highlighting the featured locations and the nearest Underground stations. This is infinitely helpful if you’re visiting and don’t want to pay data roaming fees to use the map on your phone and have pledged to navigate your entire trip through analog means.
I generally prefer to have things like this in a digital format, to reduce the amount of things I own and the ensuing clutter it creates. But when designed well, it becomes a useful, beautiful object that won’t run out of batteries and can easily be loaned or given to friends once you’re done using it. I’m already planning a trip to London in March and look forward to putting this book through the trials of urban exploration.
For £10, it’s priced similar to other travel guides, but with a more specific focus. However, if you’ve read my thoughts on coffee touring—this book is all you need.
After beginning a self-imposed digital sabbatical last August, James Hoffmann, the co-owner of Square Mile Coffee, 2007 World Barista Champion and a well regarded coffee blogger is back online. Now older and wiser, James is ready to share his insightful contributions with us once again. For that, many are thankful.
Just a day after his return, Time Out London published this nice interview with James who shares his thoughts on the improvement of London’s coffee scene and the importance of a pleasing mouthfeel. If you haven’t met James Hoffmann, now’s a good time to get to know him. Welcome back James!
Last week, I wrote about the grand opening of the DunneFrankowski pop-up coffee bar in London. In an effort to foster conversation around the culture of coffee shops and the habits of customers, they are charting and sharing all of their coffee sales as they happen. This transparent tally will keep track of a daily and continuing sum of all the drinks ordered by customers during their time at Protein.
It will be interesting to see if certain beverages (like filter coffee) become more popular as customers begin to learn more about the coffees being served and have the opportunity to try new things. This is a cool experiment I look forward to following.
The Google Headquarters in London has officially been added to my list of “must visit” coffee destinations in the UK. The newly opened Engineering floor, dubbed “L4″ is fully loaded in ways you could only dream about for your own office.
My favorite part, of course, is the dedicated Coffee Lab. With 7 hoppers, 2 espresso machines and a myriad of manual brew methods to choose from (note the Presso & syphon centerpieces), you’ll have more decisions than just which one of the 19 available coffees you want to brew—impressive.
I’d love to know which coffees they have in stock and if there’s a barista on staff to train employees how to dial in a good shot. It would be a waste if such a beautiful set-up wasn’t being used for all of its potential.
Once you’ve brewed yourself a coffee, you can head over to the cinema, indoor park, arcade or soundproof band room for a jam session or karaoke party with co-workers. Only thing missing from this place is laser tag and a ball pit—and yes, they’re hiring.
If you’re in London tonight and love coffee, there’s really no other place you should be then at Protein, for the triple threat launch of DunneFrankowski the company, DunneFrankowski’s Independent Coffee Book (London edition), and Protein by DunneFrankowski—the coffee bar (18 Hewett Street).
There’s going to be beer, food, and DJ’s tonight and the coffee shop will be open to the public during the day from 8am to 4pm. I’ve already looked into RyanAir flights, but I sadly won’t be making a last minute trip to the UK.
DunneFrankowski is a partnership between Victor Frankowski and Rob Dunne (a participant at Coffee Common in Edinburgh) who aim to intersect various genres of culture through the medium of the café. Go meet the fellows, check out the new café and get a preview of London’s latest coffee book.
While I was in London a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of stopping by the Square Mile roastery just days before they packed up moved into their new space. Square Mile, co-owned by Anette Moldvaer and James Hoffmann, the 2007 World Barista Champion, is the go-to roaster in London for great coffee. It’s hard to find a progressive coffee shop in the city that isn’t serving them, and for good reason.
If you’ve ever listened to any of James Hoffmann’s podcasts, you have an idea of how passionate he is about coffee and exploring the possibilities of how much better it can be. He’s one of the nicest and most enlightening guys I’ve met in the coffee world and it’s always a pleasure to discuss coffee and enjoy a cup of it with him—especially when he’s brewing it. Congrats to James and Anette on their new space!
Enjoy some photos of Square Mile’s last days in their old location.
One of the newest shops in London is ST.ALi, which carries the same name and a bit of inspiration from a shop in Melbourne, Australia. What I love most about ST. ALi is that they’ve successfully combined a roastery and café bar, with a full menu restaurant. There are very few places I’ve been to around the world that can offer a solid brekkie, brunch or any other meal and compliment it with proper coffee—ST.ALi can.
After a week of experiencing the Costa Rica, Zamorana at Coffee Common, it was nice to also try the espresso blend they use in their shop. Which I found more balanced and enjoyable than the Zamorana alone. The coffee wasn’t the best I had in the city, but the program is young and moving fast, already creating a new venue for people in London to experience well-prepared, progressive coffee. Tim Williams, a fellow co-founder of Coffee Common, has been leading the growth and refinement of the coffee program with help from Baptiste Kreyder, who participated in Coffee Common at TEDGlobal.
The space itself is beautiful with two floors and two coffee bars. The downstairs is outfitted with a lovely Slayer, while a Synesso graces the bar upstairs. The back of the restaurant opens up to a ceiling of skylights high above—which keeps the living wall well fed and the roasting area well lit during the day. The environment is a great way to get everyday customers—coming in for food—to be introduced to coffee in a great new way.
If you’re in London or going soon, your coffee tour wouldn’t be complete without ST.Ali. I would highly recommend planning your trip around a meal as well.
You can now drink your coffee without losing street cred, thanks to Thabto (two heads are better than one), a design duo from London. Thabto specialize in designing fun and unique gifts, accessories and homewears. This mug was the groups first product and their latest, a keychain that stabilizes “wonkey” cafe tables, solves an age old problem without wasting sugar packets.