Founded in 2011, Exploding Bakery have been championing brilliant baked goods for over a decade. Committed to excellent ingredients, working with like-minded partners and producers, and doing so fairly, their approach aligns closely with our own and so working together felt like an obvious decision.
As Co-founder Oli highlights, “the partnership has to be right. Exploding Bakery and Workshop care so much about quality, but also share a responsibility for caring for the planet. Partnerships like this are a great way to shout from the rooftops and be heard by a wider audience”.
Throughout June, you’ll find Workshop Coffee being served in their cafe in Exeter, and you can also add a coffee and cake bundle to your basket in their online shop. This brings together José & Negusse Filter Blend with one of their deli cakes, to be enjoyed together with friends or indulged in alone.
To celebrate, we’re offering three prize packages combining exceptional coffee and cake to create indulgent care packages delivered straight to your door.
To enter, simply follow the steps below.
This competition has now closed.
It’s been five years since our last ceramics release and what better reason to introduce our latest than in celebration of our 10th anniversary? Working closely with Andrea Roman of AR Ceramics over several months, we’ve created a beautiful range of limited edition ceramic cups and coffee sets designed to elevate your daily coffee brewing and drinking experience.
Throughout the project, we spent time with Andrea in her studio in Bow, London, to document the process and discover more about her approach to creating her simple but striking pieces. The culmination of these visits can be seen in this video. Ahead of the release of our AR Ceramics x Workshop Coffee collection, we also sat down to talk to her about her journey into the world of ceramics.
“Growing up in Mexico, I always remember things like walking in the market with my family and seeing all of these terracotta pots everywhere and I think that’s what sparked my interest. I never worked with clay as a kid though”.
Indeed, it wasn’t until Roman made it to university at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to study Product Design that she discovered her love for the ceramics workshop.
“That’s where I felt more connected with the material. My tutors there were just great and they really encouraged me. They saw an interest, a passion and a degree of skill and they pushed me to continue”.
And that’s exactly what she did. Bringing her love of ceramics with her to London, Andrea moved here in 2013 and, soon after arriving, learnt how to throw using a potter’s wheel. It was this technique that she felt a deep connection.
“Ceramics is a slow endeavour and you can’t rush things. You always think you can make things quicker, but there’s a power within the process that’s bigger than all of your deadlines”.
Was that slower, more meaningful timeframe part of the draw?
“Definitely. On the whole, a lot of people aren’t used to the fact that ceramics involve a lot of stages in order for them to be ready. If I start making a cup today, the fastest I’m going to be able to get it back to you is in three weeks time. You have to take your time and enjoy it. You can’t be in a rush and so you really need to be present — it’s absorbing and quite meditative.”.
Does that more considered pace extend to the ingredients and materials you’re working with?
“You do need to make sure that your raw ingredients are as good as they can be and that means having to prepare. I think if you make sure that your starting elements are good, then the rest is just all about making it work and your skill”.
Andrea enlists a less often seen technique in the way she colours her cups. Rather than applying a glaze to each piece, she works a stain into the clay by hand and so the colour stems from the clay itself, rather than a glaze applied towards the end of the process.
Meaning she has to work carefully between batches, it involves adhering to a specific recipe of clay, slip and stain every time to ensure uniformity across pieces.
“I’ve always liked simple, uncomplicated forms. I really love the material itself. Clay for me is something amazing and I love its texture. I like to think of adding colour this way as a chance to get the user closer to the clay. By leaving the external surface unglazed, I’m trying to highlight the peculiar, tactile quality of the clay”
There’s a definite contrast between Andrea’s work and her surroundings. The industrial, somewhat dilapidated nature of the area surrounding her studio emits its own rugged charm. Whilst not immediately obvious, this has an impact on her work.
“The industrial nature of my surroundings – the canal, all the warehouses, looking out of the window and seeing the derelict buildings – as time passes you start appreciating where you are. I love the broken windows, the way the sun is reflected and the light that the windows bring into my studio in the evenings. I really enjoy the basic shapes and forms I see and they inform my work, which I think of as somewhat architectural”.
As Andrea finishes her coffee, her attention turns away from our conversation and back towards her pieces, which sit side by side on a shelf behind us. They seem to almost stand to attention, imposing themselves on the room, but in a subtle way. It’s seeing them like this that leads to the realisation that the collection is even greater than the sum of its parts. Each cup and decanter is impressive in and of itself, but the true feat of Roman’s work is the ability to recreate them again and again to such a high standard and degree of consistency.
“For me, it’s not that I’m making a single piece – the whole group is the piece. I’m thinking about the whole process and how it’s split into different stages; it’s very cyclical and you’re working through them again and again and again.
So is this how we should enjoy them? Placed on a shelf to be looked at and admired?
“I don’t see these as display pieces. I want people to use them every day and to become their favourite thing. They should be more than something that you have on a shelf in your living room or kitchen. I want you to use it and feel it.
The aim is for them to be functional on a daily basis”.
You can shop our limited edition ceramics collection now:
It’s quiet in the narrow lanes and on the leafy suburban streets of Hackney as we make our way to Fred Rigby Studio. That’s because it’s early. Fred likes to get a jump on the day, tackling a few important tasks before the majority of the city has started the journey into the office or towards their home-working stations.
Unluckily for him, his bike has suffered a puncture and so he’s running late. We use the juncture to pick up breakfast pastries and he arrives unflustered, reinflated and ready to begin.
Welcoming us into his studio, the first thing he does is brew us a cup of coffee in his Moccamaster, which bestrides a beautiful marble countertop in the corner of his office and is surrounded by plants. Everywhere you look, from the sketches pinned to the wall to the books and models on the shelves, you get a sense for the natural and the organic – two enormous influences on the pieces Rigby creates.
“Growing up in Dorset and around nature, I love the concept of connecting it back to nature. Afterall, my pieces are made with natural materials on the whole. Our tables are carved and shaped like a pebble so you’ve got this organic shape sat in your room and the curvaceous nature of them let’s you come into the room and run your hand round the piece and follow it. For me, it’s just got this calming nature, whereas with a more rectangular table doesn’t create that kind of environment”.
That natural influence means Fred is incredibly careful with the materials he chooses to work with.
“Because of the size of our studio and the amount we produce, we make sure the raw materials at the beginning are quality. We’re craftsmen and we want to make sure that what’s being sent off is quality.
After years of experimentation and trial and error, we’ve managed to find a really good source of different materials. We’re on a first name basis with the suppliers that we use and they know what we’re looking for and what we’ll reject, so we’ve built a really good relationship with them.”
We’ve not quite finished our first cup of coffee, but the parallels in our approaches are already becoming clear. Does he, like us, think about the origin of the materials he uses and how that will impact the final piece?
“Origin really depends on the materials, but all of our suppliers are UK-based, and we don’t use exotic hardwoods. Hopefully the designs work in harmony with the natural materials because all we’re really trying to do is show what they’re capable of and how they can look their best."
So beyond finding the right materials, is there a process or overarching ethos that the studio adheres to?
“We like to think we’re a thoughtful studio. We think about something when we’re designing it and where the materials come from, but we’re also trying to think all the way through to packaging; where it comes from, what someone’s going to do with it when the piece arrives with them – we’re thinking about the whole revolution.
I think whether it’s furniture or something else, a lot of people have been neutralised. You can get things that are just made – ready to go. It makes it easy to forget the process behind all of those things. A table doesn’t just exist, someone’s had to design it, someone’s had to source all the materials and someone’s had to make it. It’s the same with a cup of coffee I guess.”
On the subject of the coffee, does that play a part in your day-to-day here?
“Our days start with a coffee. We always sit down and have one in the morning, discuss what we’re going to do – it’s just an integral part of a day. After lunch as well. We’re always flat out, so it’s that moment we get to sit down, talk and taste something delicious. It’s like ‘let’s have a cup of coffee and grab a piece of paper and a pen’ and by the time you’ve finished you’ll go your separate ways and crack on with the project.”
But ultimately, you’re working to create something that lasts?
“Longevity is built into the pieces we’re making. The cycle of our furniture sees us choosing sustainable materials to work from and making pieces that last. There’s so much greenwashing at the moment, with so many companies saying they’re sustainable. They’re saying it but there’s perhaps one part of their business that’s actually sustainable; you look at the back of house and everything arrives in plastic. There’s just so many areas to cover, but I think the best thing you can do is be thoughtful about what you’re doing.”
We’re currently running a competition with Fred Rigby Studio. To win his brewing set-up and a Raindrop Side Table, head to this Instagram post before midnight on Sunday 24th October and enter. You can find out more about Fred Rigby Studio and view his pieces at fredrigbystudio.com.
Intermittently sipping his cappuccino from a cup made by Portuguese ceramic studio Studio Jav, Rafael Oliveira smiles warmly from behind the screen. The cup, combined with the pristine, white-washed brick wall that serves as his backdrop, allude to his passion for cleanliness and simplicity in both his day job and his wider life.
Having grown up in Portugal, it was here that Rafael studied film and photography at Instituto Politécnico do Porto before beginning a career in graphic design that has seen him working with companies based in Barcelona and more recently, Boston, which is home to performance running brand Tracksmith. Working from his newly built home in the city of Porto, he leads their creative output, overseeing everything, from their striking typography to their celebratory, and at times emotive, imagery.
“I didn’t necessarily follow what you’d call the normal path to get to this point. Graduating in film and photography, many of the skills that I use in my professional career today are self-taught. The software aspects, the graphic design – you know, the canons and rules – were not discovered by reading the right books and following a specific curriculum. Much of it has been found by trial and error, by making my way through it. And by finding my way through it, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to get a lot of shit out of my system. That doesn’t mean I don’t still do shit work today – not at all! – but I feel I’ve been able to become better at learning how to do things a little bit better each time. And now I’m at this point where all of the elements that I was able to take control of have added up to get me here.”
“I learned at my own pace and chose to dedicate my time to learning about something that felt important to me, rather than it feeling prescribed, and that meant I was able to find my own rhythm and pace”.
As you’d expect from someone whose job it is to manage the way an entire company is perceived, the subject of control comes up frequently as we spend an hour talking and nursing our coffees in our respective time zones. It has negative connotations, bringing to mind micro-management and rigidity, but Oliveira is a staunch believer in it being a catalyst for creativity and a crucial ingredient in his pursuit of creating something better.
“So many things are out of our control, so for me it’s about controlling the things I can and not worrying about the other stuff. I like my furniture organised, my plates and dishes just so – I just like that there is a sense of order. If it looks okay to me, if it looks organised and uncluttered, it’s an achievement.”
And that creeps into all areas of your life?
“Of course. It’s a cliché, especially from a runner that works for a running brand, but I adopt a marathon mentality in so many of the things I do. You cannot expect to run well if you haven’t done the work. There’s no way! The distance will call you out. But at the same time, it’s not necessarily about crossing the finish line either. It’s about that commitment day in day out, tweaking things slightly and then seeing what the outcome of that is as you try and get a little bit better every week. Yes, it’s great to cross a finish line, but that moment is the result of that anonymous early morning run on a Tuesday, when nobody else was out there and you weren’t quite happy with the pace, but it doesn’t matter because you were out there running. They add up to allow you to get better and do what you want to do.
And it’s kind of the same with coffee, right? It demands engagement from you. You can go about and not care, using whatever amount of beans from whichever place and you still get a cup at the end of it. But is it good? It depends, and taste varies because different people like different things, but for me, I want to get it to a particular place by weighing out my coffee, tweaking and changing the temperature, folding the filter paper a certain way and seeing what impact it has.”
That’s not to say he’d describe himself as a conformist. “You need to know the rules before you can break them”, says Rafael. “You always need to start at the point of control and impose these sorts of restrictions to better understand the process and what they allow you to do, and what you like or don’t like about them. From there, you can decide what you need or want to change and create something that’s much more personal because they’ve been done by you and you alone. In that sense, they’re not replicable and provide a sense of enjoyment – at least for me”.
Having returned to Portugal and built a house with his wife in its coastal city of Porto, Rafael is no stranger to remote working. As a result, while many of us have followed suit, his day-to-day routines haven’t necessarily changed. However, their structure certainly has, with his daily schedule being bulked out with blocks of meetings and calls.
“My attention has become super fragmented and that’s been the hardest thing for me to adapt to over the last year or so. I’ve found myself with less time to spend with my own thoughts and coffee has presented me with a chance to relax, which I realise is kind of ironic – it’s associated with making you more alert and focused, but for me it kind of let’s me step out of a zone. I stand up from my desk and I walk into my kitchen in an entirely separate part of my house and I brew my coffee whilst looking back at my desk, take a step outside onto my patio, breathe in some fresh outside air and try as much as possible to stop and relax for a little bit.”
Has it been a boon over the last 18 months?
“The first thing I’d wake up thinking about is the pot of coffee I was going to brew and it was the first thing I did. With more time to try things and experiment at home, it’s definitely allowed me to discover what it takes to brew a cup of coffee, you know? Where does it come from? What does my favourite café do that I’m not doing? How can I make this better?
Until recently, there was absolute certainty in what I was going to brew because I only had my Chemex, but I’ve recently bought an espresso machine, so now I leave it to the day to decide”.
Is there a preference for one over the other?
“It completely depends. Sometimes I run early and, if I’m heading out on a longer run I like to do it on an empty stomach. So, I’ll just take a quick shot of espresso and I head out the door. If I’m leaving a little later in the day so I can get better weather or wait until it’s a touch warmer, I’ll probably indulge in a cappuccino with my breakfast and let a couple of hours pass.
That said, I love filter coffee – I think it’s great. It takes a little more time and I think it’s almost more engaging in a way. The Chemex, for instance – it’s a beautiful sculpture. Just looking at it and the orangey, rusty coffee liquid inside is beautiful.
It’s here that Oliveira’s passion for a combination of aesthetic and process – for form and function – becomes abundantly clear. There is, he concedes, a possibility he attaches more weight to the visual aspect of things than most, but he loves things that look good. Holding up his cup, he says:
“My eyes are the gateway to my brain. I know that there’s a lot of privilege that comes with saying this, but when you’re engaging and taking the time to use something I also believe it should be beautiful. It helps increase the experience, heightens the senses and makes everything that little bit better. It’s not just about what you consume, but how you consume it – it adds to the overall process.
“Of course the product is important too and I’ve more recently become more attentive to where my beans are from. Where does that come from, what does that do to the flavour? I’m seeking that out more and more, trying as much as possible to experiment and have fun – coffee needs to be fun”.
With our cups empty, we bring our conversation to an end not too far from where we started. As someone who self-admittedly likes to exercise control, what are the non-negotiables when it comes to Rafael’s daily routine?
As much as I love it, coffee doesn’t quite make the cut. I have, in the past, gone two months without a drop of it, so it’s a luxury – and a luxury I love – but not a necessity.
The only thing that’s really non-negotiable for me is running. It’s not just the physical aspect of it, it’s the mental element too. I know that I’m going to be able to think during that time, even if I’m doing super hard intervals where I need to be really focused on what I’m doing. It allows me to open up certain pathways in my brain and tohse have helped me in my personal life and also in my work, so that’s not going anywhere.
Purveyor of fine cycling apparel, Attaquer, are popping up in North London's Coal Drops Yard between Friday 9th and Sunday 18th July. We'll be working alongside them throughout the week to ensure visitors are able to enjoy exceptional coffee daily.
To celebrate their latest Artist Series collection, Attaquer will be previewing the new release alongside a range of exclusive Attaquer London products. Working with French artist and skateboarder Lucas Beaufort, the full range of kit will be on display each day from 10:00 a.m. and available exclusively ahead of its global launch on 12th July.
As well as a chance to peruse and take items home, visitors will also be able to enjoy a host of events throughout the week. From shop bike rides and beer tasting with Bianca Road Brewery, to an evening with cycling journal, Rouleur, the full event schedule can be found below. Visitors will also be able to pick up one of a limited number of special-release bags of Nicaraguan filter roast, Emilio Gomez.
Beginning with a launch party on Saturday 10th July, join us for a brew, a beer or a conversation inside Unit 55, Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4DQ.
Saturday 10th July: Lucas Beaufort launch party (with drinks, art & giveaways in store) – 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sunday 11th July: Shop Bunch Ride (2 distances and paces, more information to follow).
Thursday 15th July: Late Night Shopping (Bianca Road Beer Tasting in store) – Open until 9:00 p.m.
Friday 16th July: Rouleur Guest Night
Saturday 17th July: Wrap Party —6:00 p.m. 'til late
Sunday 18th July: Shop Survivor Ride — Closing 6:00 p.m.
More information on the Attaquer London Pop-Up can be found here.