It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since we opened our Fitzrovia Coffeebar.
In that time we’ve released over 100 coffees (roasting over 175,000 kilos in the process).
We’ve seen two parts of the business move from their original homes. Our original Maylebone Coffeebar decamped a few metres from its first location on Wigmore Street to new digs in St. Chrstopher’s Place. Our Roastery packed up its cupping spoons and headed further east from Clerkenwell to a dedicated and infinitely larger space in Bethnal Green. These changes, and numerous others in between, have kept us busy.
As have plans for our latest opening.
At the beginning of June, we’ll be dialling in our coffees for the first time at our fourth coffeebar and fifth location: Workshop Coffee at White Collar Factory.
Located on Old Street roundabout, the project is billed as one of the most ambitious and progressive workspaces in London and we’ll be serving drinks from a bar -- or bars -- to match. Incorporating two coffeebars, the first will be located on the ground floor of the space, serving delicious coffee to the public throughout the working week. A six-metre-long, basalt-topped bar will take pride of place in the 1,300 sq. ft. coffeebar area. Complemented by a beautifully tactile tiled bar front, it will be adorned with much of the machinery our regulars have come to know so well: a 3-group La Marzocco Linea PB and Nuova Simonelli Mythos 1 Grinders.
The second bar will located on the buildings 17th floor, serving the buildings tenants and offering an incredible view of London's skyline from its terrace (and 150m running track).
Taking a slightly different approach to filter coffee service, we’ll continue to serve two filters from our rotating, seasonal range at any one time. However, both will be brewed using our Fetco batch brewers.
With the space taking inspiration from the work of self-taught French architect and designer, Jean Prouvé, references will be found throughout the building, from its factory-like finish, to the green colour palette that runs throughout and even the coffeebar seating, which will provide space for more than 40 to enjoy the best coffee possible.
There’s lots to be done between now and then, but we’re looking forward to sharing more information with you in the coming weeks.
Considering taking the first step in your career in coffee? Or thinking of taking the next? With a new location comes a need for more motivated team members looking to learn, develop and progress. Find out more on how to join us here.
A Pretty Typical Scenario:
A customer enjoys a cup of our coffee.
They ask the barista about the beans used to make the cup.
To recreate the experience at home or work, they decide to buy a bag.
When paying for the bag they query - “It’s ground, right?”.
Until now we've been able to provide the customer with two options:
1. We grind the beans to suit their preferred brew method. I don’t need to go into detail explaining why this is far from ideal, but suffice to say this is like having your bottle of wine opened in store.
2. We broach the subject of grinding at home. Previously stocking only the Porlex Hand Grinder, we have divided the crowd. There are those who relish the tactile and portable nature of hand grinding. Others, less so.
But rejoice! The Wilfa is here - an electric grinder with quality burrs and a small footprint, giving fantastic results without great expense or (somewhat physical) effort, and now we're pleased to announce the new and improved version, the CGWS-130B!
Wilfa’s newest model comes in a very cool ‘Batman’ matte black casing, and is fitted with a new DC motor that boasts higher torque but fewer RPMs than its predecessor. This means you’ll be able to grind dense and complex coffees with ease, preserving volatile aromatics during the grinding process as less heat is generated by the slower burrs.
The chamber is designed to hold up to 250g, dosing out your grounds by use of the timer. We always find it better to weigh your dose before adding it to the grinder. The Wilfa retains very little coffee around the burrs (roughly 0.2g with each dose); weighing each time means your ground dose will be more accurate and the coffee stays fresher in its resealable bag.
We've spent a fair bit of time experimenting with the grinder and thought it prudent to share our findings with you, the main being the range of grind sizes proffered by the Wilfa is pretty wide and could be a little misleading.
Here are some rough grind settings you should start with for the various brew methods you might use to make coffee at home.
The window you should be grinding in is much, much narrower than the settings on the dial suggest.
From left to right (coarsest to finest) the dial reads OFF, STEAP [sic], FRENCH PRESS, FILTER, AEROPRESS, MOCCA. The Steep, French Press and Filter settings are very coarse. You could potentially use the Filter range of settings for brewing 1L plus in a large Chemex, or something equally slow draining, but generally for our style of coffee we're looking squarely at the Aeropress range on the dial.
Basically, you want to see some part of the word "AEROPRESS” on the dial, or you're likely too coarse or too fine for best results with normal filter methods. Treat these suggestions as jumping off points, adjusting as necessary to dial in the coffee to your taste.
Slide the grind setting to OFF, lift the hopper out and the top burr comes out easily. As mentioned before, the grinder retains very little coffee so a soft bristled brush is all you need to loosen spent grounds. It doesn't take much to securely lock it in again. Simply align the burrs and slot them back into place.
To make the prospect even more attractive, you can now group the Wilfa Grinder together with some of the other pieces from our hardware range in the form of our Brew Bundles. As well as providing you everything need to create the perfect cup of coffee in almost every eventuality, you score a rather substantial saving in the process.
If you relish the engagement and tactile natural of manual pour over coffee then this is the bundle for you (includes a 2 Cup V60, 100 Filter Papers, Salter Scale, Glass Decanter, Wilfa Grinder and a 250g bag fresh coffee: £125).
If you just want to press a couple of buttons and brew up to six cups in a few short minutes then this is the bundle for you (includes the Technivorm MoccaMaster, Wilfa Grinder, Gram Scales and a 250g bag fresh coffee: £240).
In April of this year, we were handed the keys to 3,500 square foot of expansive, empty space in and amongst the art galleries on the quiet, cobbled road of Vyner Street, East London. As with any major project, the work to get us to that point began long before, but in the seven months since, we've been hard at work. In every corner of the business, we've been making some exciting advancements, from our production department, to changes to our stores and the refinement of the Workshop Coffee brand itself.
First, the Workshop Coffee Roastery. Our new space affords us two important developments in our quality-driven approach: resource and time.
The installation of a brand new 25kg Probat has an immediate effect on our capacity, allowing us to roast larger batches whilst continuing to carefully monitor our output through the ever-reliable Cropster. We've also built a climate-controlled storage room that will allow us to dictate the temperature at which our coffee is stored, diminishing the impact of yet another difficult-to-control variable that has a considerable impact on taste and flavour. Meanwhile, our still new and somewhat unfamiliar ColourTrack laser analysis unit that sits across the room from our roaster provides us another window into better understanding the numerous elements and variables that help us roast the best coffee possible.
The benefits of all of this are already beginning to be seen in the area we are going to be spending even more time on than we currently do: the cupping table. With greater levels of capacity and resource come increased opportunities to cup, taste, evaluate and continue improving every coffee we roast in the space. A renewed focus on this crucial point in our feedback loop can only mean greater consistency in our roasting process and we're excited to showcase the results in the coming weeks and months.
Having had numerous discussions with our wholesale partners, our customers and members of our own team, we've also developed a new, bespoke coffee bag.
We've scrutinised everything, from their shape and height to the design of the label that adorns them, ensuring quality at every stage and level.
The custom-made, resealable bags -- available in all of our stores and online from today -- continue to allow for ongoing freshness and we've sought to unpack the details of each coffee into a clear and approachable grid system to ensure continued quality of information.
Most excitingly, we've also changed our bag size. A switch to our 250g bags has allowed us to create a product that, for 1- and 2-bag orders, is capable of fitting through almost every conveivable letterbox. That means that our online and subscription customers can now expect to arrive home to our freshly roasted coffee ready and waiting for them to enjoy.
As you'll have no doubt already noticed, in the process of improving our packaging we've also taken the opportunity to refine our brand. From today, a new bold and distinctive 'W' will feature on each and every one of our coffee bags. We've also been working over the weekend to bring that new look to our website and into our stores.
In short, a number of things have changed. Our new look will manifest itself in the bigger ways we've already outlined and in the countless details of our everyday operations: signage, aprons, takeaway cups, to name but a few. And, as is always the way with projects such as these, things will continue to adapt and iterate over time as we acquire feedback and learn lessons along the way.
However, fundamentally, nothing has changed. We continue to source, roast and brew the cleanest, sweetest, freshest coffee possible and these advances will allow us to do that better than we ever have.
It's unlikely that you need any reminders about the fact that Christmas is just one short week away (though our Subscriptions really do make a fantastic gift), but in case you were coming to visit one of our stores during the holiday period, please know we'll be open the following hours:Clerkenwell Cafe
Back in August of 2011 we took a small shopfront in London’s West End and turned it into the city’s furthest westerly outpost of a burgeoning quality coffee scene — at the time almost completely focused around the inner East.
Just metres from the mayhem and clatter of Oxford Street, with its relentless crush of tourists, shoppers and the glaring gaudiness of high street and multi-national brands we dedicated ourselves to being a refuge from the noise and chaos, sharing great coffee, simple food and a genuine and humble hospitality.
Bringing great coffee to the neighbourhood was gladly welcomed by the local office community, and we’ve been constantly thanked for the brief respite and recharge we provide those visiting the nearby department stores. Wigmore Street, for these last years, has played host to our first coffeebar as well as our first head office, and has served us well as our home outside Clerkenwell.
But we’ve always known we were on borrowed time.
With property redevelopment being what it is in Central London, our lease has been on a short rolling renewal for some time. A few weeks ago we finally received word that plans for the property we occupy were moving ahead, and that it was time for us to move on. To that end, in early January we’ll be closing the doors to our Marylebone Coffeebar for the final time.
But, fear not. We’re not closing for long, we’re moving. And we’re not moving far, at that.
From the end of January, we’ll be delighted to open the doors on the next chapter of our West End operations, as we unveil our newest location at 1 Barrett Street, W1U 1AX — just 150 metres away from our Marylebone Coffeebar, further inside St. Christopher’s Place.
Working again with Ink Associates on design and construction, and this time with a little more space to play with, we’ll be updating and expanding what we’ve already established in the neighbourhood.
A five-metre long zinc-topped bar and extended glass food cabinet, combined with banquette and perch bar seating will set the stage for an expansion into a wider, more considered food offering, while the relocation of our espresso brewing machinery from Wigmore Street will ensure the continued service of the best coffee possible.
Added to our repertoire will be the larger scale Fetco batch brewed coffee that is proving so successful in our Holborn and Fitzrovia locations, allowing our guests the option to enjoy freshly-brewed coffee, served quickly and conveniently.
The very same team of Baristas and Bar Backs that you’ve gotten to know at our original location will be in place to welcome and look after you in Barrett Street.
As we begin construction work over the next few days it’s with great pride that we look back at our original West End experiment, and to the countless guests we’ve had the privilege of meeting, serving and getting to know. While the rest of the city readies itself to wind down for the Christmas break, we’re gearing up to build, polish and launch our latest venture, and to continue to share with the people of the West End — whether office workers, tourists or weary shoppers — what we consider to be the best coffee possible.
To opportunities new, and to safe and happy holidays for us all,
- Workshop Coffee Co.
We are really excited to announce that we will be bringing a little slice of Workshop Coffee to Northern Ireland next week. Working in conjunction with our friends at Established Coffee in Belfast and Lost & Found in Coleraine, we will be hosting two evenings of tastings. This is a great chance to try some Workshop Coffee and hear a little bit more about us and what we do first hand.
The focus of the evenings will be on our Kenyan selection. We can’t tell you all the details right now, but we will have three different Kenyan coffees, including the outstanding Githiga AA from Murang’a.
Hope to see you there!
On the evening of September 4th we’re opening up our Holborn Coffeebar for a showcase of Kenyan coffee, and you’re invited.
For many of us in the industry, Kenya constitutes the most exciting seasonal fresh crop coffee arrival each year, and on this evening Tim Williams (our Director of Operations and green coffee buyer) is going to be providing an insight into how we go about finding the small handful of Kenyan coffees that make up our range each season.
We are continually aiming to improve every aspect of the coffee we serve - constantly in pursuit of the best coffee possible - and a fundamental part of that is the way we source coffees. We dedicate a great amount of time and effort to visiting producing countries, not only to secure the best coffee possible, but also so we know more about the farms and producers we work with, to understand their challenges, and to better tell the stories behind each and every coffee.
Alongside an introduction to coffee production in Kenya, and the intricacies (and rigours) of narrowing thousands upon thousands of samples down to just the very few best lots, we’ll be tasting fresh crop Kenyan coffee - Githiga AA and Gikirima AA from our own range, as well as Mutheka AA from Tim Wendelboe and Gathaithi AA from The Tate.
Even the faintest interest in specialty coffee, or simply a curiosity about how quality coffee is grown, harvested and exported to arrive in European cups, is all the qualification you need to attend. We look forward to telling some of these stories in person, tasting some of the best coffee available anywhere in the world, and hope you will join us for this exciting insight into Kenyan coffee.
All ticket proceeds will be donated to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, who work tirelessly to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned infant elephants and rhinos.
It was about this time last year that four of us here were getting excited; one of us was having a baby, and the other three were off to the MAD Food Symposium in Denmark. Fast forward twelve months and the excitement swells a-new; one of us baby-proofing their apartment against London’s most curious crawler, and the other three are packing their bags again.
This year, James, Richard and Sara (replacing Nico, who has moved on to pastures new) will be taking themselves and our coffee to Copenhagen, to represent Workshop Coffee Co. by serving around the 600 attendees of what is without doubt the greatest symposium, anywhere.
Last year’s event saw Dario Cecchini take to the stage, butchering a whole pig that hung from an overhead beam while AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells’ resonated through the marquis. After passionately explaining the importance of a cultural and respectful approach to the meat we eat (all of it, not just the ‘nice’ bits) and the dying craft of the butcher Dario closed with a spine-chilling recital from Dante’s ‘Inferno', and accepted an uproarious, room-shaking applause.
This was only the opening act.
For this year’s event the curators of the coffee service, Tim Wendelboe and Jens Nørgaard, requested coffee sample submissions from across the world, in an effort to identify the very best coffees from the very best roasters that they could. Amongst a great many others, and some incredibly tough competition, we submitted two espresso and two filter coffees for judging in Oslo and waited for what is always very honest feedback.
A few weeks later I was in a dilapidated Land Cruiser, bouncing around on horrible dirt roads of the Kibuye region of Rwanda when the email came through to say that our coffees had scored very well in the blind tastings; well enough, in fact, to be offered one of just four Gold Sponsor positions at MAD 2014. To say I was pleased doesn't really get to the heart of the matter; for me, it's the kind of evaluation-by-one's-peers that is a real test of the efforts that we put in to our coffee, day in and day out. And I was elated by the result.
And so, as the end of August draws near, and my colleagues are busily and excitedly preparing for what will undoubtedly be one of the best weekends of their year, I’m busily measuring for and installing baby gates on the stairs at home, all the while incredibly proud of the people that I get to work alongside.
We usually put a good deal of the attention onto the producers, the exporters and the importers we work with, who all handle our coffee from tree to port, but this time I'm more specifically interested in throwing the praise behind the roasters, the cuppers, the packers and the baristas we have on our team, who have all focused their attention on the best coffee possible, and are being recognised and rewarded for that care.
They deserve it.
We’ll be serving Githiga AA, Kenya and Finca Tamana Espresso, Colombia at the MAD Food Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark August 24th and 25th, alongside fellow Gold Sponsors Tim Wendelboe, Drop Coffee Roasters and Koppi, and Silver Sponsors Mecca, Phil & Sebastian, Square Mile Coffee, The Coffee Collective, 5 Elephants and Da Matteo.