Like caffeine-loving bears, the duo behind Craft Coffee have decided to move indoors into a cozy new shop to hibernate for the winter. Instead of expanding their business to include multiple outdoor coffee carts, these Maltby Street fixations have decided to look for a more permanent and sheltered spot to serve their drinks from.
The café ticks all the boxes for modern coffeeshops in London – a fairly minimal, white space; industrial touches with the scaffolding and exposed copper pipes; bare wooden counters neatly organized with brewing paraphernalia. And yet, this doesn’t feel like another “tick the boxes” café, and with good reason. The scaffolding and copper pipes? An homage to the space’s former use as an art gallery, where these features were already present. The white walls and minimal decoration? Brightened by accents in various shades of blue, Craft Coffee’s colour of choice. A lovely hand-drawn poster of the coffee flavor wheel, a limited edition print from Colonna and Smalls, draws attention to itself as the (as of now) only art adorning the walls upstairs. The centerpiece and sleek main attraction in the room is the custom-made, electric-baby-blue La Marzocco Linea. Flowers from Jemimah in the Woods (a fellow Maltby Street trader) sit beautifully in jars of water as the only other jolts of colour in the shop.
The more you look around, the more you see that makes you realize this café has something different to offer. Take a peek out the back door and you’ll be rewarded with a cheerful little covered garden where turquoise chairs sit on a shockingly green faux lawn. Venture downstairs and you’ll find a quiet space with a few small tables and chairs and a half-stocked bookcase. While they don’t plan to offer wifi, they hope people will find plenty to keep them occupied in the books and magazines that others leave behind – a sort of knowledge and entertainment exchange for their customers. (They’ve already jump started the exchange with a few books of their own.)
Between them, Jamie (formerly of Bea’s of Bloomsbury and Notes Coffee) and Emily (formerly of Bea’s of Bloomsbury and Brown’s of Brockley) bring a lot of coffee experience to the table, and will hopefully enjoy their new expanded space in which to show off a bit more of their know-how. They’ve certainly got all the right equipment: the Überboiler, the La Marzocco Linea, the 3M reverse osmosis water system, the fancy new Mahlkönig EK-43. They’ll continue to use Has Bean as their main roaster, but plan to have a weekly rotating roster of guests on both filter and espresso. For now, Craft Coffee will be the only place you can taste brand-new roaster Notes’ coffee (besides the Notes stores themselves) and probably one of the only places you can find coffee from Edinburgh roasters New Town.
At first they won’t be offering food besides the obligatory cakes and pastries (but oh, what mouthwatering cakes they’ll be coming from Bea’s), though it is their hope that one day they might have a kitchen to cook small dishes in.
Talking with Jamie and Emily about the shop, listening to them describe their choices of décor and stock and process of building the space, you can tell this has been a real labour of love. They sat down and designed every bit of it themselves, and instead of hiring contractors to fill out the interior of the shop, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
“Jamie’s dad is a retired woodwork teacher. He has been in here seven days a week helping us,” Emily said.
“We basically did everything but the electrics,” Jamie added, looking around approvingly. “We wouldn’t have been able to afford this place if we hadn’t had help doing the build on our own.”
My goal was to go down to Craft Coffee and take a few photos of the interior, a sneak peek to get people interested in visiting their new space. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the main room while it was relatively uncluttered. I blame Jamie and Emily for being so hospitable, distracting me with tastes of all the different coffees they were considering for the opening week. By the time they really got stuck in to dialing in their espressos on the Linea, the café was a buzz of activity, with Emily’s parents helping to polish up a few last bits, and good friends stopping by to wish them luck and see the space they had worked so hard for.
So I left them to it, putting the final touches on their hard-earned shop. With less than 24 hours to go, it was full tilt ahead. The space they’ve created has all the right elements – it is only waiting to be filled with the final piece of the puzzle, which is of course, customers. If Craft Coffee have ever brightened your morning with a delicious flat white down at Maltby Street, or if you have yet to experience their well-crafted cups of caffeine, please head over to Shoreditch starting today to support them in their new venture.
Find Craft Coffee’s new digs at 68 Sclater St, about halfway between Shoreditch High Street Overground Station and Brick Lane.