From Vietnam to Philadelphia to London—that's a typical week here on the Build-Outs of Coffee, our globe-spanning international feature series focusing on new cafes recently opened or under construction. Today we're in London checking out a story whose narrative overtones evoke the genesis of the city's specialty coffee boom: namely, the influence of Australians, a cheeky, plucky, entrepreneurial lot who enjoy opening coffee bars around the world. Australia's influence on London's cafe culture is the stuff of legend, and legends are lessons. They ring with truths. Let's check out this new spot, Dear Coco Street Coffee, a short walk from Kew Bridge and the incredible Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
As told to Sprudge by Anthony Duckworth.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We are a street coffee business run by an Aussie surfer living in London. We serve Australian specialty coffee, whole beans, ground single origin, bakes, and little sweet shop from a beautifully converted Piaggio Ape along the River Thames.
Street coffee on the beach somewhere was my retirement plan, but the pandemic made me chase my dreams with urgency. So Dear Coco Street Coffee was born… 20 years earlier than expected.
Dear Coco is not your traditional mobile coffee van or food truck. Its goal is to create a brick and mortar cafe experience on the street. The knowledge, products and equipment reflect a boutique London coffee bar. As a result, the experience stops locals and river walkers in their tracks eager to experience something unique and shareable.
The street coffee business is an expansion of my wife Emma’s business. Emma is a published cookbook author, recipe developer, and food photographer. Producing bakes for Dear Coco is the first time the general public can purchase Emma’s stunning baked goods. 40 items are lovingly baked each day, and when they’re gone they’re gone.
We have three daughters, with the business named after our five year old daughter, Coco. The two older girls can have fun helping on certain aspects of the business, but Coco often gets left behind given the age gap. So to balance the scales Coco got naming rights to the business.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We imported the Piaggio from Italy and had it converted into a beautifully styled and functional street coffee venue that befits the beauty of the River Thames. We wanted to add something special to the riverside experience, rather than simply take from it.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We didn’t want to drive around different locations like some coffee vans. Just like a brick and mortar coffee bar, we wanted to put roots down and embed ourselves in the community.
We not only surround ourselves with some great minds in UK coffee to learn, but worked hard to include a La Marzocco using a state of the art power source in the Piaggio to produce the best street coffee humanly possible.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We concealed a Hyundai Motorhome HY3500RVi Generator behind the roadside door so we could power a La Marzocco Linea Mini with low noise and low emissions. We use a Victoria Arduino Mythos One grinder, Fellow Stagg EKG kettle, and concealed an onboard 70L filtered water tank under the counter top.
How is your project considering sustainability?
We want to operate with a light touch. We service reusable cups, use recycled, biodegradable disposables… and guilt customers into not taking a lid where humanly possible!
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We're open! We launched on 8 May 2021.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Kirby and team at The Roasting Party in Winchester, UK are incredible. Ben Brooker at La Marzocco UK ingeniously swapped the steam wand and hot water spout on our Linea Mini so it worked for our customer journey. My wife and Ru-Yan & Miguel are the best bakers in the business!
Yours in coffee, Anthony (Coco's dad!)