With just a few short days left in our 2015 edition of Build-Outs of Summer, we turn our eye to London, where the seasons are something of a charade and it’s gray and rainy for at least half the year, if not more. The global-minded espresso wonks at Allpress Espresso are preparing to open a new facility in the hip Dalston neighborhood, complete with a bespoke custom air roaster shipped from New Zealand, contemporary gear from La Marzocco and Mazzer, and even a reupholstered booth from an old Wimpy Burger. Rain or shine, it’s Build-Out time.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Allpress Espresso is a coffee roaster established in Auckland in 1986. We have roastery cafes in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and most recently Dalston, East London.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our roastery is a converted 1930s joiner’s factory in Dalston, East London. The roastery is divided by a glass wall—on one side we have our custom-built hot air roaster and on the other we have retail coffee counter and cafe with a beautiful open plan kitchen. The working areas of the roastery are designed to be seen—we want you to sit down with a coffee and be able to see all the work that goes into the cup. The roasting team, training room, cupping lab, and tech workshop are all in plain sight.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We are espresso specialists and we source coffees with this in mind. We love coffees with great body, sweetness, and clarity. We source the majority of our coffee from origin, trying to work with the same farms from year to year to secure the coffees that fit our flavour profile and to push for quality. We believe in blending to create a balanced espresso so our single-origin coffees are roasted with filter in mind. Consistency is incredibly important for a thriving cafe and this is something we work towards from our training to our roasts.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
At the heart of our roastery is our custom-built hot air roaster, the ART MK3. During the 90s, Michael Allpress kept discovering exceptional coffee overseas—sweet and clean with a long finish. The coffee was always hot air roasted. We started roasting on modified Neuhaus Neotec and Sivetz hot air roasters in the early 2000s before Allpress developed a bespoke roaster with engineer Mike Scobie. Every element of the ART MK3 has been tailored to our needs, from the lazer-mapped construction down to the touchscreen interface which was coded by Scobie himself. The 70kg fluidised-bed hot air roaster gives us an exceptional level of temperature stability and control resulting in full flavour development. Green beans for our signature Redchurch Blend are stored in four 3.5-tonne silos. We use the same touchscreen panel on the roaster to draw coffee from the silos into a countersunk weigh cell before sending the coffee to the roast chamber via a blower. In the cafe, we are running on a La Marzocco Linea PB, Mazzer Kold grinders and a ModBar for pour-over. Our electricity supply is supplied entirely by solar voltaics on the roof which will be joined by some beehives shortly. Are bees technology?
Bees are certainly technology, yes. What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Allpress’ UK chief, Tony Papas, worked closely with Adam Hyde and Nick von Bromsen of Keepsite, who ran the year-long design and build. It was a priority to bring the building back to the original structure before letting the functionality of the roasting process dictate the use of space. From the silo loading pit at the front of the roastery to the cargo bay at the rear, we have tried to build as much efficiency into the workflow as possible so we can spend more time focussing on the coffee and our customers. The build isn’t finished yet but it feels lived in—the steel support beams of the building have been echoed in the staircases and the roaster’s support frame while many of the surfaces have been left exposed or untreated. The ART roaster was engineered in New Zealand and shipped to London in three containers which meant the foundations and support structure had to be made off-plan. Lots of triple checking. We recruited our friend Dave Danby of Project D Design & Build to take care of the cafe and retail space fit out. Tony is a bit of a chair geek so along with a brace of 50s Conran chairs we have some old booths from a Wimpy Burger which have been beautifully restored by 7 Upholstery. Best seat in the house.
Photos provided by Allpress.