Our globetrotting Build-Outs of Summer series continues today with a new take on a song as old as time. “Foreigner moves to London and opens coffee bar” is a familiar and influential narrative; Flat White‘s opening in 2005 is still reverberating across the London and European coffee scene, perhaps improbably. That Aussie accent you hear across every coffee bar in Berlin? Blame the Antipodeans who brought great coffee to London nearly a decade ago. The modern landscape of coffee in 2014 owes much to a few key influencers from back in those wild days, people whose small decisions became trends, then movements.
But what about those damn Yankees? Americans, by and large, are perfectly content opening businesses in America, catering to other Americans. Maybe that's starting to change; maybe small choices made in the here and now will continue that cycle of reverberation and influence. Out in south London a new cafe is getting set to open called Daily Goods, helmed by an American named Carter Donnell. Mr. Donnell is a veteran of the widely influential Ninth Street Espresso in New York City, and has been running Daily Goods as a small concession stand in a corner of a bicycle shop for the last year. This build-out marks the debut of Daily Goods as a stand-alone cafe.
Is Daily Goods the beginning of an influx of American influence into the London coffee scene? So long as the pound keeps whomping the dollar, we think that's an unlikely trend. But who knows? Those Kiwis and Aussies who influenced a generation of coffee lovers in the UK probably thought the same thing. Trendspotting always contains a bit of punter's folly; for what it's worth, this seems like a Build-Out to watch out for.
As told to Sprudge by Carter Donnell.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your company, and how it all got started?
My name is Carter Donnell. while originally from Nampa, Idaho, I escaped to live in Philadelphia when I was 18. Living in Philly was really just a way for me to get closer to NYC. I took the Chinatown Bus to NYC as often as possible and when I did my first stop was always Ninth Street Espresso on 13th [now Everyman Espresso]. This is where I truly learned of ‘third wave coffee' and fell in love with the whole culture.
When I gave in and just moved to NYC I applied at Ninth Street about 45 times until I was finally given a interview and the job. We had an amazing team back then and thank god they were patient with me because my only experience until then was Starbucks, so the training and time spent on me was long and probably frustrating for then trainers Nick Kirby and Jessica Dixon. Fast forward 3 1/2 years and I am married and living in London. After working at several great coffee shops in London for the next 3 years I got frustrated. I really missed what NYC gave me from the coffee shop: a neighborhood and community.
I decided I needed to take steps to opening my own place and hope to recreate that neighborhood feel. Daily Goods was born as a concession in Kinoko Cycles. I knew it wasn't fully where I wanted my space to be but it was a start. After a great first year in Kinoko cycles I knew it was time to move forward with my original goal of creating a focal point to a community. I knew I wanted to be in Camberwell, South London because this is where I live and spend all my free time. The community here is strong and what I was looking for for Daily Goods, so when 36 Camberwell Church St. had a “for let” sign in the door I jumped at it. And here we are a few months later nearly completion of the build-out and a few weeks from opening!
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
The new space has been a bit of an adventure to say the least. When I saw it for the first time the layout immediately reminded me of the first coffee shop I went to that really left an impression, Stumptown's Downtown Portland location. It is long and skinny and the only way the bar was gonna work in the space was along the right hand wall with seating on the left and in the back. It needed a ton of work, but I thought it was for the best to redo it all and make it mine rather than move into something that was new and all ready to go.
After a few hiccups with deciding on the construction team to help we got some great guys and started to open it up with problem after problem arising. For example, the previous tenants decided to fix a leaky pipe in the ceiling by filling it with concrete, obviously not a good idea. So as the projected 3 week project passed the three week mark a few weeks ago, I can't complain because everyday it's closer to looking like a real shop and I couldn't be happier with how it's turning out.
What's your approach to serving coffee?
I want the space to feel different to people, not like you're on a conveyer belt in a queue, but a place where you have a friendly chat in the morning and start your day. The knowledge will be there ready for them if they want it, but foremost I want friendly, personable service. A place you immediately feel comfortable and wanna come back to. I really want people to understand where the cup of coffee they are drinking originates, but I don't want to push this information down their throats if they just want a nice coffee before catching the bus to work.
I'm hoping to bring a casual vibe to the space. I want to see people sitting around with mug after mug of black coffee chatting, studying, reading the paper, doodling, etc. Basically I want people to have amazing coffee and spend their days with us here in shop.
Any machines, coffees, or special equipment lined up?
To be honest the machine I am most excited about is my Fetco bulk brewer. These are gaining popularity in London finally and I am so happy about this. It's something I have always thought was missing here, it must be the American in me. I can't wait to see chunky diner mugs of black coffee on the bar in the front window.
What's your hopeful target opening month?
If no more surprises happen with the build-out we hope to open July 14.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Definitely. It 100% couldn't have gotten done with out the help of Matthew Wilson-Tate, James Miller, the amazing team of builders, Tomasz, Pawel, and Greg.
Seriously all my friends have helped so much. I certainly couldn't have done it on my own. Ged Palmer has been great with the gold gilding in the window and many thanks to Alex Picard, Josh Checkley and JP Calver for all the design work and advice. Stuart at Workshop Coffee Co. has been an amazing help with everything as well.