Just around the river bend from the London Coffee Festival and outside of Christ Church Spitafields, the team at HasBean has opened a four-day pop-up market. Deep underground, in what was formally a public toilet turned nightclub turned restaurant, the space is now filled with coffee goods, brewing devices, espressos, and cheeky ice cream with coffee competition inspired toppings.
HasBean got its start as a cafe in Stafford (in the Midlands region) from 2000-2003, and has helped pioneer coffee culture and sales in the online space ever since, working with an international network of wholesale accounts along the way. This marks the company's second London pop-up experience, following last year's pour-over only [H]AND bar inside Uniqlo. 2018 marks the first time the company has built a cafe all their own.
Stephen Leighton and Co. brought 18 coffees for the pop-up with at least four different ways to enjoy them: as pour-over at their hand-drip station, as an ice cream sundae, a self-serve “In My Mug” station with a La Marzocco Linea Mini, and a full-service espresso bar. Among those brewing coffee is none other than World Barista Champion Dale Harris, pulling shots off a Modbar station in the back.
The pour-over zone is branded as [H]AND, greeting visitors as they walk down the steps just to the left. HasBean's blog describes it as “a place where you can sit back and relax whilst you taste, whether it’s a single cup of something lovely or a tasting flight of all three of the day’s coffees.” You can check out the day's offerings on their Instagram @madebyhandcoffee.
The In My Mug area highlights the company's subscription service and video-cast and gives folks a chance to pull shots on a shiny red Linea Mini espresso machine.
Like the In My Mug self-service zone, the ice-cream station is also a hands-on experience. “That's half the fun,” Leighton tells us. Pete Williams helped translate three competition signature beverages to the medium of sundae. House-made syrups of oolong tea, fermented red plum, and elderflower gel are available for squeezing with orange milk meringues, chocolate soil, and blackcurrant Turkish delights on offer for toppings. An espresso finishing powder is available to give the whole thing a kick.
Along the wall, the pop-up offers a selection of brewing devices, books, and vessels. “We wanted to create a market-like setting,” explains Leighton.
Along with two six-top tables, the space also has a comfortable living room chill-zone with trophies on display from various competitions over the years and perhaps my favorite piece: an enormous red HasBean bean bag chair.
When asked if Leighton ever considers opening another permanent brick-and-mortar cafe, he says it's something they think about often. If it happens, he assures us, “we'll do something unusual with it.”
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.