There’s a massive event on tonight in London, a two-night international spectacle that’s drawn press and attendees from all around the world. It’s called Despacio, a collaboration between James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) and brothers Stephen and David Dewaele (Soulwax / 2ManyDJs), and it features what’s been billed as one of the best analog, audiophile-grade stereo systems to ever grace a club. We’re talking serious McIntosh power here. This event happens December 19th and 20th at London’s historic Hammersmith Town Hall, and will feature coffee service from London’s Workshop Coffee Co.
This is only the second-ever outing for the sound system, following its debut a few months back at a festival in Manchester. Speaking to NME, Murphy described the soundsystem as “A simple, floor-standing series of giant stacks, comfortably doing full, smooth sound. It’s pretty wide-open, pretty raw. The stacks will be arranged in a circle that people can wander in and out of, literally immersing themselves in sound.” The performance is vinyl only, and the whole experience is avowedly a little different from your average club night. To that end, Murphy & Co. have invited in crack cocktail service from London’s The Clove Club and a coffee bar by Workshop.
Metro has called it “an intimate, immersive – and immaculately designed – antidote to superstar DJ posturing,” which makes the quality coffee angle make more sense. If the goal here is something quite different than Red Bull, then well, certainly building a speciality coffee bar in an historic dance club is a downright natural course of action.
To learn more, we sat down digitally with Tim Styles, director of operations for Workshop.
How did this collaboration come about?
We were involved in the recent MAD Food Symposium in Copenhagen, where James Murphy was DJing and some of the owners and chefs of The Clove Club were in attendance. Both were familiar with us from London, and it was good to meet and hang out with them. When James was bringing the Despacio event to London, he wanted to make sure exceptional food and drink went with it, so he enlisted the help of The Clove Club, and in turn, us.
Tell us about the bar you’re setting up – what gear will it be equipped with? How many staff will run it? Which coffees are you serving?
We’re keeping things really simple, and just serving a straight-up four drink menu; espresso, cappuccino, latte and americano. We’re bringing our Yukro Espresso, from Jimma in Ethiopia, to the event, because we think that aside from its obvious delicious qualities, it walks the line between challenging, satisfying and expressive of region in just the right way.
We’d have liked to push the boat out a little more, but we’re not only space-limited in the venue, but it’s an insane time of year to try to do anything in London, especially when you have an 85-seat cafe (and subsequent Christmas party madness) to look after.
We’ve been very fortunate to continue to have great support from our friends at La Marzocco, Bespoke Water and CoffeeHit, who have helped us set up a 2-grop Linea PB espresso machine, reverse osmosis filtration, and all the usual ancillaries.
Our Head of Production, James Bailey, has been working on a coffee cocktail, alongside Cailean McGregor — the Clove Club’s bar manager – and while I don’t know the specifics on what they’ve turned out, I’m told it’s utilising a high-extraction cold brew of our filter roast Yukro. Given that they plan to serve 1,200 of these drinks per night over three nights, while both managing busy cafes and restaurants during the day, cold brew seemed like the sanest option.
Two staff members per shift, out of our team of 45, will be staffing each service. Our Marylebone store manager, Nico Halliday, has headed up this aspect of the event, again, alongside managing her own store, just off the world’s busiest retail shopping street, at Christmas.
Despacio is billed as “the biggest audiophile soundsystem in history” – how on earth does one’s coffee service keep pace with that, in an historic setting like the Hammersmith Town Hall?
Keep it honest, transparent, simple and fucking awesome.
Anything you’re hoping to hear?
Phil Collins – No Jacket Required, start to finish.
Top photo by Instagram user WillKeena.