I’ve been told, that years ago, in a time before I even knew caffeine existed, London was a barren wasteland of mediocre coffee. So, I can only imagine how painful it was for the Australians and New Zealanders arriving in the city for the first time.
Thankfully they chose not to accept the dismal state of affairs and subsequently decided to educate Londoners with their own coffee culture from down under.
People seemed to take to it and today there is no shortage of speciality brews with coffee being much more than just a caffeine hit or catch up with friends. It’s a serious business of flavours and roasts and experimental brewing – a task that falls to the coffee roasters.
In London the link between coffee roaster and coffee shop is often much closer with many also being roasters in their own right such as East-end based Climpson and Sons. Tucked away in London Fields (the Hipster corner of Hackney), Climpson and Sons started life as a humble coffee cart on Broadway Market after founder Ian Burgess moved back to the UK after a few years in Australia. He brought with him that touch of coffee culture that we now owe much of London’s speciality coffee scene to.
In 2005 Ian moved to a more permanent location on Broadway Market, taking over an old butchers shop, keeping the name that hung above the door: Climpson and Sons. The final step was buying his own roaster and the rest, as they say is history.
Today they are a well-established roaster as well as a very popular café – especially on Saturday mornings – bringing their carefully curated flavours to the wider coffee-loving London. And for some, like Fix 126 in Shoreditch, Climpson and Sons are trusted with supplying an exclusively roasted blend…just for them.
But how did they become such heavy weights in the coffee roasting world?
Could it be their pioneering attitude towards flavours and techniques?
With a constantly rotating fresh crop of coffee from regions diverse as Ecuador and Rwanda combined with the latest technology that seeks to push the boundaries of brewing methods and extraction, it seems that for Climpson and Sons, coffee is as much a science as it is an art.
Everything is meticulously recorded to get the exact coffee desired which in turn ensures each blend has a distinct and unique character. Take the “Climpson Estate Blend”, for example, which is a pleasant-sounding Butterscotch, Orange Blossom and Milk Chocolate mix, very different from the “Fields V19” which has notes of Apricot, Fudge and Honey.
Because flavour is so important, these coffees will have undergone some rigorous taste testing including a blind “cupping” and feedback from different parties so only the best and most exciting flavours get the Climpson and Sons stamp of approval.
Relationships with the producers and farmers are also very important which is why Climpson and Sons are very careful to pay a fair price, willing to pay more for quality to build trust and transparency, allowing them to come back to the same producers again.
This ethos for sustaining relationships extends beyond business into the wider community, with all food in the café made in-house, using local produce. And despite the clear strive for precision and innovation, the café itself is still friendly and vibrant, bustling with the dog walkers, trendy young couples and parents bouncing babies on their knees all sharing that satisfying sip of really great coffee. Because complexities aside – that’s the real deal breaker here and Climpson and Sons seemed to have found the perfect formula.