When there are so many great independent cafés in Brighton why would anyone bother with Starbucks – a company that resolutely refuses to support their own austerity-suffering customers by paying their fair share of tax? We can only assume that it’s option paralysis – people just don’t know where to start. So we asked Alex Evans, author of The Independent Coffee Book, a man who really knows his beans. Here are six recommendations from him, to see you straight. Just don’t ask for a Venti.
Inspired by several of London’s premier cafés, with its pared back design and consistently great offerings, 33 was one of the very first cafés in Brighton to take on the mantle of speciality coffee purveyors and have shouldered that responsibility admirably ever since. Co-owner Taras is as friendly and knowledgeable a head barista as you’ll find and has recently added Blake by Has Bean as a guest espresso alongside the long standing Monmouth blend. This minimalist café rightly continues to crop up on the radar of those who know and love their coffee.
St. George’s Rd
A café built on its owners’ love of coffee, Ground serves up the best espresso and teas in the east of Brighton. For this reason it can get pretty busy at lunchtimes but fear not – the baristas here are amongst the best in the city and turn out drinks of a consistently high calibre. A tranquil space, good tunes, tasty sandwiches, fine teas and with a healthy ethos towards all of the coffee and produce they offer – it’s everything a café should be.
Small Batch Coffee Co.
Currently the newest and most stylish of Small Batch’s growing number of locations, the Jubilee Street café – housed on the ground floor of My Hotel in the centre of the North Laine – is the first in the city to offer a syphon bar, so if you’re into the theatre and spectacle of brewed coffee then this is the place for you. Their coffee offering is changed regularly to showcase new micro-lots and single origins from around the world. Look out for a new Small Batch opening at Seven Dials very soon.
You won’t find another coffee shop like this anywhere. Marwood represents many of the more positive elements that Brighton is noted for, with a strong community feel and creative lean that has developed over the three years since it first opened its doors. The space is a mash-up of humourous, donated or found items which lend the café an ever-changing personal history that can’t be replicated. Now also serving a range of substantial breakfast and lunch options to go with the coffee and ‘life changing cake’, Marwood is as friendly and jovial a café as you’re ever likely to find.
Serving organic Monmouth espresso and a selection of some of the very best home-made cakes and savouries anywhere in the city, Mr Wolfe is a relative newcomer to Brighton’s coffee scene but you wouldn’t know it. Owners Travis and Kat are Melbournites with a keen eye for beautiful design and the finer details, skills which really shine through in this stylish, diminutive coffee shop. Away from the crowds of Churchill Square or the abysmal café chains on Western Road, this is a haven of calm that has fast become a must-visit for locals and coffee tourists alike.
St. James’s St
The incumbent Redroaster, now in its 13th year, is Brighton’s longest running speciality coffee shop and whilst it’s not the prettiest café space in the city, its popularity shows no sign of abating. This is due in no small part to the fine list of coffees on sale, often featuring Cup Of Excellence lots which are hand roasted at their roastery in Kemptown. A mainstay of the city’s café culture, Redroaster also carries the flag for Brighton’s growing number of fiercely independent coffee shops, having stared down the much maligned Starbucks across St. James’s street for some time. Long may it continue.
A new edition of the Independent Coffee Book: Brighton & Hove is coming very soon. See vespertinepress.co.uk for their full list of titles.
Words by Alex Evans
Photos by Victor Frankowski
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