Roundup of the new coffee shops catching our attention and the trends shaping the industry
Coffee businesses are opening in city centres, again. The late summer and autumn saw a rush of new openings as proprietors prepared for people returning to the office.
Many of these new establishments are from established coffee operators. Over 2021 city landlords have offered compelling rent packages to known proprietors as part of their strategy to encourage office workers back into town – a good coffee shop is now a baseline requirement for many.
Plus, many of these multi-site coffee companies are looking to expand with the remaining cash from the various covid grants, schemes and loans. With deals still being done and fit outs underway, anticipate more central city openings over the coming months.
Top hats in Piccadilly
The Gentlemen Baristas open their tenth site as their new flagship coffee house on London’s Piccadilly. The location benefits from both local office workers and from being a tourist destination. At over 160 sqm it’s a bold next step in a prestigious location for the brand that started on Borough backstreet.
Their interiors have evolved in recent years to become more refined – and with The Ritz and Fortnum & Mason among their neighbours, they well as might. But the new shop retains their signature GBs relaxed feel. Trilbies, caps and even beanies are welcome.
The Gentlemen Baristas
Bit of a looker
This good-looking espresso-forward site from WatchHouse uses their signature, tasteful material palette in a compact space. A Slayer Steam LPx sits on a demi-bullnose marble counter and there’s a carefully cantilevered wooden bench seat for those who wish to contemplate.
This is the first espresso bar from the group since their original Bermondsey Street store. Espresso bars are a common format in The City where grab-and-go is the norm (most people already have desk space and access to meeting rooms) and speed of service is of the essence (because, you know, time is money). Expect the regulars here to be watching the clock.
Housed within the new 100 Liverpool Street building, this light and airy cafe has been developed to offer tenants with space to relax, meet and host events. As well as espresso from Assembly, BloomsYard serve wine and beer, so the people working here will have little need to venture farther afield.
This is the second site from BloomsYard, who opened last year in Watford. Their decorative surfaces and coloured interiors also mark another emerging trend. Until recently, many coffee shops have been designed with traditional English shop references or in a minimal, international style (the above two openings are good examples). BloomsYard fits within a growing number of shops offering a more playful aesthetic in a signal that specialty coffee is continuing to blossom.
100 Liverpool Street
The biggest energy in the industry this decade is found in the regions. It was already true that some of the most exciting new openings before covid were outside of London, but events of the last 18 months have hastened the shift.
Often benefiting from more competitive rents and lower wage costs, many coffee shops can still charge ‘London prices’ for a flat white. This gives coffee businesses additional opportunity to try new and interesting propositions.
Delivered in one piece
Over lockdown, Marmaduke’s took on the additional task of converting a former suburban Royal Mail sorting office into their third site, complete with bakery. The Sorting Office kitchen serves breakfast, brunch and lunch, making the groups three sites more akin to antipodean cafes than a typical UK coffee shop or restaurant. The light-filled, open-plan dining room houses an open kitchen and offers views into the bakery.
It’s worth mentioning that this format is more-readily possible with out-of-London rent structures and planning requirements – and is arguably closer to what coffee drinkers actually want. If Marmaduke’s Sorting Office is a success, and there is every reason to believe it will be, expect more cafes to be delivered across the regions.
846 Ecclesall Road
Oxfordshire retail park Bicester Village is one of the UK’s key tourist destinations and is purportedly the second most visited attraction for Chinese tourists – after Buckingham Palace. What starting as outlet shopping has developed to a market-town of special make-ups from the wide range of designer brands including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood & Burberry.
London Grade Coffee open their first store at the village’s entrance in a pared-back fit out with a Black Eagle on the counter. With one of the highest spend per area of any retail district in the world, LGC is both reaching a well-heeled audience and keeping them energised for more shopping.
London Grade Coffee
This is the second site from The Bristol Loaf, a bakery business that opened a mini-market concept with a greengrocer, cheesemonger and wine shop in their cafe / bakery space in Bedminster, Bristol late 2020.
Their classy new cafe offers all-day dining with a natural wine bar in the grade II listed Bristol Beacon. Their sites might be multifaceted, but there’s a distinct focus on the coffee. At the Beacon they’re pulling shots on a Modbar with coffee from local roasters Extract.
The Bristol Loaf
How can you differentiate yourself from your local competitors? For these coffee businesses fully embracing a tribe of coffee drinkers is the strategy. These new propositions appeal to consumers at the intersection of multiple interests.
Their recent rise is the surest sign specialty coffee has moved so far in the mainstream that coffee drinkers can be further segmented. And as they’re typically trendy, hyper-niche stores are popping up in residential neighbourhoods where customers are likely to have shared values and common interests.
Upping the tempo
With the world of work continuing to change Frequency have opened a new multi-purpose site in Angel, not too far from their first in Kings Cross. Both locations are mixed use, combining a coffee shop with short-let office space. But the Angel site also has the bonus of a cocktail bar.
Building multi-purpose and/or all-day proposition opens up new revenue streams for coffee companies, but can be tricky to implement as each aspect has its own distinct operational demands. It’s seems like Frequency is finding the right note.
13 Camden Passage
Beauty is the judgement of the eye
With splashes of vibrant pastels and a flamingo pink Eagle One adorning a mint green corrugated counter, Romeo and Juliet’s is a new dog-lovers coffee shop to the north of Hampstead Heath. In no way normcore, it embraces florals, cute dogs and moments of sweet indulgence.
Clearly a labour of love, we’re anticipating more coffee concepts that place the proprietor’s interests at the forefront and create Instagrammable moments for their local community.
Romeo & Juliets
5 Lyttelton Road
Hampstead Garden Suburb