Roasting Plant Coffee in London
For those living in North America, Roasting Plant Coffee may not be a particularly new concept. Over in London, though, the innaugrual European outlet has recently opened and we popped along to take a look.
Described as "the world's first ever immersive roastery", we think the "willy wonka" description is a little more relatable:
There are a range of tubes containing green coffee from around the world. During our visit there was the house blend then single origins from Brazil, Guatemala, Sumatra, Kenya, Ethiopia, Peru and finally the contentious Blue Mountain from Jamaica. Are these the finest coffees in the world, hand roasted to be the best they can be? Probably not, but the experience and concept is such a powerful combination of interesting and fun that it's worth a visit even for the most selective of coffee drinkers.
Nearby are similar tubes, but this time containing roasted coffee. In between the two is a mesmerising air roaster where you can watch green coffee dance in the air as it darkens to roasted. It's not clear (on the website) if the bespoke Javabot roasting technology will alter the roast profile depending on the beans. Even if it can, it seems a stretch that it'll roast your custom blend quite right so we'd advise sticking with a single bean/blend. The dance and rattle of the roaster is so fascinating that you'll want to hang around to watch it roast even if you've finished your coffee.
Once you've picked your coffee - or made up your own blend (which, if we're honest, probably won't taste too nice) - you'll hear your choice of beans get sucked up and fly overhead in the curvy transparent pneumatic tubes, dropping it neatly into the bush button grind-and-brew espresso machine.
Whilst we still prefer a lovingly dropped shot of espresso that's been dialled in and adjusted through the day, Roasting Plant is an automation concept to watch. Inevitably technology is going to take on more of a role in coffee shops, but no one quite seems to know to what degree. One to watch, and worth a visit if only of the novelty.