03 June 2016

The Caffeine Chronicles: Ozone Coffee Roasters (Update)

I first visited Ozone, a coffee roastery and cafe near Old Street, back in 2012. I've been back a few times since then and enjoyed Ozone coffee in numerous other London cafes but somehow, I had never gone there for brunch — a grievous error that I was determined to correct over the bank holiday weekend.

It was almost 1.30 pm by the time I reached Ozone's Leonard Street home as I had had to work in the morning. The good news, though, was twofold: first, I had worked up a good appetite for brunch and second, the brunch queue wasn't too long. The cafe is light and airy with high ceilings, broad windows, exposed-brick walls and hardwood floors. There are a dozen or so seats at the front, next to the window and opposite the stylish brew bar.

Towards the back, there are a few booths and some seats at the counter that surrounds the open kitchen. You can also sit downstairs next to the roaster, which was roasting up a delicious-smelling storm during my visit.

The first seat I was offered was downstairs, but I waited a little longer for a seat at the counter instead. I like watching the chefs at work while I'm eating, but the only problem with sitting by the kitchen at Ozone is that you see the chefs preparing so many delicious-looking brunch dishes, you start to have brunch doubts and regrets. Yes, the struggle is real.

My coffee choice was easy: I knew I wanted to try the single-origin Rwandan Kamiro coffee, which is brewed in an Aeropress (£4). Three other single-origin filters were on offer, including a Tanzanian cold brew, and they were also serving two espresso blends and a single origin. The menu also included a few juices, wines and cocktails but in all honesty, I didn't get that far.

The question of what to eat was a little trickier because so many of the dishes sounded rather good. For example, the eggs Benny on bubble and squeak (£11.90) was very tempting, as was the chicken bun with kimchi (£11.50). Unusually for a brunch spot, especially an antipodean one, there was no avocado anywhere on the menu — smashed or otherwise. In the end, I made a controversial decision and ordered a sweet dish. I tend to prefer savoury brunch dishes, partly owing to my love of avocado, eggs and bacon and partly because a savoury main course leaves open the option for a sweet pudding. However, the buttermilk pancake with rhubarb ginger beer compĂ´te, labneh, blood orange curd, rapeseeds and pistachio (£10.50) was too creative to miss.

My coffee arrived promptly and was very well prepared, the warm, berry notes of the Kamiro coffee coming through perfectly. The pancake soon followed and although it was slightly smaller than I was expecting (add the side of bacon if you are particularly hungry), it was about the right size for me. I hadn't known that labneh was Greek yoghurt and for a second, thought that I had been gifted a bonus poached egg. The labneh worked much better with the other ingredients, though, and the whole dish was delicious with contrasting sweet, sharp and sour flavours and crunchy, soft and smooth sensations.

I didn't have room for pudding, but I did manage a single-origin macchiato (£2.50) with a fruity Guatemalan coffee. I had forgotten that Ozone doesn't do latte art on macchiatos, so I was a little envious of the etchings on my neighbour's flat white, but my coffee tasted so good that it was hard to mind much.

As I left, the roaster had started up again so I watched the roast for a few moments, inhaling that wonderful coffee scent. I also walked along the brew bar to see whether I could be tempted by any of the sweet treats, but they all looked a little rich. I did spot the avocado, though (I knew it had to be there somewhere!).

Ozone Coffee Roasters. 11 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4AQ (Tube: Old Street). Website. Twitter. My 2012 review.

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