28 August 2018

Curve Roasters and Other Adventures in Margate Speciality Coffee

On an off-peak day return from London, you can reach Curve Roasters' Margate Storeroom a few minutes before noon if all goes to plan. Even on the high-speed line, it takes about an hour and a half to reach the seaside town from St Pancras, but it's then just a ten-minute walk along the sea front to reach Curve's flagship coffee shop.

I first came across Curve in Paris last year, and was then very happy to meet Jon and Teresa at their pop up a little closer to home at Nape in Camberwell. I had been wanting to visit the mothership, on the north coast of Kent, ever since and a rare Friday off work in the UK represented the perfect opportunity.

The Storeroom is located in the Printworks, a Victorian building on Union Row — once home to the Thanet Gazette, and now a creative hub. I climb up the stairs and walk into the café — there are also a few seats on the patio, which are perfect for sunny days. The café is bright and airy with bright pops of colourful art and plenty of foliage. It's a welcoming place too — unfortunately, I manage to miss Jon and Teresa but the baristas I meet in the Storeroom are friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.

The coffee menu is so extensive that I miss the tasting flight option (split shot espresso and cortado, and a batch-brew filter coffee) until it is too late. Instead, I weigh up the filter coffee options, opting in the end for the Ethiopian Biftu Gudino, brewed through the Clever Dripper. There is another Ethiopian, the Mormora, also available as a hand-brewed filter coffee and a Guatemalan on batch-brew.

The coffee arrives promptly and is very well brewed, with subtle honeysuckle and pineapple notes coming through nicely. I contemplate the brunch menu and the sweet treats (some banana bread has just come out of the oven) but it's still a little too early and I decide to have a 'barista's lunch' and order another coffee instead. There are two espressos on the menu and this time, I try the Mormora as a piccolo, which tastes wonderful and which is pleasingly proportioned. I can't leave empty-handed, so I buy a bag of filter-roasted Mormora beans, which have been tasting fantastic brewed through my Kalita Wave dripper at home. All in all, the Curve Storeroom is one of my favourite UK coffee shops of the year so far.

I have other stops on my Margate speciality coffee itinerary and so after settling up, I walk ten minutes to the east to the Cliftonville neighbourhood, where I visit Cliffs, a coffee shop where you can also buy LPs, have a haircut or take a yoga class. By this point, I am in the market for brunch and order the poached eggs and avocado on toast (the kimchi grilled cheese sarnie also sounds fab).

The coffee here is from Curve too — in fact, it's roasted at the back of Cliffs — and I order a flat white with a Colombian Palmitas espresso. While I wait for my coffee and food to arrive, I browse some of the records — but let's face it, I barely have a way to play even CDs at home... My flat white tastes great and comes with some fine latte art. It pairs nicely with the harissa- and seed-topped avocado toast. After I've finished, I sit for a while soaking up the laid-back, family-friendly Friday afternoon atmosphere. The spacious café is a lovely place to hang out.

A few blocks along the Northdown Road, back in the direction of the city centre, Mar Mar may well be the most verdant indoor coffee shop I've ever visited. Mar Mar is also a plant shop and sipping a coffee here is almost like being in the middle of a jungle — a coastal one, with excellent décor. The mirrored Victoria Arduino picks up even more of the foliage. I order a macchiato and a chocolate coconut flapjack, which I enjoy sitting in the window seat. I resist the temptation to buy all of the plants — not least because I'm going on holiday soon, and I don't have much success with plants even in the best of circumstances.

Curve Storeroom. Unit 1D, The Printworks, Union Row, Margate CT9 1PP. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
Cliffs. 172 Northdown Road Margate, CT9 2QN. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
Mar Mar. 80 Northdown Rd, Margate CT9 2RE. Website. Instagram.

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