23 November 2018

The Caffeine Chronicles: Rosslyn Coffee

A few weeks ago, I tweeted about my frustrations of going into speciality coffee shops that offer hand-brewed filter coffee and asking for a pourover, only to be directed towards the batch-brew filter even when the shops aren't busy. I have the complete opposite experience when I pay a visit to Rosslyn Coffee on Queen Victoria Street in the heart of the City of London.

When I ask what coffee is available as a pourover, the baristas enthusiastically tell me about the Commonfolk coffee — roasted on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia — describing its flavours. They let me know that it is a little more expensive than the batch-brew, which is fine, of course, and offer me a choose of still or sparkling tap water.

This sense of hospitality continues throughout my visit and it's clear that the staff are keen to share their pride in the products they sell, from the coffee and the salted caramel Bread Ahead brownies, to the beautiful, bespoke ceramics from Melisa Dora. Sensing my interest in the coffee, one of the baristas brings me over a card with more information about the Young Blood filter blend I am drinking — which pairs two Ethiopian varieties, a Konga and a Worka, whose peach and lemonade notes really sing. Brewed through a Marco precision brewer, the coffee smells delicious as soon as it has been placed in front of me in the bench.

Named for the Melbourne street where one of the two owners used to work, Rosslyn Coffee certainly embodies that effortless Aussie coolness I encountered in many of the coffee shops I visited last year. They aren't afraid to put 'hard ballads' like Aerosmith on the soundtrack, just like Toronto restauranteur Jen Agg, who talks about such musical choices on Slate's excellent Women in Charge podcast. One of my favourite features is the newspaper pages pinned to the wall — the Pink 'Un, for this is the City, after all — a callback, perhaps, to Patricia Coffee Brewers, one of my favourite Melbourne coffee shops. Patricia is so tiny that there's barely even elbow room, hence the need to attach the newspaper to the wall. Rosslyn is more spacious — in the afternoon, at least — but with only slim high tables at which to perch, it's nice to have some reading material that doesn't require too much room.

Rosslyn is, by no means, style over substance, however, and my coffee, served in a glass beaker with one of the pink Melisa Dora cups, tastes wonderful. One of the two coffees is washed and the other a natural process, and they combine very well. This is a coffee shop that takes its coffee seriously without taking itself too seriously. As they note on their social media, they are, "Not concerned with trends, only what tastes good." Amen to that.

I wait until I've finished my coffee before starting on the brownie, which is very rich but delicious. And of course, I can't leave the premises without buying one of the ceramic cups. The only difficult decision is whether to choose the blue or the pink. In the end, I opt for the latter. I could have bought some coordinating Modern Standard coffee beans too, but I've already stocked up on some Ethiopian Catalyst coffee en route, which also comes in pink-accented packaging.

Rosslyn Coffee. 78 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4SJ (Tube: Mansion House). Website. TwitterInstagram.

For 100+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my speciality coffee guide.

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