30 July 2019

The Caffeine Chronicles: Scarlett Coffee Roastery

Update (Jan 2021): Scarlett's cafe has now closed, but you can still buy their coffee online.

Despite its close proximity to Angel Tube station, it's easy to miss Scarlett Coffee Roastery if you don't know where to look. Located on a quiet stretch of Duncan Street, which runs east from Upper Street, the cafe and roastery is a stylish haven of speciality coffee — and brunch.

Scarlett takes its name from the bright red hue of ripe coffee cherries, and the scarlet ibis stands proudly — if one-leggedly — as its sigil. These vibrant pinky-red colours add pops of colour to the otherwise grey tones of the cafe, from the coffee bar with hexagons reminiscent of the now-defunct Coffee Curators Gallery, to the gorgeous grey marble table that occupies most of the space in the main area of the shop. There are also some seats at the window, outside on the small patio, and upstairs on the mezzanine level where the Probat roaster holds court.

I arrive in the early afternoon on a Saturday, and brunch is still in progress, with dishes like pulled lamb with poached eggs on sourdough toast, as well as brunch classics like crushed avocado on toast, albeit with some interesting twists. There are also various cakes and pastries for tho I have already eaten but I make a note to come hungrier next time. Instead, I skip straight to the coffee menu. All of the usual espresso-based drinks are there, and they also serve pourovers, brewed through the Clever Dripper.

First up, I order a cortado with the De Beauvoir espresso, a Colombian variety, which tastes smooth, sweet and very well-balanced with a little milk. When I spot the Clever Dripper, I decide to try the filter coffee too; Clever Drippers are sadly all too rare — and they are one of the few brewing devices that I don't own. The single-origin filter-roast beans are from Rugali Coffee Washing Station in Rwamiko, Rwanda. The coffee, served in a navy Kinto mug, is very well brewed with notes of dark chocolate and red berries, which again evoke the inescapable scarlet ibis.

After I've finished my very enjoyable cups of coffee, I pop up to the mezzanine to get a better look at the roaster and the beautifully designed bags of retail beans. As well as the De Beauvoir espresso, whose name recalls the local neighbourhood, there are two versions of the Rwandan beans: washed process ('Ibis') and honey process (in the black packaging). They roast on Wednesdays and the cafe is closed, but if you show up on any day, you'll see that new Islington coffee shop is most certainly pretty in scarlet.

Scarlett Coffee Roastery. 30 Duncan Street, London, N1 8BW (Tube: Angel). Instagram, Twitter.

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

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