11 February 2021

The Caffeine Chronicles: The Roasting Shed, Hackney Wick

After a cold, rainy January in London, 1 February was a gorgeous sunny day. For once, I'd picked a good day to take off work. Of course, with the UK in lockdown, my opportunities for fun were somewhat limited, but I did get back on my bike for the first time in a few weeks, and cycle to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Hackney Wick, a straightforward ride along Cycle Superhighway 2. I wasn't planning on making a coffee stop, but when I was about to head home, I happened upon The Roasting Shed's Hackney Bridge location. I knew the espresso bar was in the area but had managed not to add it to my Google Map.

The roastery originated in an actual shed in Hackney in 2013, but their current location is part of the concrete-framed warehouses that make up the Echo Building. The roastery is now based in The Roasting Shed's Hornsey Road home in north London, while the Hackney Bridge espresso bar serves coffee and sweet treats — takeaway only for now, of course.

The mint green, tiled counter takes up most of the small coffee shop. The décor is otherwise fairly minimal, but my eye was immediately caught by the cakes and pastries sitting at the end of the counter. There were brownies, doughnuts and lamingtons on offer, as well as what I thought was caramelised banana bread, but turned out to be a sticky toffee pudding slice. Wow! I'd just had a big lunch, so will definitely have to arrive hungrier next time.

Instead, I just ordered a piccolo, which was made with the Roasting Shed's Espresso #097, a blend of a washed Rwandan Kinini coffee and a natural Brazilian San Antonio. The menu is concise, with just espresso-based drinks, tea, hot chocolate and batch-brew filter coffee. While the barista made my drink, I browsed the other coffees that were available to buy, all in the simple but colourful Roasting Shed packaging. The La Cañada coffee from Mexico sounded particularly tasty. They also offer a coffee subscription service online.

Although there is no seating at the Roasting Shed (and no sitting-in allowed at the moment in any case), there are some wooden benches outside, and I sat down for a few moments, soaking up the sun while I drank my coffee, which had a smooth, sweet taste with some raspberry tartness. As I mainly drink pourover coffee at home, I really savour the rare occasions when I'm able to enjoy a top-quality, barista-brewed espresso drink. There were people out and about in the Olympic Park and around Hackney Bridge but it was still very quiet.

As for my aforementioned big lunch, I ordered takeout from From the Ashes BBQ, a barbecue spot in Fish Island. It might sound wrong but the pork shoulder doughnut was just the right combination of sweet and salty, and I scoffed the side of crispy beef fat potatoes too. As they're based closed to the West Ham stadium, it would make a great place for a pre-game bite, although who knows when I'll next have the opportunity to see Wolves play there.

The Roasting Shed. Echo Building Unit 2, East Bay Lane, London, E15 2SJ (Hackney Wick Overground). Website. TwitterInstagram.

For 130+ more of my favourite coffee shops in London, please check out my London speciality coffee guide.

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