A little way up a narrow old street called St James’s, off the Old Steine (Brighton’s main thoroughfare) and opposite the Royal Pavilion, Redroaster, an original and independent coffee house, has been embedded in the heart of the city for many years. As Ian Boughton says in 'Coffee-house Capers', "Redroaster in Brighton, a very well-regarded coffee-house, was way ahead of the much vaunted vogue for 'roaster-retailers' or people who roast on their own premises." Coffee blogger Damn Fine Joe notes: "Redroaster is a legendary coffee house and roasterie in Brighton, that has been producing gourmet coffee for well over a decade". The coffee house is also recommended by The New York Times as a 'go-to destination' in their book, '36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe'.
"Redroaster is a very special place,” said Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemp Town and Peacehaven. “It’s a Brighton institution”. He was introducing the coffee house to Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General, and MP for Horsham on 6 December 2013.
Caroline Lucas, the UK's first Green MP, spoke to a packed audience of Brighton NUJ members at Redroaster on 23 January. The cafe was also visited by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, during the 2012 Liberal Democrat Conference. See Diary for picures. More than just a cafe, in the evenings Redroaster hosts a regular tango-dancing club, locally famous poetry readings, plays and book launches, as well as occasional gigs by touring and local musicians. Kate Nash and Oscar-winning singer Adele (see picture under Testimonials) have both performed here.
Small batches of single origin arabica coffee beans from individual coffee estates in Indonesia, Africa, Central America and India are freshly roasted every week on the original red roaster behind the cafe counter, with roasting dates and prices chalked up on the blackboard. The House espresso blend, certified Organic blend and Decaffeinated coffee are selected, hand-roasted and blended by chief coffee roaster Paul Stephens, in Redroaster's dedicated coffee roastery in Brighton's Kemp Town area. See Buying Beans to read his tasting notes on individual single estate coffees.
Paul is a Licensed Q Grader, accredited by the Quality Coffee Institute. As a Q Grader, Paul is qualified to grade samples of coffee submitted by coffee growers all over the world. Only if a coffee scores 80 points or higher, as scored by three Q graders, can a coffee be certified ‘specialty’ coffee, that is, one of the best coffees in the world. Paul has developed an incredible depth of knowledge about coffee since he started working at the coffee house in 2000, going on to run the roastery from 2007, where he hand-roasts the local weekly wholesale orders.
Tim Hume, managing director, does not compromise on the quality of their coffee beans and is committed to paying a fair price for the same commitment to quality from the producers (see 'Sourcing green beans', under Wholesale). Redroaster's House blend has been described as: "A great full rounded flavour that cloaks the mouth like a velvet muffler. It then reveals itself with light, tart cherry notes that can be clearly picked out and are felt right down to the back of the palette. The honeyed sweetness remained strong along with some hints of spice and a gentle backing of dry tannin tones. The after taste was creamy, smooth and with a light zestyness".
The atmosphere is airy and spacious with high vaulted skylights in the ceiling which light the changing exhibitions of artwork on the walls. There are national newspapers and journals such as Sight & Sound freely available to read. Skilled volunteers are welcome to play on the piano, donated by a loyal customer. The cafe is wheelchair-friendly and has a convenient downstairs toilet especially for the disabled. There is even a vast collection of coffee pots and coffee grinders through the ages if you look up high.
Neil Palmer is a Brighton-based author, songwriter and artist. Avoiding traditional PR routes, he’s remained a countercultural figure. Neil plays guitar and provides the vocals for The Spartan Dreggs (see picture), in a musical collaboration with artist, writer and musician, Billy Childish. This partnership, which began in 2010, has produced five LPs and a dozen 45s o...Read More >
Annie McManus worked for many years as an illustrator, having studied Fine Art at Brighton, followed by an MA in Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art. She used to work mainly in black and white, line and wash, but after living for a couple of years in Boston, where she experimented more with colour and paint, she now often mingles paint, charcoal, pastel and collage in th...Read More >
Brighton wood sculptor Dave Gourlay has created a new series of illuminated sculptures, now showing at Redroaster. They use slats of cherrywood to produce a halo effect. If you would like to view further examples of his work (all displayed at Redroaster are for sale) please go to his website...Read More >