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 2012 book, '36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe'.
Sunday 27 July 2014 was an historic night for the cafe when Chris Gunness, chief UN spokesman for UNRWA, the organisation responsible for the support and welfare of Palestinian refugees, led a Q&A session direct from Jerusalem, after a performance of Richard Crane's acclaimed Gaza play, I Am a Warehouse. Through the power of the internet, that night in Brighton was the first time Gunness was able to see the play, based on his own original idea (see entry under Diary).
"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.
Redroaster also hosts a regular tango-dancing club, locally famous poetry readings, new Fringe theatre 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.
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 coffee sacks for sale at £1.50 each, national newspapers and journals such as Sight & Sound freely available to read as well as free Wifi. 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.
New harvests of single estate arabica coffee beans from 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 dedicated roastery in Kemp Town 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".
Redroaster is hosting the launch of local author Stephanie Lam's debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House, "a gripping read laced with mystery, secrets and love" (to be published by Penguin this summer). This event is by invitation only. If you would like to hire the cafe in the evening for a private party, book launch or play ...Read More >
If you're off on holiday and need a good read, you could try Lizzie Enfield's compelling third novel, Living With It, which explores the lives of ordinary people as they struggle to come to terms with the choices they’ve made, available now at Redroaster. Lizzie is a journalist and regular contributor to national newspapers and magazines. Her two ...Read More >
Richard Denne is a Brighton based artist. An avid fan of Pop Art, he uses this as a starting block to explore the idea of collage, resulting in bold and graphic work. He integrates a traditional print-making process with digital technology and fuses them into prints and mixed media originals. The images will be available as a limited edition print for the dur...Read More >