Climpson & Sons, Broadway Market

May 16, 2012

Ordinarily I start a review with some thoughts on where the place I am reviewing is situated. Climpson & Sons, though ostensibly based in the People’s Republic of Hackney on Broadway Market, have, in fact, spread their influence well beyond a locale. They are arguably one of the top roasters and suppliers of coffee to the good independents of London, and probably the most well known outside the community of coffee lovers and café haunters of the city. And so rather than write about Hackney, which is far beyond my scope and knowledge anyway, I’d like quickly to highlight a person instead.

Tom Haigh makes coffee sing.

Climpson & Sons

I first met Tom when I moved to London and shortly afterwards started frequenting Coffee Circus in Crouch End, which was the subject of my first review on this blog. The place had (and retains) a vibrancy and enthusiasm for the simple pleasures of drinking a decent cup which grabbed my attention and got me thinking about coffee in a different way. Tom was crucial to this. I had previously worked in a brilliant tea shop in Oxford, where I had made coffees, but nothing prepared me for the detail and precision with which Tom worked. His passion for serving excellent coffees, for understanding why they were excellent and how they could be improved, for actually inhabiting the process and not just churning out a ‘product’, was invigorating. I found myself staying late at the shop and discussing coffee, learning about it as Tom himself took formative steps along the route he is currently travelling. And so it is no surprise to me that he now finds himself at the prestigious C & S, honing his skill and feeding his interest.  It was down to Tom that I found myself in Hackney, trying the C & S single origin…

The single origin is what you think it is, one roast made from one bean, preferably from one farm. Tom’s enthusiasm for this one had me snared, and I was not disappointed. This shot picks you up by the collar, shoves you into a wall, and screams beautifully-balanced coffee yumminess in your face from about an inch away. The base is strong and heavy and sets up sweet, fruity shards which continue to dapple the palate well after you’ve swallowed the mouthful. You can’t argue with this sort of carefully precise roasting. The sweetness lingers so that by the time you sip the next mouthful, the bottom notes meet the previous flavour on the up and start the whole cycle again. You want to try it, honestly. The bean is, apparently, Nicaragua Finca el Paraiso Maracatu Varietal. The price, £1.60, is a lot less imposing than the name, and is made very well, as you’d expect. I was well pleased to have made the journey.

Climpson & Sons

I then, being a creature of habit, had a macchiato. Again with the dolloping! I should start a campaign, or at least get some t-shirts printed. This was good, though not amazing. I think I got the order in in the middle of a post-school rush, and I’m not sure that it was quite loved into being, but it was still a damn sight better than what one would normally receive. The milk was airy and segued into the the shot rather than melting into it, but as I’ve said before, it’s a personal thing, and I couldn’t really fault the art or the craft. One minor whinge: I don’t like having to give a name to put on my cup. Still reeling from Starbucks’ awful personalisation campaign – no, I don’t need to introduce myself to feel part of something, and it’s not really something I want to feel part of anyway – when the C & S barista asked me for a handle I spluttered a little bit. But as you can see from the picture above, I gave in, and without mendacity. All in all, I left Hackney feeling very pleased about the great state of coffee in London, and, more importantly, about the fact that people who love it and care about it are driving standards and beating an enthusiastic drum. So, get thee to Climpson & Sons. Just get your false name ready.

Climpson & Sons, 67 Broadway Market, E8 4 PH

Website with details

Also on Twitter: @climpsonscafe or @climpsonandsons (the former for the coffee house, the latter for the roasters)


One Response to “Climpson & Sons, Broadway Market”

  1. coffeejess Says:

    their coffee is consistent and their beans are great but i too had enough of giving my name to baristas to put on my cup!

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