Friday, 18 March 2011

The Camden Coffee Shop.



I love the tiny specialist shops in London that have been here for years, selling to generations of customers beneath the same shop sign. They're getting harder to find, so I got very excited when I discovered The Camden Coffee Shop yesterday.

 
I'd noticed the gorgeous original shopfront a couple of times but presumed it was a hipster coffee bar as it's on Delancey Street, right in the thick of Camden Town. But no, as I ventured closer I started to get excited. It looked like a dusty old coffee merchants. 
 
Opening the shonky old door, the first thing I noticed were the old roasters. Do they actually roast the coffee in the tiny shop? The thickly coffee scented air confirmed that hale yes, they do. 
 
My tiny brain went into excitement overdrive as I noticed George the shopkeeper in his grocer's coat, filling up paper packages of coffee behind his scales. I asked if I could take photos and he gave me a smiley nod.

The customer in front of me noticed I had my camera out and also started taking pictures. He was a regular, buying coffee to take home to his parents in Iran and wanted to show them where he bought the coffee he was always rambling on about. George tipped the scales to give him a little bit extra.

When it was my turn, I asked George what I should get. He asked how I liked my coffee and when I said strong he asked, 'Strong-strong or medium-strong?' I imagined he probably wouldn't be messing around in terms of strong-strong so I opted for medium-strong. He said, 'Let's see how you get on with this and we can decide again next time'. He gave me Costa Rican beans, straight out of the roasting tray.
Camden coffee shop
I asked how he chose which coffee to sell in the shop and he looked at me as though I was mad and said, 'I just sell the best.' There are sacks of coffee along one side of the shop and six or seven tubs in front of the scales. You can blend the beans, if you are fancy like that. 

The coffee roaster is 85 years old, George's family have run the shop for 50 years and he has worked there for 27 years, six days a week. These are some good stats to have behind your morning cup of coffee. George drinks at least 6 cups of coffee per day. He wouldn't be drawn on what the maximum number of cups he might drink is. But here are his coffee drinking tips: never drink on an empty stomach and always have a glass of water with it, as it is a strong diuretic.
Camden coffee shop

I am a slave to coffee and can't wait to try my beans but it's the newspaper strewn, old-fashioned balance book and weighing-scales charm of the place that has me smitten. Camden Coffee Shop is another place to add to my list of places that I worry might one day close. I know George and I have only just met but would it be weird if I asked if I could take his shop over when he retires? I wouldn't change a thing.
Camden coffee shop

The Camden Coffee Shop, 11 Delancey Street, NW1. Call 020 7387 4080.

17 comments:

  1. I just discovered this too! Was walking to Euston station from Cecil Sharpe house and I smelled that wonderful roasting smell. I couldn't believe my luck when I saw this place. Very, very pleased. How are you getting on with the Costa Rica?

    Have you been to Leather Lane for the very geeky coffee experience of Prufrock? I think you ought to give it a go!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is it wrong that my first thought was - Qype interview!! look wonderful x

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'll run it with you when George retires. We could have a lovely time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This place looks great, I just started slowly to drink coffee again after 3 years so I am on a lookout for good quality beans.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What great photos - I can smell the coffee as I look at them. I shall have to go and see George when I come to visit.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mmm! Now that I'm a part-time coffee addict I think I'm going to have to check this place out. Maybe George has a special mild coffee for weaklings.

    Srsly, 6 cups though, that's unbelievable.

    ReplyDelete
  7. There is a hardware shop on Theobalds Road you should totally check out. I can't remember what it is called but it is a few doors down from Conway Hall (on the same side of the road).

    You go in and the walls are covered with hundreds of tiny little draws stuff full of every kind of screw, nail and other tool-type stuff. Its very cool.

    ReplyDelete
  8. need to go here!

    thanks for the heads up cazza

    me & kerry went to a coffee plantation/roasting place in colombia... a little family run set up... was great, they let us roast our own beans too

    we've currently got some of that mongoose poo coffee... nice enough but can't taste the difference really

    ReplyDelete
  9. There's a fantastic book called "still open" the lists most of the old London shops like this, I'm planning a weekend of using it like a guidebook!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow this place looks amazing!! What a great find.

    ReplyDelete
  11. From another slave to coffee... this place looks fab... wish I was there. I got a big bag of beans from Monmouth for xmas and it's one of the best presents I've ever had. 'I have measured out my life with coffee spoons....'
    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  12. Have to take the other half there – he's a total coffee fiend! Can't believe the roaster is 85 too - that's insane!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Abby! What were you doing at Cecil Sharpe house? I want to join there, looks amazing! And yes, I've had Prufrock coffee at a coffee bar at a clothes shop in Shoreditch. Such a coffee ponce. :)

    J9 - seriously. Can we? Please?

    WFI - sounds essential, can we go? Then to the Fryers Delight for tea?

    That book sounds awesome, London Lisbonite. Thanks for the heads-up, I'll look out for it.

    Just as a note: if you like strong coffee get the strong-strong recommendation from George. Medium-strong wasn't strong enough for me.

    ReplyDelete
  14. that's a camden standard. grew up round the corner and played snooker in the place opposite! great smell as you go past and i'm so happy it's still running. good find

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've bee going here since 1995, fantastic coffee and George is a great boke !

    ReplyDelete
  16. I lived in Delancey Street for years and I was a regular. He is a very nice man, his coffee is great and the smell is awesome (getting a bit nostalgic now). I hope the shop stays there for many years to come.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I also found this place walking back to Euston Station. I was instantly alerted by the aroma from about 50 yards away. I bought some Costa Rican and would agree that it is fabulous coffee. I don't live in London and went back specially to get another fix one Thursday. However word of warning don't visit after 2:30 pm on a Thursday since I have now discovered this is George's afternoon off!

    ReplyDelete