When you travel the globe like me looking at coffee businesses, you get a sixth sense to feel out the best businesses. I get a strange tingle in my body when I find these spaces, and it happened recently on my last visit to London. I stumbled across The Coffee Works Project in the Borough of Angel, a great part of the city with lots of cool retail space and great cafés.
I was very impressed from the start, with big smiles from all the staff when I entered the warm café space. The whole experience just got better from there, with great coffee and amazing food. I sat out the back in a little secret English garden and enjoyed the last warm days of the English summer. I was told they roasted their own coffee, and it prompted me to ask to meet the owners.
I was soon chatting with Peter and Joanna Theoklitou over a tasty PNG batch brewed filter coffee. Peter and Joanna were childhood sweethearts, living a few doors from each other in a Greek community in central London. They are married with two girls, and both of them work in the business. I soon learnt that they have created three café businesses under the Coffee Works Project name – one in central London in High Street, one in Blackfriars Road, and the last in Angel/Islington. Joanna looks after the administration and staffing for the three cafés, and Peter looks after the coffee systems, including the roasting.
Peter had grown up in a Greek hospitality family and was discouraged by everyone close to him not to take it on as a job, so he studied hard, got a degree and took on a corporate career. He did not last long before the lure of the kitchen dragged him back in to its grip, and he went into catering and event planning. After tasting some pretty bad coffee in this role, he decided to find out how to improve this part of the business and he went on a quest to find the best brew. He was lucky at the start of his coffee journey that he had a brain stopping moment when he tasted an amazing single origin coffee that was like a strawberry milkshake, and from that moment on he knew he was on to something big.
This café couple love coming to work and are very passionate about the three cafés and the wellbeing of their well oiled team. They treat their staff like family, and you can feel this in the air at all their businesses. Peter likes the cool tools, and he has Slayers as the backbone of his espresso systems, and the baristas are well picked and trained by Peter. He roasts on a 25 kg Probat, and he loves finding rare origins to run through the café brew bars.
We look forward to watching this business boom, and can’t wait to visit on on our next London adventure.
The Coffee Works Project
LONDON – Angel, Leadenhall, Blackfriars Rd