20 years strong
This year we are celebrating 20 years of Climpson & Sons! Hailing from our roots as a market stall on Broadway Market (Hackney) in 2002, we are pioneers in the evolving UK specialty coffee sector. We’ve grown organically into a busy community led cafe and coffee bar, a leading specialty coffee roastery and a home for collaborative innovation as we explore the possibilities of coffee sourcing, roasting and brewing; our curated coffee selection and our range of Midnight Oil coffee liqueurs and ready-to-drink espresso Martini are a showcase of that.
As an independent business our growth comes down to graft; learning by doing, working with great people; championing trial and error to create opportunity and sharing; and so far not through outside investment.
We delve back into our history and have constructed a timeline of somewhat questionable accuracy.
Climpson & Sons Coffee Roasters was born out of Burgil Coffee, a market stall established in the early noughties by Ian Burgess, who returned from 5 years of drinking amazing coffee in Australia determined to offer the same quality coffee in London.
After a few years on the market circuit, he set up shop in East London’s Broadway Market in 2004, recognizing the potential of the location and taking on the name of the old butchers’ shop for the business: Climpson & Sons.
In 2005 he purchased his first coffee roaster (a 3kg Whitmee) and after a hairy moments involving singed eyebrows; evolved the business by supplying the busy café and some other local venues with freshly roasted beans. At that time he bought coffee from Danny Davies at the Coffee Plant and the partnership with DR Wakefield also began.
- 2002 Ian took on both Chiswick and Barnes Farmers Markets and spent the rest of the time pounding the streets putting coffee carts in Office Blocks
- 2003 Ian took on a market stall in Norwich, where he managed to get the average cup price of a coffee from 60p to £1.50 (the market is still going strong as Little Red Roaster today!)
- 2003 The year of the singed eyebrows - Ian bought the first Whitme roaster and learnt some big lessons in a friends garage of what not to do. Buying organic, fairtrade coffees from Peru and Colombia through Danny Davies
- 2004 Ian dove at the opportunity to take on a stall in Broadway Market and a place in Stables Market in Camden. Adeline Vining (now Weanie Beans) took over the Chiswick and Barnes markets which left Ian to focus on roasting.
- 2005 Ian got the keys to our Broadway Market Cafe. Ian went all in and moved the roaster to a garage behind a sofa shop on Broadway Market - what is La Bouche today. Less singed eyebrows and more coffee being roasted, he gave up the Camden site to focus solely on building the roasting business and the cafe.
- 2006 Ian set up a proper roasting space in Broadway Market Mews and then upgraded to a 15 kg Toper. The biggest investment to date!
- The focus was on the cafe and a couple of wholesale customers being delivered on Ians Motorbike - Julies Restaurant in Notting Hill was Ian's first ever wholesale account - they are still a customer today.
- Danny Davies came on board to realise the dream to roast 1 tonne per week.
Danny Davies joined bringing his Australasian/UK coffee experience and to really begin to establish the wholesale division. As London’s appreciation of a decently made coffee blossomed, café owners both established and new sought a better flavour from their espresso shots, pushing the limits of coffee making skills to new levels and the standard of espresso service with it. Climpson & Sons became known as one of the pioneers of this new “third wave” of coffee style, exploring new coffee origins and presenting consistent and intelligently crafted coffee for the retail and wholesale market.
The glory days of a growing industry; the specialty scene was starting to become a real career for people. We moved ‘the roastery’ (slash office, training centre, packing area, accountants desk) from a small all in one room in Broadway Market Mews to the Arch and after trading our Toper in Broadway Mews for a 25kg Probat, we carted the business across the car park in the ‘company car’ - a small trolley and a pallet trolley. Simon joined the company and so began the campaign for establishing a more sustainable coffee sourcing process - and the movement to Ccropster from the trusty pen and paper roast log. When we bought the Loring 35kg it meant we were a real business.
Throughout this time we stepped up the education of ourselves and as coffee educators and trainers to our growing wholesale customer base. We kicked off the Climpson’s Coffee Champs, the Climpson’s in Good Spirits Comp as well as monthly Cupping Club and began participating in industry events like London and Manchester Coffee Festivals and World of Coffee and La Marzocco’s Out of the Box in Milan.
We did our next iteration of a re-brand where the Microsoft Illustrator labelling became obsolete as we created an updated look and feel - fleshing out the famous Climpson & Sons shop front font and playing on our vision for being in a craft industry in a growing period of specialty coffee.
- 2011 Nicole Ferris was fresh off the boat and needing a job, a serendipitous meeting of a Climpson in Brazil saw her be introduced to Danny and with the role of Admin & Logistics becoming available she took the opportunity whilst she searched for a real job…
- 2012 Lena Patel took on the logistics and finance whilst Nicole moved into business development. Simon Clark joined as fresh faced and took to coffee & production like a fish to water.
- The roasters are key pieces of our business - our first Probat in 2012 meant for larger production, improving access to better coffee, handwritten paraments and more reliability. Our move to Loring in 2013 was a key moment in the Climpsons journey, as we began to utilise technology to graph and visualise changes in the roast in real time, with more consistency hitting the sweet spot in our coffees.
- 2014 we built a dedicated training room and a new office space in Regents Studios by Regents Canal and we began to organise and develop our core and advanced training modules.
- Nicole organised the first Coffee Roasters Football Tournament with other London Roasters!
- 2018 a new Market Kitchen was being built in Old Spitalfields Market and we ceased the opportunity to have a kitted out coffee bar. A first gen Mod Bar, frozen steam wands and an attempt to make hot nitro were all lessons learned and we settled on a La Marzocco Strada and cold nitro as a staple to our offering.
- 2018 Climpson’s HQ and Training Academy was born at 5 Helmsley Place - over the road from the Arch and fulfilling the dream to have a beautiful space to share with our customers and teams.
2012 - 2016 Climpson’s Arch Timeline
In 2011, Ian took on Climpson’s Arch and there the restaurant residency was born - playing host to chefs and hospitality professionals to cook on the outdoor bbqs and literally play with fire. This was the chance for chefs to hone their offerings before going to open their own venues. Their was a serious line up with Dave Pynt of Burnt Enz in 2012, Tom, Andy and Mark of Som Saa, as well as collaborations and events like the Great British Food Fight with Nuno Mendes and Ben Denner of Lucky CHip; then Kiln vs Som Saa; Flight Club with Ruth Spivy, 2011 Homeslice built four of his first ovens in the Yard and first events at the Arch.
- 2012 - The wood fired oven and bbq were built and Dave Pynt of Burnt Enz championed the modern bbq restaurant. The Young Turks band of roving chefs Dj’d at the notorious Turbot Sundays; it was a great summer for the hospo crowd.
- 2012 - Homeslice built four of their first ovens in the Yard at the Arch and they hosted their first pizza events before finding their own restaurants.
- 2013 - The birth of Licky Chops - a spin off of Lucky Chip with Ben Denner and a young Tomos Parry working the grills. We hosted the Great British Food Fight with a play off for best dish between Nuno Mendes and Ben Denner.
- 2014 - Tomos Parry took the helm with a glorious bbq menu - XYZ. There were lots of events including Smoking Goats pop up to launch their restaurant, the Meatopia Launch Party, Lucky Chip; the Hackney Blues Fest with Stone & Wood (?)
- 2015 - Som Saa kicked off a killer summer of queues around the block and rave reviews of their exceptional Thai food, including Marina O’loughlan 10/10 review.
- 2016 - Leo Carreira bought his Portuguese cooking to the residency as LC at Climpson’s Arch
- We called it quits for awhile to focus on the coffee, then after the Pandemic Brunch Boxes led Tomos Parrt of Brat to reignite the Climpson’s Arch flames.
- Other events have included Flight Club with Ruth Spivey, 5 Star Burger with Tim Anderson, Ovada Winemakers, Bar Babarian, 20 years of Sugar Club with Peter Gordon, The Intensified Coffee Porter with Brooklyn Brewery featuring Garrett Oliver in 2015,
2016 - pre pandemic
Specialty coffee was becoming a real thing. We had more wholesale enquiries and more people looking to specialty instead of commercial coffee. Whilst we still enjoy a jolly, we got a bit nerdier these years as we began to take SCA competitions more seriously, travelled to coffee producing countries, honed in our sourcing and roasting and telling the stories of our coffees.
We built a new office and training facility opposite the Arch.
We opened Climpson’s Coffee Bar at Old Spitalfields Market to service the melting pot of people with cold and hot coffee - we learnt a lot - that Modbars didn't look like a coffee machine and our attempt at hot nitro was a health & safety hazard. Our Strada and brilliant team bring the Italian coffee bar to our neck of the woods.
Luke Clarkson joined to take the vision of making the best espresso martini (commercially available!) and ended up making coffee liqueur and learning the art of blending and brewing coffee and alcohol on makeshift, free styled brewing gear. A few years later this is now a fully fledged product collection of Climpsons with a full brewery setup at the roastery. A real example of collaborative innovation and exploration - learning from a lot of trial and error. A coffee company championing coffee liqueur is not something we have really seen.
Post Pandemic - today
We’ve been busy. After the slog of the pandemic we have had a whole re-boot of the business. It taught us who we are as a business and gave us an opportunity to re-build the business one coffee bag and one cup of coffee at a time. We closed for days and tried Brunch Boxes and opening our office as a socially distanced hole in the wall coffee shop. We partnered with Brat as in the height of Covid restaurants could only open outside; so they used the Yard to save jobs and an industry of food and beverage purveyors on the brink; and brought a bit of optimism to the Hackney community.
Once we came up for air we decided to go for it - and we upped the anti on ourselves with a fresh new look championing excellence through exploration and collaborative innovation. Our new logo symbolises a collective optimism for our business, our industry and all the amazing people we work with each day.
Years of talk turned into the opportunity for a new roastery down the road in Leyton and the crazy house price sized investment upgrading to a 70K Loring (which after 18 months wait arrived in May 2022).
We are in this business because coffee touches many hands from different backgrounds and that is what is most special about what we do. Coffee itself is just the vehicle to keep us caffeinated and creating and sharing together.
Throughout, Climpsons has had an engaging and eclectic bunch of people who worked here over the years and we wouldn't be where we are today without them.