I’M about to say something quite controversial. One of my favourite cafes in London is not Antipodean. It’s the Turkish café at the end of my street. There’s no arty wall decals, no distressed wooden share tables with ceramic bowls of raw sugar cubes, no organic ingredients listed on a menu presented on a clipboard, and then served on an antique breadboard.
No, instead it has practical matching chairs, 1980s photos of Sultanahmet on the wall, and a laminated four page menu, with multiple variations of a big breakfast which comes out as a loaded plate with the lot, and then some.
It also has terrible coffee, but then again, it also never makes any promises. There’s no blurb about the years spent perfecting a particular roasting technique. No roasting machine taking up half the floor space, virtually slapping the customer across the face with the promise of a superior cup. And definitely no carefully drawn coffee leaf on its milky face.
Which gets me, in a roundabout way, to Ozone Coffee Roasters.
Ozone is full of promises. A welcoming two-leveled café in the back streets of Old Street. Cosy booths line one wall where friends can debrief in comfortable privacy the morning after. There are long bench spaces for a private perusal of the morning papers, and a big square table in its own room downstairs that would be perfect for a birthday breakfast, if one had enough friends to fill the space. Combined with a giant roaster and mood setting sacks of beans, the overall vibe is one of slick superiority in the brunching department.
It is therefore with reluctance that I have to say, my coffee was not that good. Slightly bitter, and a bit burnt. And it didn’t improve on the second cup. Though still better than my local, it was just two beans short of the guarantee Ozone made me when I walked through the door.
Ditto, the food. Perhaps this was my fault, maybe I ordered wrong. Other people were being delivered plates of creamy scrambled eggs and big omelettes stuffed full of things. I succumbed to my bad habit of always picking poached eggs, no matter what they come with, and ended up with two rather lonely looking globules sitting forlornly atop their small potato hills amongst an expansive plain of porcelain. Of course, I could have ordered extras, but at £3.50 each it would have pushed what was already a midrange breakfast into the realms of fancy la-di-da prices, and, well, Coffee Cult is just not that rich. All our money goes towards supporting our black liquid gold habit you see.
Ozone first opened as coffee roasters in 1998 in London, having started life back in New Zealand supplying beans to more than 200 NZ cafes. The current incarnation of café and roasting house was opened in March 2012 by New Zealander Craig Macfarlane in partnership with UK based partners.
Ozone – it’s not you, it’s me. You’re an attractive package, and you have a lot of potential which you seem to live up to most of the time, mainly when it’s other people ordering from you. It’s my fault, I expected too much. I thought you were an extras included kind of place, and I should have known better. I think we’ll be better off as friends.
11 Leonard Street
By Alex Ivett
To find out where to get your local caffeine hit see: Best Australian coffee shops in London