London’s only current permanent filter coffee-only cafe will close its doors from 9 February. “The indecision to support hospitality by both government and the general public alike due to Covid anxieties” has forced Born Drippy to stop brewing, according to a statement from founder Warren George on Instagram.
As a small, owner operated place, we have always been a couple of slow months away from having to close.
Although this is a project I love, I am not willing to go into debt, nor seek investment. I believe that outside influence would dilute our objective, and make it just another coffee shop.
The singularity of Born Drippy’s offer was its life blood, and George is clear he will not compromise on its survival. While the Covid-19 era has been tough for independent businesses of all stripes, a coffee shop that does not serve espresso, milk, or sugar and is best experienced as a sit-down, rather than takeaway experience is always going to be at a particular disadvantage in a time of reduced capacity and lockdowns.
After a shaky start, the cafe matured into one of the best and most innovative options in the city. Often carrying three or more coffees at one time, it also focussed on sourcing beans produced by either female-run farms or cooperatives, introducing the occasional “late” featuring cocktails into its offer.
George also used the announcement to opine on the state of coffee in the city as a whole, saying that he doesn’t really believe that London is ready for this kind of cafe — at least not operating on such a level of investment:
I have become increasingly frustrated with London as the place for a venture this innovative, and now see the city (and country) as nowhere near ready for, or willing to fully embrace a filter only coffee shop. (Pop ups don’t count!) Maybe in a post pandemic world, in the centre of town, in exactly the right spot this would work, but it isn’t possible that this could be a task for an owner operated, independent shop.
Perhaps the most telling response to this point is that no-one else has really done it. Penny University, the Square Mile filter-only pop-up led by James Hoffmann and Tim Williams, wowed Redchurch Street in 2010. And despite the efforts of the likes of Monmouth (at volume) and Prufrock (in focus, like many others, with a dedicated brew bar), the lack of a robust filter coffee culture in the U.K. has meant that where “drip” is near-ubiquitous in the U.S. and has an easier leg-up in speciality coffee shops, the same is less true here.