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The pouring of a flat white at Rosslyn Coffee London Wall.
Michaël Protin

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The Morning Rush

Rosslyn Coffee’s exacting approach to service and speed, as well as quality, marks its new London Wall cafe out as one of London’s best

First, you notice the names. A steady stream called out by the baristas behind the bar, as tens of people bustle in and out of Rosslyn Coffee on London Wall, a quick walk from Moorgate Station. They ring out amid the hubbub of buttons pressed dockets printed coffee ground shots pulled steam wands purged jugs banged; the hubbub that comes with slinging out brew after brew as the sun peers out over the horizon and the city comes to life.

A good deal of early aughts speciality coffee shops balked at the practice of calling out customer’s names with their drinks; sharing something with Starbucks? The gauchest of crimes. That’s thankfully a hang-up long gone by. But then you notice something else. Those names aren’t just being called out for drinks. It’s when people walk through the door.

London speciality coffee often feels like one of those triangle choice graphics more associated with students arriving at university. Quality; service; speed: pick two. Only the best of the best manage all three, but three years in, it’s exactly what has come to define James Hennebry and Mat Russell’s version of what a coffee shop can be in London. In Hennebry’s words, “the standards of the Australian cafe combined with the hospitality of an Irish pub.” The pairing derives from both owners’ heritage — Hennebry Irish, Russell Australian — and time both spent in and around the coffee scene on Melbourne’s Rosslyn Street, from which the cafe takes its name.

So far, it’s a winning combination, and what Hennebry is most proud of is seeing customers gaining the comfort and familiarity from their morning go-to that propels them to try something different: one of the “off menu,” frozen coffees that can run to £10 a cup. Building up trust with regular, regular coffee drinkers means it’s easier than many hyperbolic column inches might suggest to convey why a coffee might cost that much — and remembering their name as well as their coffee can’t hurt, either.

Join the morning rush at the best new coffee shop in London.

An espresso machine on the concrete bar at Rosslyn Coffee, with cups on top and espresso grinders to the right.
The fulcrum: a four-group espresso machine from La Marzocco, a beautiful workhorse.
Four white large tubs filled with coffee beans stacked on two shelves, labelled clockwise from top-left: “House White”; “House Black”; “Decaf”; “Filter.”
The beans. Roasted by Origin Coffee in Cornwall for the two cafes, with two espresso roasts (one for white coffees, one for black) one roast for filter coffee, and of course, the decaf.
A barista in a green apron pours a tin of coffee beans into the hopper of an espresso grinder.
Before the shop opens, the baristas “dial in” each coffee, like using a recipe for cooking. It starts with getting the beans in the grinder.
A coffee brew recipe written in blue pen on a white label inside a grinder hopper. The recipe is 19 grams of dry coffee to make 38 grams of espresso, in 28 to 31 seconds.
The recipe for each coffee is written on each grinder. It consists of the amount of ground coffee, by weight; the amount of espresso produced, by weight; and the time that espresso should take to brew.
A portafilter full of ground coffee sits in an espresso grinder. The display reads out the weight, 19.0g, on a green backdrop.
A shot of espresso flows out of a portafilter into a white ceramic cup.
A barista in a beige shirt holds a half-drunk coffee cup.
A man in a bike helmet with long blonde hair sips a coffee from a white ceramic cup.

So do the customers.

An espresso in a white demitasse on a white saucer, with a wooden carved small spoon.
An espresso ready for its drinker.
Michaël Protin
A hand holds a flat white in a white ceramic cup on a saucer.
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A countertop freezer is opened, revealing vacuum-packed coffee beans inside.
A close-up of the same coffee freezer
A bearded barista in a blue shirt and green workwear apron cleans a coffee counter and set of scales with a brush.
The barista flips a coffee filter into a metal brewer.

Using a paper filter emphasises the clarity and delicate nature of the coffee, and allows for jazz hands on camera. The brewer used is a stainless steel Kalita dripper, made in Japan.

The barista pours ground coffee into a steel dripper.
The coffee is ground directly from frozen, ready to brew.
The dripper full of ground coffee is placed under a Marco SP9 brewer
Then technology takes over. While baristas hand-brewing coffees can lend some theatre, humans are less consistent than machines — and having automatic brewers allows baristas to spend time on other tasks and with customers, rather than tending to a coffee like a little pet. This is the “SP9,” made by Marco.
Coffee drinkers come in and out of Rosslyn in Moorgate; one folds up a Brompton bike.
From serenity to bustle: the morning preparation is over and it’s service time.
A queue out the door of Rosslyn Coffee on London Wall in Moorgate.
No matter the coffee they’re seeking, mornings in Moorgate mean one thing: the rush.
A spinning brush tool cleans out a portafilter filled with spent coffee grounds.
Every little time and mechanical saving — here a tool replacing someone wiping out a portafilter with a towel — helps.
A portafilter in a coffee grinder, and a Puqpress, to the right, which tamps coffee mechanically.
Rise and grind etc.
Three portafilters, a coffee brush, an espresso machine, and grinders, in a slightly chaotic order.
Three takeaway coffee cups are being brewed into as baristas press the buttons to start the espresso shots.
Full steam ahead.
Michaël Protin
A milk texturing machine dispenses milk into a steel jug.
Well, actually, there’s not much steaming at Rosslyn. An Ubermilk, which produces hot textured milk at the touch of a button, handles the dairy — baristas still have to steam oat milk.
Three restaurant tickets on a metal rail, with a takeaway cup in the foreground. Michaël Protin
Five coffee cups full of espresso with matching dockets.
Two baristas pour milk into a takeaway coffee and pass out a black coffee. Michaël Protin
Two baristas pour milk on a busy coffee bar. Michaël Protin

Co-founders James Hennebry and Mat Russell getting it done. They worked at esteemed London roaster Caravan before leaving to set up Rosslyn.

A hand picks up a flat white coffee in a black cup, the drink adorned with a latte art heart.
Those who have a moment will stick around.
Two men stand at the bar by the window at Rosslyn Coffee.
Standing room only.
Customers outside Rosslyn London Wall.
And in winter, the rush settles as daylight takes over. The shop fronts on to open space ready for seating in warmer months, and the red phone box outside will take on a new role in the future — watch this space.
A barista pours latte art into a white ceramic cup.
Ultimately, the shop builds on the success of Rosslyn’s original site near Bank: embracing the reality and pace of high-volume coffee, without compromising on kindness of service or quality of drink.
A finished flat white with a rosetta design.
One coffee at a time.