Rosslyn Coffee: a City café with soul

This tiny coffee joint takes its coffee seriously – but, crucially, serves it with a genuine smile

The author sampled a Bolivian organic coffee in a ceramic cup handmade in southeast London by Melisa Dora
The author sampled a Bolivian organic coffee in a ceramic cup handmade in southeast London by Melisa Dora | Image: Giulia Mulè

It’s been a great first year for Rosslyn Coffee: in just 15 months, this friendly little café between Bank and St Paul’s has gathered a loyal local customer base of discerning coffee lovers. It has fans further afield too – Alain Ducasse recently paid a call and it was the only UK-based coffee shop to be nominated in the global Sprudgie Awards for Best New Café.

Rosslyn Coffee co-founder Mat Russell can often be found behind the bar
Rosslyn Coffee co-founder Mat Russell can often be found behind the bar | Image: Giulia Mulè

I visited at around 7.30am on a weekday, so it wasn’t too crowded and my husband and I easily found a place to sit down, though seating is limited to a few wooden stools placed along the front windows and two outdoor benches. Most of Rosslyn’s customers stop by for a takeaway coffee on the way to work or for a quick break during office hours.

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We didn’t have to wait long for our orders: a flat white (£3) for me, a pour-over (£4) for my husband and a mouth-watering almond croissant (£2.80) from Borough Market’s Bread Ahead bakery to share.

The café is located between Bank and St Paul’s
The café is located between Bank and St Paul’s | Image: Giulia Mulè

At first glance, Rosslyn looks like one of the many Aussie-inspired coffee shops dotted around London. Stripped-back, minimalist interior: check. Cutting-edge equipment: check – Rosslyn uses a Synesso MVP Hydra espresso machine (custom-built in Seattle), four EK43 grinders and Marco SP9 single brewers. Trendy-looking staff: check. But what sets Rosslyn apart from other serious-about-coffee joints is the staff’s friendly attitude and genuine smiles – and other small gestures go a long way, such as being presented with a little glass of water while you wait for your brew.

Rosslyn’s almond croissants come from Bread Ahead bakery in Borough Market
Rosslyn’s almond croissants come from Bread Ahead bakery in Borough Market | Image: Giulia Mulè

Co-founders Mat Russell and James Hennebry previously worked at artisan firm Caravan Coffee Roasters, and Russell was behind the bar the morning we visited. Without knowing who I was, but noticing my big camera, he created an especially beautiful bit of latte art and took the time to serve it to my table and answer my questions about the coffee and the gorgeous pink ceramic cup I was drinking from (handmade in southeast London by Melisa Dora). 

Modern Standard in Tilbury roasts Rosslyn’s house espresso
Modern Standard in Tilbury roasts Rosslyn’s house espresso | Image: Giulia Mulè

Typically, there is a choice of four coffees. Modern Standard in Tilbury roasts Rosslyn’s house espresso, a bespoke blend of 70 per cent Brazilian and 30 per cent Colombian beans with flavour notes of chocolate, caramel and nuts. This coffee is used in all of Rosslyn’s milk-based drinks, while black espresso is prepared with a seasonal single origin roasted by Colonna Coffee in Bath.

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Filter-coffee lovers with no time to waste have the option of ordering coffee prepared batch-brewed a few hours before with beans roasted by Modern Standard (right now, a washed Guatemalan). Freshly brewed filter can be made using a single origin chosen from a selection of national and international roasters. At the time of my visit, I tasted a delicious organic coffee from Finca Buena Vista in Caranavi, Bolivia, by The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen. Since then Rosslyn has switched to a washed Ethiopian by Bailies in Belfast – the only excuse this coffee geek needs to make a return visit very soon.

Giulia Mulè is a food and travel writer based in London who is passionate about sharing food photography on her Instagram feed (@mondomulia) and blog Mondomulia (mondomulia.com). Originally from Rome, Mulè has spent over a decade living in London and travelling the world. In her spare time, she organises brunch meet-ups with @IGBrunchClub and fundraising events with @CreatingForGood – a collective of Instagrammers who share their creative skills to raise money for selected charities.

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