It was back in early 2008, on a backpacking trip through South America, as we stumbled along dusty back roads in the rural hills of Colombia, where we fell in love with coffee. It was here, tasting the freshly roasted beans from artisan farmers, we experienced the full flavour complexity of a properly crafted coffee - and it blew our minds.
The coffee travelled with us, and as we sat sipping piping hot coffee on crisp mornings, watching blazing sunrises, we realised that enjoying great coffee isn’t just about what’s in the cup - it's about understanding the story behind the coffee, the ritual of its preparation, the ambiance and the company you keep. From these beginnings, our idea grew, of creating a space that celebrated the craft of creating outstanding coffee, in surroundings that encouraged you to feel at home, and to savour time.
Mills & Penn
Our family backgrounds are firmly rooted in London’s East-End, and so Hackney was a natural home in which to establish the business. Jon & James’ cockney grandparents ran butcheries, and worked hauling sugar from the Tate & Lyle refinery in the Docklands.
For Kevin, whose family have owned our Hackney Road premises for more than 60 years, the coffee business offers a chance to open a new chapter in the site’s history. Since the 1930s, the site has been variously a transport depot and mechanic’s garage run by the Mills family. When Kevin’s father retired in 2015, it was time to re-imagine the building and Hackney Coffee Co. was born.
The building itself traces its history to at least as early as 1868, when it was already operating as a brewery. We are restoring its history brick by brick, and as we continue to develop new areas of the site to incorporate a restaurant and cocktail bar, we are uncovering new stories from the past that we can’t wait to share.