Islington coffee stayer aims for a top customer experience

Master: Peaberrys head barista Jess Marjoribanks. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Master: Peaberrys head barista Jess Marjoribanks. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Peaberrys Coffee Roasters, 81 Maitland Rd, Islington. Mon-Fri: 7am-3:30pm, Sat: 8am-1pm.

Longevity is not a word that is often associated with players in the competitive game of Newcastle coffee. Some names have remained famous but so many more stars have faded as quickly as they have appeared.

Among the small number of stayers, Peaberrys has cultivated a coffee following that is as strong as any other. Since first selling beans from the Growers Markets 18 years ago, this roasting house, retailer, café and barista school has not merely survived but continued, year by year, to evolve into something bigger.

You only need to walk through their doors in Islington to appreciate the style and the scale of this coffee enterprise.

When I meet Peaberrys founder and head roaster Adrian Rigon he appears alongside what look like enormous hessian sacks suspended from the ceiling. In these he stores his green beans which will be roasted on site, only metres behind where he is standing. On the other side of these beans is a cupping room and barista training facility. It opens up onto an area that stocks an extensive range of house roasted blends and every imaginable piece of brewing equipment.

Where I sit down for a short black and a piccolo, almost the entire Peaberrys process, from green bean to cup, can be appreciated from my vantage point near the front window.

Among the small number of stayers, Peaberrys has cultivated a coffee following that is as strong as any other.

As Rigon explains, the design of the café and the roastery reflects his commitment to opening up the experience to the customer.

“As a coffee business we have committed ourselves to transparency in here” Rigon says.

“The more the customer can see and learn about our coffee, the more distinctive their experience will be.”  

From one of the most professionally appointed coffee bars in the city, where every temperature and dose is measured and digitally controlled, head barista Jess Marjoribanks can pour any coffee you have never heard of. Clever drippers. Nitros. Mocca Masters. Tweaked Colombian Decafs. All served every day from their self-described “Cellar Door” of site-roasted beans and blends.

If you stand by the bar for long enough, you might find yourself holding a Colombian. Freshly poured filter that is.

Or if it is a slightly less adventurous espresso that you favour, Peaberrys are currently running the Black Betty and Gamble St blends. In my short black the Gamble St was bright with lighter, fruity tones and a nicely rounded, even sweeter finish.

The piccolo complemented the Black Betty perfectly – a milk-based coffee for a darker roasted blend that ends with an intensely rich, dark cherry aftertaste.