New in town: Roasting Plant

What is it?

Roasting Plant’s brand is focused on its in-house roasteries which see coffee go from fresh beans to ready-to-serve in the same amount of time it usually takes baristas to simply make the coffee. The company claims it is the only coffee shop to actually roast the beans in all of its cafes, and does so via its patented Javabot technology, which is re-adjusted by a ‘master roaster’ each day to keep taste consistent. The Javabot is made up of a system of pneumatic tubes which run from banks of beans, over the heads of customers and straight into the barista’s hands.

When did it begin?

Roasting Plant was established in 2004 by former Starbucks executive Mike Caswell, who left his role to create the Javabot and build up the brand. The first outlet opened in April 2007 on New York’s Lower East Side, before moving on to open up across the US.

Where is it based?

The coffee chain has already made a significant impact on its home market of the US, with outlets in New York, Detroit, Minneapolis, Denver, and San Francisco. Roasting Plant’s new London opening, close to London Bridge station, is its first premises outside of the US, and it has plans already afoot for further outlets in the UK’s capital.

What’s its USP?

The Javabot technology stands out, giving credence to the claim that it produces one of the freshest cups of coffee in London. Tom Hartocollis, who has worked alongside Caswell since Roasting Plant’s founding, says a big selling point is that while the Javabot prepares the coffee, the barista has time to engage with customers, before simply turning around to add milk. Price also gives Roasting Plant an edge, where some of the capital’s ‘craft’ offerings charge a small fortune per cup, the chain’s prices start off at a similar price to the big chains with extra expense only coming when a customer takes up the option of further customisation.

Who’s behind it? 

The company’s new London outlet is being backed by entrepreneur Jamie Robertson. Caswell was previously the director of profit at Starbucks, before leaving to create the Javabot equipment and later Roasting Plant itself. The pair are assisted by financial director Danny Vroegop and marketing officer Hartocollis.

What do they say?

Roasting Plant boss, Mike Caswell, called London the “perfect first international location for our roastery concept”, and added that the aim was to offer a wide selection without coming across as pretentious.

Robertson, UK CEO, said: “People are bored with many of the high street coffee chains.  Often the coffee is not as fresh or flavourful as it could be. Also, people can be a bit intimidated by the artisan shops and baristas that require customers to have perfect knowledge of every aspect of the coffee. Roasting Plant talks to the Willy Wonka in all of us. But not only that, it gives a proper choice in just-roasted coffee that is unlikely to be found in any of the chains.”

Plans for expansion?

Roasting Plant told Catering Today it has “plans to open more stores as soon as the right sites become available across the city [London]”. Something for the investors to ponder…


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