Penny University – Press Release

In early May, our friends at Aesop offered us use of one of their spaces for a three-month period, and Square Mile Coffee Roasters were suddenly presented with an opportunity to create a retail space of a starkly original nature. We thought first and foremost about what we could bring to the London coffee community that had until now been absent. We debated amongst ourselves over what we could create that would be focussed, different, precise, and yet welcoming and approachable. What we came up with was Penny University.

Forsaking espresso entirely, we set about bringing to Londoners a side of coffee that had until now been tremendously underrepresented in a commercial environment, despite its near fanatical following amongst coffee professionals and devotees alike. Through Penny University, we brought filter coffee to the forefront, and aimed to portray it as accessible, lingering, constantly evolving, and most importantly, delicious.

Since opening our doors, the positive responses from our guests has been truly overwhelming. Similarly, the number of home brewers and grinders that have made their way into people’s homes through our store is truly wonderful and very encouraging. We have learned a tremendous amount about our coffees, the brewers that we stock, and most importantly about just how receptive to new ideas and the nuance of great coffee the London public are.

But now, in mid-July, that three month period is coming to a close. Despite having the opportunity to continue Penny University for a longer period, we’ve had a tremendously difficult decision to make. After a great deal of debate, and careful, considered deliberation, it’s with slightly mixed emotions that we announce that Penny University will be closing for business at 4:00pm Friday 30 July.

We genuinely feel that Penny University has burned very brightly, and served a great purpose in the London coffee community. We also feel that there are opportunities now for us to expand upon what we have started, tested, and learned from at Penny University. When and where those opportunities are likely to arise and be deployed is still largely unknown, but we eagerly look forward to the opportunities that await us in future retail endeavours.

It would be remiss of us not to deeply and sincerely thank the following people:

Tobias Cockerill, for diligently and tirelessly working one of the most demanding and exhausting coffee bars in the world, and for representing both our company and the craft of coffee brewing in the most professional, yet approachable way possible. Alex Goforth and Gwilym Davies, for also working the bar despite their already busy schedules, and doing so with great competence and affability. Anette Moldvaer, Jessica MacDonald and John Gordon, for providing the essential, yet often thankless and overlooked support of sourcing, roasting, production and build-out. Paul Stack of Marco Systems, for unwavering technological generosity and support, and everyone at Aesop for being such wonderful hosts.

And finally our deepest thanks to each and every guest who took a seat at our bar, placing their trust in us as both baristas and hosts, accepting and embracing our limited range and policy of no condiments. We hope that we managed to show you just how easy it can be to produce simply wonderful and delicious coffee at home, and we hope that your time in our store was rewarding, informative, but most importantly, enjoyable.
In months to come we will be exploring future retail opportunities, and fully expect that our Penny University bar will be featured prominently in the next project we undertake. For now, however, we’d like to say concisely and succinctly, thank you.

Tim Williams & James Hoffmann
Square Mile Coffee Roasters