Hackney coffee roastery enjoys lockdown boom

Dark Arts coffee roastery Hackney

Jamie Strachan and Brad Morrison in the Dark Arts roastery in Homerton Hackney - Credit: Andrew Goss

Cult coffee roastery Dark Arts has seen a 1,000 per cent growth in sales during the pandemic and launched its own YouTube channel.

When he started out in 2014, Brad Morrison was the sole employee, ploughing his passions for good coffee, the occult, 70’s hippy culture and biking into the Homerton-based brand.

A year later, Morrison met Jamie Strachan, who became head of coffee, importing ethical beans from all over the world, which are roasted in-house - making just enough for two months supply to ensure it's always fresh.

Morrison's wife Talia ran their I Will Kill Again cafe which was forced to close during the first lockdown - just as Dark Arts saw their online sales boom from fans eager to get their coffee fix. The two-storey roastery on a former metalworks site has expanded considerably over the past 12 months.

Morrison said: "The lockdown hit us with a massive rise in online sales which took us by surprise and had us scrambling to deal with it. We hired a couple of extra pairs of hands, rearranged our roastery, and got stuck into trying to offer the best service we could because we knew that our success at this time would be completely dependent on the service we offered."

That included a midday cut-off for same day dispatch. "It's a kick getting messages from people who are stoked that their orders arrived in less than 24 hours, even beating Amazon in some cases," he added.

They also boosted Dark Arts' social media presence with a YouTube channel offering brew guides, interviews, discount codes and competitions giving away thousands of pounds of equipment - not only do they sell boxes of beans, ground coffee and pods, but Dark Arts Hackney's online shop offers grinders,  kettles, filter papers, cups, football scarfs, and pins bearing the slogan 'Eat the Rich Drink the Pour.'

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They also opened takeaway kiosk The Dark Arts Coffee Bar at the roastery in Rosina Street, where fans can buy a coffee and look around, and where there is space to hold events, workshops and exhibitions.

"We are still quite new but we are learning hard and fast," adds Morrison. "We take the majority of our decisions after a few beers on Friday but it's working! We have lots planned for 2021 and want our locals to be part of the ride."

Dude Ranch one of the Dark Arts Coffee blends

Dude Ranch one of the Dark Arts Coffee blends - Credit: Andrew Goss

Dark Arts bestsellers, ground to suit any coffee maker, include: Raise the Dead from Ethiopia with sweet pineapple, strawberry and mango fruitiness (250g £11.50); Dude Ranch: family grown Brazilian beans with notes of black grape, Brazil nut and chocolate (250g £9); and Lost Highway (available loose or as pods) from Minas Gerais, with satsuma acidity and sweet chocolate. Weekly, fortnightly and monthly subscriptions are available from £10 at https://www.darkartscoffee.co.uk/

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