Knockbox is one the newest and most intriguing coffee places in London. At the time of visit, it had been open just three weeks.
Owner Mete took three months to renovate the premises, on the terrifically hip Lamb Conduit St. He tried four different colours before settling on the particular shade of orange for the back wall (an excellent choice in my opinion). The counter and every chair were hand-crafted.
Mete designed it all himself – he’s not a designer by trade, but enjoys the process and was determined to perfect the details. The chairs feature plywood with copper cut-ins. The copper was terribly expensive but, as Mete puts it, “what’s the point in not going the whole hog?”.
Even the eponymous knockbox was designed by Mete. The tall box, into which the used ‘pucks’ of coffee are knocked, is a standard piece of barista kit, but Mete couldn’t find one the right height. He also wanted one on coasters, but still sturdy. Hence the impressive DIY job.
Before this post turns into coffee shop design 101, let’s move onto Mete’s thoughts on the coffee trade. Mete, originally from Turkey, is a firm believer that coffee must be customer-led. On a day-to-day level, that means he’s happy for customers to have a frothy cappuccino, if requested. A sort of anti-Colonna-&-Smalls philosophy (not that Mete mentioned Colonna & Smalls by name).
Though coffee being customer-led seems to me to be an obvious statement, Mete says bad attitudes in the coffee industry has prevented it from doing right for the customer. He feels the speciality coffee trade in Britain is only just beginning to get over it’s “new” phase, and is beginning to grow up, and starting to put the end user at its centre.
The problem with many cafés, he says, is that they’re too cool. They’re not focused on the customer. Coffee, he says, is so much more than the black liquidy stuff – it’s about the people who serve it, the manner of its serving, and so on. (Well, I certainly won’t argue with that.)
Mete’s own brews, using beans from the well-regarded London roastery Workshop, are very good. My flat white, though, wasn’t spectacular. They rarely are at coffee shops just a few weeks old – it takes time to get it perfect.
So, I left Knockbox with a feeling I often have – contentment after a good coffee at a very well-crafted café.
This time I also felt thoughtful and intrigued after my long chat with Mete, only a portion of which I’ve recounted here.
If I were some kind of barista-overlord (as I surely will be one day), I would prescribe to every barista a 20-minute chat with Mete. It’s likely to be eye-opening.
29 Lamb's Conduit Street
We visited on 30 April 2014.