London is a pretty savage place for a newcomer. People climb over one another to get ahead (literally in the case of the Underground and general commute, and figuratively within whichever company they’re employed), and with growing pressure to succeed, it’s not out of the realms of possibility to think businesses do too. One little food cart is directly place next to another food cart in the same market. Of course there’s competition. So when we were invited down to Brixton to see what happens when local businesses scratch each other’s backs, I was most intrigued. For £10, guests get entry, beer and a pizza. Not bad at all, huh?
So, Stir Coffee is, quite simply, a stripped-down, rustic coffee shop half the way down Brixton Hill. Bleached wood panelling, knock off furniture, plants that only a grandmother would love and exposed walls are contrasted again the sleek and polished high tech coffee-making equipment that lines the workbench. Their baristas serve paint-stripper strength coffee at around £2-3 per cup, a necessity to function throughout the day, while also stocking London Beer Factory craft ales, a necessity to get you through the following day. All that’s needed to complete the necessity three-way triangle is food, and step forward local pizzeria Made of Dough.
The idea of the three businesses supporting each other in one is really cool. We entered the event not really sure what to expect. Pizza and coffee doesn’t really work, does it? But the buzz itself was tangible. There were around seven London Beer Factory beers to taste using their new 360 degree technology that allows you to open the entire top of the cans, and three coffee based cocktails.
As we drank and socialised with the little business and their patrons, we forgot we were there for an event. It seems like we’d gone for a night out with friends. And the best thing about the night as a whole? Knowing it wasn’t a one off. The London Beer Factory and Stir Coffee event will run once a month with a selection of local vendors, street food stalls, musicians and artists all attending and working together to rally the community and bring in stragglers from afar.
To the craftily created cocktails, and as a drinks connoisseur (title given to me by myself), the coffee negroni medley was a lovely way to start. It’s genius really. Cocktails and coffee. With a classic mug of tea thrown in for good measure, they are the two drinks that prop up British society. Next it was the Stout Russian – a mixture of London Beer Factory Stout, coffee and a Black Russian. Sounds heavy? It was. There’s a reason this was a good one to try second. After a couple of craft beers and Made of Dough’s beautiful (if unsliced) Chorizo pizza, it was time to end the evening with the Stout Bomb, a coffee and beer twist on the jagerbomb.
Needless to say our journey back to Liverpool Street was a hazy one. Man, they were good cocktails (drink responsibly folks). And it got me thinking. If businesses in other areas – probably with the exception of central London – did this, how much traction would it get? What about a local pizzeria working with a local nightclub who worked with a local taxi service? The possibilities are endless. And in the world we live in, it’s probably not a bad thing. Community is important to our generation. So hopefully it’s something we’ll see more and more.