Coffee Spotlight – Dear Coco

by | Jan 20, 2022 | Blog, Coffee Spotlight

Since we first started roasting beans on English soil back in 2013, we’ve had the privilege of supplying some incredible businesses and, along the way, getting to know the heroes who run them. Seeing every customer week in, week out is a non-negotiable for us – it’s how we get to call our customers friends.

And so it seems only right that we dedicate a portion of our online real-estate to them, our awesome wholesale customers, through our new Coffee Spotlight blog series. Each month, we’ll lift the lid on a different coffee business, and find out how The Roasting Party coffee works for them.

We’re stoked to kick things off with fellow Aussie Anthony Duckworth, owner of Dear Coco Street Coffee in Chiswick.

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What’s the concept?

Dear Coco is a London street coffee business. We serve Australian-inspired speciality coffee, whole beans, ground single origin, artisan bakes, and a little sweet shop from a beautifully converted Piaggio Ape along the River Thames.

Dear Coco is not your traditional mobile coffee van or food truck. Our goal is to create a brick-and mortar cafe experience on the street. Our knowledge, products and equipment reflect a boutique London coffee bar. As a result, the experience stops locals and river walkers in their tracks eager to experience something unique and shareable.

The street coffee business is an expansion of my wife Emma’s business, Emma Duckworth
Bakes. Emma is a published cookbook author, recipe developer, and food photographer. Producing bakes for Dear Coco is the first time the general public can purchase Emma’s stunning baked goods. Forty items are lovingly baked each day, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

I imported the Piaggio from Italy, and had it converted into a beautifully styled and functional street coffee venue that befits the beauty of the River Thames. I wanted to add something special to the riverside experience, rather than take from it.

I also made the decision that I didn’t want to drive around different locations like some coffee vans. Just like a brick-and-mortar coffee bar, I wanted to put roots down and embed the business in the community.

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Who’s involved?

The business is a family love letter to our five-year-old daughter, hence the name Dear Coco. Emma and I have three daughters, and the two older girls Malia (13) and Lani (12) have fun helping with certain aspects, but Coco often gets left behind given the gap in age. So, to balance the scales, it seemed only fair that she got naming rights to the business.

Along with some amazing partners to help deliver a first-class experience, it’s truly a family affair. I launched the business and continue to manage all operational aspects, along with the strategic direction. Emma and Mahali & Co produce the beautiful bakes. Anna, Dear Coco’s Barista, leads the operation most weekends. Our daughters Malia and Lani work alongside myself and Anna as Barista Assistants to help deliver a memorable experience to customers… and earn some pocket money along the way! And Coco… she cheers everyone on from the side-lines!

Partners are critical to the success and quality of Dear Coco. These include The Roasting Party, The Estate Dairy, Mahali & Co, La Marzocco, and a variety of confectionary and operational partners.

Where did it all start, and where are you heading?

Street coffee on the beach was my retirement plan. Serving speciality coffee as an old, weathered surfer to other old, weathered surfers was my dream. But the pandemic encouraged me to chase this dream with a little more urgency.

In December 2020, I stood in the kitchen and told Emma I’d like to borrow tens of thousands of pounds from our savings to build my dream business. There was no formal business plan, not even napkin drawings, or back-of-the-envelope sales numbers. Just a guy who could see it all in his mind. Without flinching, Emma threw her full support behind me. Being the ever-decisive chap that I am, I pushed forward at breakneck speed to build my dream, amongst European importation considerations, unique power requirements to fuel a La Marzocco, and local planning permissions.

Five months later, Dear Coco Street Coffee was born, a mere twenty years earlier than planned.

2022 will see some expansion for Dear Coco. What form this will take is still being discussed. Emma and I are passionate about small, intimate spaces and coffee experiences. Whether it’s another street coffee van, a small hole-in-the-wall coffee bar, or a concession space as part of a larger retail experience – the sky is the limit for Dear Coco. Watch this space in 2022!

How did you find out about The Roasting Party?

I discovered The Roasting Party coffee about two years ago at my favourite Chiswick café, Good Boy Coffee. It was love at first sip! So, when the time came to find a coffee partner for Dear Coco, the choice was easy. I rang the roastery office number and spoke at length to Co-Owner Kirby, and we aligned on the Dear Coco vision. It turned out Kirby knows some of my good mates in the coffee industry, but I love that our connection was made organically before I found out we could have been introduced.

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How long have you been serving The Roasting Party coffee?

Since we opened on 8 May 2021. We get a lot of offers to work with guest roasters or switch coffee partners altogether, but I genuinely feel we already work with the best in the business for what we’re trying to achieve.

Do you have any tips or trade secrets for how to make the perfect cup?

Knowing the techniques is obviously important. But I honestly believe you can taste when a barista deeply respects the art. Coffee is a team sport, and the barista is the final step in a long process.
Anna and I have a deep appreciation for every step in the production process and do our absolute best to honour everyone who has played a role.

Serving coffee out in nature adds extra challenges. Coffee is temperamental. So as the air temperature and humidity change throughout the day we’re tweaking and adjusting the grind – almost hourly. Working with a La Marzocco Linea Mini means every shot is manually timed and watched like a hawk, ready for those all-important little tweaks.

What do your customers say about your coffee?

They tell us they can taste the difference, which is such a compliment. Perhaps it’s our passion and coffee appreciation playing a role. No one can make bad coffee beans taste amazing, so starting with incredible beans is everything. There are some other cafes in our local area doing a phenomenal job – we’re just happy to provide an alternative for when people want something a little different.

And finally, what’s your personal go-to coffee order?

Flat white, 100% of the time. I drink what we serve at Dear Coco – The Roasting Party Drake blend (El Salvador, Colombia, Brazil). With milk you get a dark chocolate, buttery profile… and I like it with half a teaspoon of Panela sugar to add a little caramel tone to it. Yum.

Dear Coco Street Coffee
Location: Opposite 85 Strand on the Green, Chiswick W4 3NN
Trading hours: Friday to Sunday, 7.30am to 3.00pm
@dearcocolondon