Founded by Brad Morrison and Colin Mitchell, Dark Arts Coffee Hackney went from local café and roastery with dedicated following to rocket fuelled online one-stop-coffee-shop with a 1,000% growth of sales through the pandemic
Dark Arts Coffee is a specialist roasters based and founded in Hackney for those who like their coffee as hardcore as their lifestyle. Brainchild of Brad Morrison, Dark Arts began life small, with Brad as the only employee. Blending his passion for good coffee, love for the occult, 70’s hippy culture and biking, Dark Arts have amassed a cult following amongst the coolest caffeine cowboys and cowgirls since their launch in 2014.
Now, their offering spans bestselling ground coffee boxes, a takeaway kiosk on site, specialist coffee kits, merchandise and a huge social media following, including a dedicated YouTube channel.
A year into conception Brad met Jamie Strachan, a true coffee-head who would go on to become Head of Coffee and a vital part of Dark Arts continued success. Together, they work on importing ethical beans from all over the world, which are then roasted and ground in-house, making just enough for two months’ worth at a time, ensuring the product is always fresh.
With their once thriving café, I Will Kill Again (ran by Brad’s wife, Talia Aitchison), closed permanently due to the pandemic, online sales began gaining momentum. Orders soon reached a growth of more than 1,000% fuelled by fans desperate for their fix to be sent straight to their door. This, coupled with an increased presence and popularity on social media, meant despite the odds, the business has not only survived but grown considerably over the past 12 months.
Bestsellers, ground to order (to suit any coffee maker) and available nationwide, include: Raise the Dead: naturally processed from Ethiopia with sweet pineapple, strawberry and mango fruitiness (250g RRP £11.50); Dude Ranch: family grown Brazilian beans with notes of black grape, Brazil nut and chocolate (250g RRP £9); and for those in the market for pods, Lost Highway (also available loose) from the mecca of coffee, Minas Gerais, with hints of satsuma acidity and sweet chocolate (20 pods RRP £10). Weekly, fortnightly and monthly subscriptions are available with prices starting at just £10.
Dedicated drinkers will be keen to explore the selection of kit also on offer though the online shop, from slickly branded limited edition bean grinders and beautiful electric kettles all the way down to filter papers. Also, very popular is the brand’s merch range of limited-edition swag such as cups, football scarfs, and branded pins.
Not only do they sell hundreds of boxes a week from their HQ in Homerton, but also have a successful wholesale arm supplying the coffee for many of London’s hottest cafes and shops including: Shop Cuvée, Norman’s Café and Friends of Ours London.
To expand their offering, they have recently opened The Dark Arts Coffee Bar; a kiosk located within the roastery, where fans can buy a takeaway coffee and even have a gander around the roastery itself.
Dark Arts HQ
Following recent success of pandemic sales Dark Arts have expanded their base to a two-story brick exposed HQ in Homerton, Hackney. The ex-metalworks site is now home to state-of-the-art-coffee roasters, grounding and packaging stations with upstairs gearing up to play host to events, workshops, exhibitions and more. It also sets the scene for their growing YouTube channel where they host interviews and highly ‘informative’ coffee talks in the tongue-in-cheek style they are known for.
In addition to their London operation, in 2016, thousands of miles from Hackney, they expanded their offering to Japan with the opening of Dark Arts, Hayama Kanagawa – a wildly busy beach café run by friends of Brad and Jamie, Jacopo and Maya Cerisola.