Ozone is one of a newish breed of roastery / restaurant / coffee shop combos in London.
Unlike the excellent Worksop (formerly St. Ali) and Caravan, Ozone’s cafe is as much a place to sip coffee as it is to eat grub, and is therefore appropriate for Cosy Coffee Shops.
In fact, it might be unfair to call Ozone a newbie. Having started life as a roastery in New Zealand in 1998 (where it still enjoys success), Ozone has been around in the UK since 2009. The café opened its doors in March 2012.
Like Workshop and Caravan, the roastery side of Ozone’s business is making waves in the UK coffee scene, supplying places such as the wonderful Tamper in Sheffield.
As for the café, it’s a big, imposing place. Taking the industrial coffee shop look to the extreme, it fills two floors of converted, characterful industrial premises.
The ground floor is filled mainly by foodies. Down to the basement, it’s a little quieter. Surrounded by roasting machines, coffee beans and more paraphernalia, it’s a better space for a quiet cuppa.
With so much floor space, it’s testament to the amazing success of this young café that it was nearly full on our visit. The ‘wait to be seated’ arrangement feels a bit odd for a coffee shop; a reflection of Ozone’s duel purpose as a restaurant.
However popular the food, there’s no question that you’re in a coffee place. Apart from the fact that the building also serves as Ozone’s roastery, there is a good range of coffees on the menu, prepared by talented baristas. We had one flat white and one brewed coffee, each of which were delicious.
Early in the day, we visited Ozone’s stall at the 2013 London Coffee Festival (which was consistently busy), for which they later won the Festival’s Best Newcomer award.
The Ozone story is tinged with tragedy, with co-founder Jamie Hodson losing his battle with cancer in 2008. In his absence, the talented team have successfully managed expansion to London, and the company continues to grow.
To read more about the fascinating and melancholic history of Ozone, which started with volunteer work in Guatemala and El Salvador, visit their New Zealand website.
If you’re looking for a small, intimate coffee shop, this isn’t it. But Ozone a terrific place, well worth a visit as much as anywhere in London.
11 Leonard Street
We visited on 27 April 2013.