Subscribe to our newsletter to receive news and inspiration direct to your inbox

Resident Advisor: The Roasting Party

Tim Clarke, co-manager at The Roasting Party shares his tips on making the perfect coffee, picking your beans and selecting the right milk

2 February 2023

Tim Clarke, co-manager of Party at Pavilion

The perfect day in Chelsea would undoubtedly start with a flat white from Party at Pavilion – The Roasting Party’s café on Pavilion Road. For six years, this cosy coffee spot has been keeping Sloane Streeters topped up with brews and treats. If you’ve been there yourself, then you’ll understand why some global visitors make it their first stop when touching down in London. (And if you buy your beans regularly from the store, then why not head to the likes of Hermés or David Mellor in Chelsea to stock up on beautiful cups to drink from?)  

Co-manager Tim Clarke has been with The Roasting Party since the beginning, so we sat down with him to find out what’s involved in barista training, how to make the perfect coffee at home, and more.


What is The Roasting Party’s background?

It started as a wholesale company supplying coffee to cafés around London. When the demand increased, Kirby and Wes, the owners, decided they should have a café of their own, and that’s how Pavilion Road started in 2017. Now, we have three stores in London and more around the UK. 

Kirby and Wes are both Australian and wanted to bring the country’s amazing coffee culture to the UK. So the feeling is very laid-back and fun, but we are serious about making excellent coffee. We love it when our customers come in and have a boogie and a chat while they’re waiting for their drink – hence the name Party at Pavilion.


What’s involved in training to be a barista?

We’re lucky because we roast the coffee ourselves, so you can actually go to the roastery, learn about the different beans and blends that we have and see the roasting process.

When you’re training to be a barista, you learn everything about coffee, even down to how water in different regions affects the taste, and how the flavours are extracted.


Can other people receive the training?

Yes, we offer home-brew training and also do workshops for those investing in The Roasting Party’s wholesale beans. We offer one-to-one sessions for espresso or filter-making here at the shop. 


How do you source your coffee?

We work directly with traders around the world who’ve built relationships directly with coffee farmers. This support system means farmers can produce consistently good coffee while securing the financial future of their local communities. It also ensures that our signature blends remain consistent, and the quality of our single origins is always at the same level. 


What’s the difference between a blend and a single origin?

A blend mixes coffee beans from various origins to create the best flavour, whereas a single origin only uses beans from one area, such as Costa Rica or Colombia. 

Our most popular blends are called Drake and The Party, which we use for coffees with espresso as a base (like a flat white or cappuccino).


Do people need to grind whole beans freshly to make great coffee? If not, how long is pre-ground coffee good for?

If you can grind it at home yourself then that’s better, because the minute you open the bag of coffee the oxygen will get to it and affect the taste. You can get a grinder for a reasonable price at Peter Jones. 

If you can’t grind it at home then make sure the coffee has been recently roasted (there is usually a roasting date on the bag), for optimal freshness. We roast coffee every week, so the bags in our cafés are super fresh.


What tips would you give to people on picking the right beans?

Talk to your barista – they have such a great knowledge of coffee, so if you tell them what flavours you like and your brewing method (a French press, bean-to-cup machine etc), then they’ll be able to recommend something. 

We roast our coffee for different uses, so what you’d use for an espresso-based coffee (I’d recommend our Drake blend), is different from what you’d brew for a filter coffee, which is almost always a single-origin.


What’s the best method for brewing coffee at home without a machine?

There are so many good gadgets. Lots of people use a moka pot at home, which sits on your stovetop. There is also AeroPress, which can be a little intimidating because it looks quite fiddly. The easiest methods are V60, which involves filtering coffee through paper placed in a conical glass over your cup, or a classic French press. 

Here’s my method for making a great French press coffee: I boil the water and then let it sit for a few minutes. Then I’ll measure out the perfect amount of ground coffee into the French press (roughly three grams of coffee for every 50 millilitres of water). I’ll pour a small amount of water in, leave it for 10-15 seconds and then stir to encourage good contact between the coffee and water. 

Then I’ll add the rest of my water, leave it for about five minutes and slowly push the top down over roughly 20 seconds. I never push it fully to the bottom as that risks introducing grounds into the coffee.


And can people use tap water? We’ve heard that there are special kinds of water for coffee.

Water is a big thing that’s covered in our barista training. We don’t use tap water for anything because London’s hard water (containing minerals such as magnesium and calcium, which cause limescale) will affect the flavour of the coffee. Ideally, the water should have a neutral pH balance. Here on Pavilion Road, we have water filters hooked up to all of our coffee machines.

But I think, as baristas, we can sometimes get caught up with the science, and it’s easy to forget that people at home don’t have access to the same specialist equipment. A lot of our customers do buy bottled water to use for coffee-making at home.


Should we all be drinking black coffee?

We test all of our roasting recipes with milk to make sure that however you take yours, it’ll be enjoyable. Our roasters also have regular cupping (tasting) sessions with a whole range of alternative milks to find the best ones to suit our coffee.


What’s the best alternative milk to use in coffee?

We’ve found that oat and almond milk taste best with our style of coffee, so that’s what I’d recommend. The taste can even vary across different brands. We only stock specific brands in our cafés because they are tried and tested to pair with our coffees. But if a customer was to bring their own in, we would happily make them a drink with that.


And finally – instant coffee: good or bad?

Hmmm. I don’t want to say bad but… I’ll never be caught without fresh coffee beans in my kitchen.


Party at Pavilion café, 253 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, SW1X 0BP;

Food and drink in Chelsea

Where to eat and drink in Chelsea