Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Collective 159 – Camden’s New Artisanal Home

During my stay in Camden this week, my co-worker Rebekah and I had a great time discovering a new pop-up market called Collective 159. Excited to uncover this newfound treasure, we proudly spread the news to our co-workers, many of whom haven’t yet heard of it nor tried it. We felt we broke new ground, no longer the clueless Americans ;)

Exactly what its name implies, Collective is indeed a collection of creative vendors who showcase and sell their wares. From indie coffee producer Black Sheep to an artisanal baker called Brookes and Jones to various clothing and accessories vendors, the market has a way of feeling eclectic and rich even though its actually modest in size.

Loving Collective’s rustic look, it has a hint of industrial flare. Exposed wooden beams, a concrete floor and exposed light bulb fixtures very much give it that creative, “makey” vibe. The food and coffee vendors are set up out front and even though the market officially opens at 10 a.m., these guys are up and running much earlier.

Food Vendors:
Drawn in by Black Sheep’s tantalizing smell of fresh coffee and Brookes and Jones’ beautiful cupcakes, Rebekah and I paid a visit here each morning.

Black Sheep Coffee
– Started by four staunch coffee loving friends, Black Sheep is very much a labor of love and their coffee exemplifies just that, with each sip. Made of 100% Robusta coffee, the antithesis of a light roast, its namesake fits well and clearly exemplifies its “undiscovered treasure” qualities.

As I usually do when I’m in London, I ordered a flat white each time, consisting of 6 oz of heaven (2 of which are dedicated to pure espresso while leaving the other 4 for foamy delicious milk). The coffee wasn’t a large one but the taste was so expressive and flavorful that a small cup was just enough. The actual coffee had a deeply rich taste, expressing notes of dark chocolate and bourbon. Mmmm…

Brookes and Jones – Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I can’t resist a good looking cupcake or dessert in general. Margaux, Brookes’ owner and head baker had various little delicacies up her sleeve each morning, with the cupcakes being just one aspect. It was interesting to see a mix of traditional (Jones) desserts mixed in with experimental ones (Brookes), which is what Margaux’s company stands for – a fun mix of old and new.

While I enjoyed the peanut butter cupcake I got last week, what really got me is her flapjack, which is something a lot more English and traditional. Made up of rolled oats soaked in honey and brown sugar (and lots of butter for good measure), the flapjack was a perfect little bar that’s suitable for breakfast or just a mid-day snack. I used it for both purposes actually, truly savoring it, which made me very happy.

Service and Cost:
Because Collective’s vendors are talented artisans who have in some cases quit their corporate jobs to pursue a dream, they’re warm and hospitable and you can converse with them freely about their products. I really enjoyed this personal side of their business and looked forward to the few short but lovely minutes I’d chat with Margaux about her favorite desserts and London restaurants, or with the guys from Black Sheep about the way coffee is made.

Costs are comparable to neighborhood London prices, and maybe slightly a little higher, but it’s all worth it. A flat white will set you back about 2.20 pounds (approx. $3) while that delicious flapjack was just 1.50 pounds (or $2)

3 Mmmms

Collective 159 – 159 Camden High Street, Camden, London
Underground to Camden Town Station

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