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Why Delancey Street has had a distinct smell of coffee for 40 years

'Before he died Keith Moon would come in here once a week to buy his coffee'

09 May, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

It is the little shop which keeps a Camden Town sidestreet scented with the tantalising aroma of coffee.

And as the Camden Coffee Shop clocked up 40 years of selling its beans in Delancey Street, its owner George Constantinou, 70, has reassured loyal customers that he has no plans to hang up his apron just yet.

He said: “Every day is a good day here. In Camden you can talk to anybody. It is not like any other area.”

Mr Constantinou took over the shop from a distant relative in the 1970s after losing his job as an engineer.

He said: “I couldn’t open a garage because my brother and cousins had done that already. I wanted to do something different so I thought about opening a dry cleaners. Then I came here and I did it very well. As a child I knew how to roast. It is just something you pick up from watching. Over time I developed my own style of artisan roasting.”

Mr Constantinou grew up in Cyprus before moving to London to pursue studies in electrical engineering. In 1988 the shop was at risk of demolition, but it was saved after a campaign, featured in the New Journal, led by neighbours and customers who rallied to offer their support.

When the New Journal visited this week a steady stream of customers paid a visit including a Camden street sweeper who buys coffee for his family, a resident who moved to the area from the United States last week and a nearby office worker picking some beans up for his colleagues.

Mr Constantinou said: “I don’t ask anyone for their name, whether they are actors, singers or writers. Customers are customers to me and I respect their privacy whoever they are.”

He added: “On Fridays and Saturdays I get tourists coming in. I get lots of people from Algeria and Morocco who take it back to their relatives. I sometimes drop by and deliver to the Camden Head when I am doing my shopping in the morning, but I usually won’t deliver unless I am on my way. Businesses and offices come and pick their beans up from me. My hours are until half-five but if customers come in I am sometimes here until half-seven. I don’t want to let them down but I am 70 and I am getting tired.”

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