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A little trip down memory lane...

Algerian Coffee Stores has been in our family since 1946 and still remains a true family business. Daniela and I have been working alongside Dad for many years and helping him run the shop, and today it is mainly us at the helm while we try (!) and get Paul to put his feet up a little.

This month it is our chance for a little trip down memory lane. We hope you enjoy it…

We really have been here all our lives and it is more than a workplace, more like our second home. We used to come to work with Dad some Saturdays and during school holidays to “help” him, get some work experience and earn a little pocket money..... and get treats!

The photo below is a treasured one, the only one we have of Dad, Daniela and me together at work all those years ago. 

I remember one of our best treats was a croissant for breakfast from Patisserie Valerie, back when it was the original, and only, Patisserie Valerie. The croissant was always so big, and fresh, I used to love peeling away the layers and taking my time eating it.  

We were always given the jobs of highest importance – or so Dad always led us to believe. One of my jobs was to draw all the lines in the banking book and date all the pages. This was a very important job because “without those lines we can’t do the banking and therefore the business can’t run”- the things children believe, I was so proud to be given such responsibility! Though I also remember the look on Dad’s face when he realized I’d skipped a page and all the dates were out of sync!

Without showing our age, this was in the days before computers, so ledgers and invoices were hand written and copies taken via sheets of carbon paper placed between the pages. We had very large sheets of carbon paper that needed cutting to size, and yes, that job was for us too. In the office I used to love to play on the typewriter and was given some typing jobs…. until all the spelling mistakes just made it more hassle than it was worth! 

We also had to polish all the brass weights for the coffee scales, a very important job also as we were “in charge of keeping the shop presentable and making a good impression” and why the smell of Brasso evokes childhood memories. We still have those weights now; the photo below shows some of them. The large ones at the back are 4lb, 2lb, 1lb and 8oz.

I did also get to serve, and I had to have a box to stand on to reach the grinder and till. I loved the till – It was the very old style where you had to punch in the pounds button, then the 10, 20, 30, etc pence buttons and then the 1, 2, 3 etc pence buttons then hit the main ring to ring up the sale and the numbers popped up. Customers were always very kind and patient with me, or so I thought...

The teas were always packed in paper bags and folded in a very particular way and for years I struggled to get it right. Watching, learning, and practicing with the other staff helping me - those bags were my nemesis! And just when I learned how to get my packets presentable…. Dad changed the way we close the packets! Every so often I close the bags in the old style just to prove I can still do it!

The 5lb coffee bags used to be plain brown paper, Daniela had the task of stamping them with the “Algerian Coffee Stores” rubber stamp. She was also in charge of filling the elastic band box and sharpening pencils! ..now that is a responsibility!

And of course, we had to keep up the sweeping of the shop!

Here I am on coffee duty...or just posing ?!

Sometimes we helped weigh out the confectionery. I remember we used to weigh the chocolate covered coffee beans, and we also used to weigh and sell Belgian chocolate seashells…I hold my hands up, a few always got stashed away…in my mouth! We also used to sell our Chocolate Covered Figs individually, and while there was no one looking I used to grab one of them too and run off. It was quality control - That’s my excuse. After all these years we have come clean and told Dad so we can print this without fear of getting told off.

Two doors up from us there is a newsagent, many years ago the shop was run by a wonderful man called Peter. Daniela and I were often sent to go and buy Dad his paper, or stamps, or pens and Peter would always give us a pack of sweets - I remember sometimes Opal Fruits or Fruit Pastilles. He knew the way to our hearts! So obviously we were eager to check if anything was needed and would happily volunteer to go to Peter and buy it.

One of Daniela’s fabulous memories is of a lady called Mary - A local homeless lady whom Daniela recalls as very petite, with long black hair, perhaps in her late 50’s and Mary never spoke. She used to come for coffee on a Saturday and sit on the stalls that we used to have in the shop, just quietly drinking her cup of coffee and Dad used to make Daniela read the paper to her. Daniela used to notice something a little strange about Mary, her clothes were familiar…. turns out they were, she was wearing my pyjamas! As I grew out of them Dad used to bring them for Mary.

And like all great family businesses the next generation are getting their taste of Algerian Coffee Stores, throughout the years Daniela’s children have come down to help us out…and following in Dad’s footsteps we gave them the “very important” jobs. The photo above are Daniela's children helping out quite a few years ago, they were on price gun duty!  As the years pass and they grow we can draft them in to help us during school holidays and Annalisa is here most Saturday’s helping us. Here is a photo during the Christmas chaos, three generations all mucking in and getting the job done.

This was Phoebe's first trip to the shop, reading up on the pricelist. I had planned to have her here working immediately but the pandemic put a hold to that. 

Phoebe is still little and causes havoc…like a perfect little toddler. Though she does help me when I work from home…she scribbles in my diary, all over my lists and presses buttons on my computer that shouldn’t be pressed!  Here she is below on a recent visit to the shop, with her Auntie, counting coffee beans - It is where it all begins!


Algerian Coffee Stores has always been in our lives and will remain in our hearts forever. It is not easy, and we certainly have our stresses but the kind words we often receive from our customers truly make it all worthwhile and they have never meant more than over the last couple of years. And often, when we read the kind messages, they bring a tear to our eyes. 

I hope you have enjoyed our little trip down memory lane, we have so many fabulous memories we could be here forever! We will gather more for another blog perhaps... along with some more photos, I am sure I have some rather embarrassing ones stored in my loft. 

Thank you for reading.

Marisa x


I have fond memories of your store. And love the website. I spent a few years working in the store with your dad paul and an irish lady liolla back in the 90s. Miss this place was always lively and buzzing with wonderful atmosphere. And dont let me forget the beautiful coffee yummy!!! ;)

I loved this blog – thank you! I became a loyal customer back in 1993 when I moved into Rupert Street and used to pop in for supplies after a long lazy breakfast in the glorious original Pat Val (yes, those croissants… I can taste them still!)
Like others, over the years you have followed me around courtesy of Royal Mail, and as my life became more global I always managed to pack the taste of my old Soho home. You got me into terrible trouble though: I was posted to South Africa on a government job and it didn’t occur to me that a big bag of Russian Caravan tea and Velluto Nero coffee counted as “food” – which is one of the items not allowed in the diplomatic bag. Apparently it was, and my hopeful on-line order was duly destroyed and I had my wrist slapped very hard…
Happily I just moved back to London so I can come in and enjoy the glorious smells and the bustle – and be transported back to memories of times past. Keep on writing for us!

Both sides of my family had shops in the area at the beginning of the 20th century. One was a tiny upstairs chandler’s shop that didn’t do well (that side of the family had a long history of poverty.) The other side, the Sullivan’s shop, did much better. They had a grocer’s shop just off the Seven Dials. We have a photo of the outside of the shop from before WW1. The whole area at the time was as multi-cultural as it is today. Indeed, the area from Soho and across to Holburn and St Pancras has a long history of people from all over the world who immigrated by boat up the Thames and made their homes there.

Think of Charles Dickens’ character Fagin. He lived in a slum area which was where the Holborn Viaduct is now, so just round the corner from where my family was from. My family history is of immigrants from Ireland and France (going back a few centuries).

The Sullivans sold cheese, milk, deli meats, possibly coffee too, and anything else to meet such a diverse if often poor market.

But because the area, even then, was also a place of theatres and other, erm, establishments (!), they catered for the wealthy too. I have mentioned to you before that back in the beginning of the century, the shop would often stay open late at night to service late-night revellers. All the shops in the area did. At those times (1860s to 1930s) you never missed an opportunity for a sale and shop hours were long.

Sadly, the shops closed somewhere around the first world war, long before I was born. I think I would like to have a little shop in the area now. So I think it is wonderful that your shop is still going strong, and I hope it continues for generations to come!

I have been a customer for 9 years now, I always recommend you to anyone looking for good coffee. A great blog this month with history of your store, I wish you all the best for now and to continue for many years!

Keep it going. Your coffee keeps me going. Has done for years.


We left London five years ago to move to the west coast of Scotland. Your coffee is the best present I ever bought my husband, fabulous online service, a wonderful daily treat that reminds us of our London days. We miss the store!

Thank you for writing such an interesting blog. It was lovely to read all about the family. Have been buying coffee from you for a long time but I missed visiting you over the last two years. There is something very special about walking into your shop which always makes me feel emotional. Your mail order has kept us fully supplied with wonderful parcels of Algerian Special arriving; simply the best website for ordering, so easy to use. Thank you all so much

As I told Marissa before I must be an unusual mail order customer. I live in a moorland village in North Yorks and as all know nothing is tighter than a Yorkshireman. Well I have encouraged two people to do mail order and I will take any opportunity to add to that number.

I have such good memories of the Algerian Coffee Stores where I first started buying my coffee in 1968. Soho has changed so much since then, when I did all my food (and wine) shopping, then lugged it home on the tube to Kew.
Thankfully the Algerian Coffee Store is still there with its lovely red painted front and now that we live in Suffolk it is great that we can order on-line.
When I telephone it is brilliant to talk to such great staff.

I love reading your blog, please keep going. Our youngest son who lives in London introduced us to your coffee and now, years later, I can’t imagine starting my day any other way. A bowl of porridge and a pot of your coffee and the day looks much better.

Thank you for sending the new link, I just thought that I had been a bit slow!
I am a Londoner, but now live on Vancouver Island. Whenever I am in the UK we make a pilgrimage to your wonderful perfect shop. We love that it looks just like it does and has done forever.
Our favourite is Villa Rosa. It has become a tradition to always have at Christmas, a challenge from overseas, but I am delighted to say, followed last Christmas.
Thank you for being there and sharing your memories.

Hello Marisa, hello family
After such a great blog I feel now that I need to contribute in some way.
I first started visiting the Algerian in the 70’s when I was a croupier at the Golden Nugget Casino and ever since have been either popping in for my coffee or ordering online.
The warmth you guys consistently extend is extraordinary. As you can imagine I have had many ‘adventures’ and experiences over the last 50 odd years and can honestly say the Algerian has been a precious constant to me in all that time.
The photos in this particular blog brought back many emotions.
You won’t know me but to me you are all truly special people and I thank you all. Long may you and the magical ‘Algerian’ philosophy continue!
Thanks again


No worries, we received and enjoyed ours.

Many thanks,

Thanks for the blog, I always enjoy reading it.
Please keep it going and keep the Algerian Shop the very special place it is, where I still try to buy all my coffee. Gradually the other much loved icons I have lived with in London for decades are disappearing – Gazzano’s on Farringdon Road, Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street, The Gay Hussar on Greek Street … so many. Each one takes with them a little piece of my heart and a little piece of what has made London such a wonderful place to live.
So, stay where you are, and keep doing what you do for at least few more decades – enough to see me out.


I am grateful to one of our daughters who pointed us to your fascinating historical article.
It had me looking in my filing cabinet where I still have newsletters from 2001 to 2013 and the May 1993 price list.
These days I don’t often go to London but hope many others will keep the shop flourishing. A real shop with real people is so much nicer than mail order / online.

I love your blog . We have been mail order customers for years and have moved round uk and had children during that time . I remember ringing in an order when we lived in Nottingham , the baby wailing away in the background and having a sympathetic chat with one of you . That baby is about to celebrate her 42nd birthday ! Take care everyone

I have similar memories! When I was a child my Dad ran a village fruit and veg store in a small village in Somerset. He was known for making paper cones with the newspaper to sell potatoes in!
We also had scales with brass weights. I can also remember ruling the lines in his books.
A salesman came one day to sell my Dad new scales. He thought that no one could accurately give the price and weight of some vegetable, I can’t remember exactly what. My Dad gave such a precise answer that the salesman gave up and lost the sale .
Those are great memories!

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