The best coffee in the best boroughs – ELL reports on UK coffee week

pic: florinN

pic: florinN

National Coffee Week is upon us, and to celebrate being a nation of coffee lovers ELL headed out to the coffee haunts our readers voted the best in the borough. Your winners were (drum roll please): Café 1001 in Tower Hamlets, the Deptford Project in Lewisham, Matthews Yard in Croydon and Haggerston Tearoom in Hackney.

South and East London has an abundance of excellent places to kick back and relax in. Your four winning venues not only served fantastic coffee and locally sourced food, but also had their own unique take on design, atmosphere and vibe. From the Deptford Project’s iconic location in an old rail carriage to Café 1001’s unconventional use of an old warehouse space, the cafes we visited were certainly unusual. Each independent coffee shop was both creative and community focused – whether they were established after the 2011 riots or purely for the purpose of bringing people together.

If that was not enough reason to set up a coffee business, research is now showing that coffee has become a recession proof industry. Independent businesses have opened and experienced growth during the recession where others have struggled, or even shut down. Our penchant for coffee has been a cultural and business phenomenon of the last decade. The rise in quality independent coffee shops came alongside the introduction of more coffee chains in the UK since the late 1990s; the two types now have a combined turn over of £5bn a year. In 2011, 35 new independent coffee shops opened in the capital and many have been able to open new branches since. And, business advisors predicted the market would grow by 25% between 2009 and 2014, according to Marketing Week.

Good coffee, it seems, might be an affordable luxury that we do not want give up, and sipping it in relaxed café’s while catching up with friends or working is now more appealing than ever.

Derek Lamberton recognised the trend almost two years ago, prompting him to create London’s Best Coffee app. Lamberton said: “I first released London’s Best Coffee in late 2010 as the specialty coffee movement in London was gaining speed. Like many Londoners, I was instantly drawn to both the taste of the coffee and the culture found in these particular independent coffee shops.”

“Places like Dunne Frankowski and Prufrock at Present, both near Shoreditch High Street station, are neither cafe nor simply pop ups, but more homes to the local community of coffee connoisseurs. What interesting is the new wave of extremely good neighbourhood cafes. Both Brown’s of Brockley (Brockley Station) and 46B Espresso Hut (Homerton station) are representative of the thirst for seriously high quality independent cafes that are embedded in their local communities.”

Other contenders in our boroughs were the London Particular in New Cross, Love in Cup in Tower Hamlets, Allpress in Hackney and Coffee Time in Croydon, among many more personal favourites. It’s a shame we could only visit four..


Café 1001

Take a wander down Brick Lane at the weekend and you’ll find everyone crowded around our winning coffee shop – Café 1001. Residents of Tower Hamlets seem to appreciate 1001’s late license and artisan foods, and chose the venue as their favorite place to kick back and relax in the borough. Toby Renton, the café's manager, said that it is well situated in such a creative area, and that 1001 recognises this by catering for musicians and artists. Renton said: “Having this venue is ideal for people to play music and show case their work.” All of their products are prepared daily by in house chefs and a range of healthy drinks and snacks can be found at any time during their opening hours.

We've mapped out all the coffee shops that were voted for by ELL tweeters below. Click on the pins for further information about each one, including contact details, website and street view.

View Coffee Shops in Tower Hamlets in a larger map

Deptford Project

Set back from Deptford’s bustling high street, nestled between a corner shop and Deptford station, stands Lewisham’s winning café The Deptford Project. A symbol of the area’s burgeoning cultural scene, it’s no surprise that this quirky coffee shop was voted best in the borough by our readers. Based inside a recycled 1960s train carriage, its exterior is covered in graffiti art and it sells a wide variety of home-cooked cakes, sandwiches, salads and hot, healthy meals to swathes of hungry locals. It’s been featured in Vogue and Grazia as one of the top ten things to do in South London and ELL readers totally agree. Fifi William’s tweet was one of many votes we received for this unique gem of a coffee shop.

See below for a map of all the independent Lewisham coffee shops that were voted for by Eastlondonlines readers. Click on each pin for further information about the cafe, and get a closer look at each one using street-view.

View Coffee Shops in Lewisham in a larger map

Matthews Yard

Without a doubt, Matthews Yard is a firm favourite among ELL readers. Almost every person voting for a Croydon coffee shop chose this community café, which houses a workspace, lounge, exhibition area and theatre. Set up in the aftermath of the London riots by Saif Bonar, a local entrepreneur, the aim of the café is to be a focal point for community cohesion. The building used to be a Croydon jail, and then it became a supermarket and the basement of that supermarket is where you will find this cafe. The appeal of Matthews Yard is that it is a not just a coffee shop but a community hub; artists have a residency for three weeks at a time and their work gets displayed on the walls of the cafe. A door to one side leads to an office space with plugs for laptops and printers so that people can go somewhere quiet to do work. map below details all the Croydon coffee shops voted for by ELL readers. Click on each pin for more details on each cafe, and take a closer look using street-view.

View Coffee Shops in Croydon in a larger map

Haggerston Tearoom

Haggerston Tearoom is the thrift store equivalent of a coffee shop, with it's 1950s decor and cupcake delights. ELL readers loved this unique tearoom located against the back drop of a local estate, providing a homely, intimate environment for the Haggerston community. The tearoom specialises in loose-leaf blends, believing that the best way to brew a tea is the naked no tea bag approach. James Skinner opened the venue in 2011 after leaving his job in the city, and now Haggerston regulars can choose from locally made cupcakes, rustic style sandwiches and artisan products. Cake flavours will even vary from red velvet sponges to courgette and carrot, and locally made jams and preserves are available for those with a sweet tooth. Last year saw the team take their skills to the Hackney home made food market as part of a brief pop up for tea lovers across the borough.



View Coffee Shops in Hackney in a larger map



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