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London Coffeehouse Crawl - East Part 1
European correspondent has bean (get it?) hitting old Londontown
Just in time for your Christmas holidays, European correspondent Matt Sime has been checking out east London’s best and brightest coffee spots.
London has had a long history with coffee, sporting coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries; originally places for yarns (“conversation and commerce”, if you don’t mind me citing Wikipedia), where a penny got you admission and a drink. This is in the days prior to the cost of living crisis, so this would be about £3.50 in today's money.
This thriving vibing coffee scene seemed to stagnate and vanish through Britain's colonial decline. When I moved to London in 2008, as an avid coffee enthusiast, I was somewhat shocked at the absence of coffee. Where Wellington’s cafe-to-population ratio is quite high, London’s really was the antithesis. There were two noteworthy cafes, Flat White in Soho, and Sacred by Carnaby Street, as well as the infamous Monmouth Coffee Roasters in Seven Dials. This was all I could find, which ultimately is not many, if any. Disclaimage, I get that there will be other cafes that I was ignorant of, and I would love to hear your yarns of what I missed in the comments section :)
Well, fast forward to 2022, and there are so many cafes that we cannot easily enjoy them all in a day. So, here comes the first (of many) coffee tours of London, and we begin by skimming around Hackney.
My last coffee tour was a bike tour around Auckland. I was hoping this would have been the same scenario, but my bike was recently stolen 😅.
Location: 78 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AH
This Indonesian cafe is a small family business, born out of hard work and an absolute passion for coffee. They offer different beans from Indonesia for sale, and a few really beautiful traditional foods in their cafes too.
I am always greeted with such sincere kindness from the barista, and his oat flat whites have been consistently incredible. Just writing this I am mentally trying to re-shuffle my day to see if I can manage going there again.
There are actually two Ngopis, and I am dying to one day head up and check out their Birmingham cafe: 56 Dale End, Birmingham B4 7LS.
Location: 55 Dalston Lane, London E8 2NG
Location notes: across the road from Ngopi.
Allpress is a Kiwi cafe! And they’ve gone proper gangbusters. I didn’t appreciate how massive they were until I hopped on their website, and their coffee appears in countless stores across five countries.
They’ve created a really cool hangout space in this cafe/roastery, and this looks like your standard (dreamy) Wellington cafe, bustling with vibe and noise. I think the weird thing for me is this sort of cafe exists in Wellington in the heart of a CBD, whereas here we’re miles from commercial endeavours, but this place is going off nonetheless.
Give me a luke warm summer’s day and I will be working from their beautiful city-haven styled courtyard.
Location: 396 Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH
The home of pains and gains. This is probably one of the top bakeries in London. They are not just delivering a perfected finished product, but they have a cookbook, and run a thriving and respected baking course.
It’s a fun vibe there, and the cafe doubles as a hipsters’ remote-working paradise. The staff are busy but kind, and are encouraging of all of my questions or chat.
Their toasted cheese sandwiches + soup of the day lunch special is one of my weekly rituals, and obviously all of their baked goods are sensational.
Location: 211 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8AN
Location notes: This is very close to the canals, which - aside from being dreamy to walk down - connect you to the vibing Broadway Market, the Broadway Markets (i.e. the markets that appear on Broadway Market which you can find in full swing Saturdays, and food-only on Sundays), and Victoria Park Market (Sundays).
Moko Made is a very perfect hygge haven from the cold dark days of London. The vibe is both bustling yet private, and it is the sort of place you will either meet friends, or get lost with a book. I know I’m drifting from the core-coffee roots of this blog, but I must say the Moko Made’s matcha lattes are delicious happiness in a cup.
Opening Hours: None! Hibernating for Winter
Location: 42 De Beauvoir Cres, London N1 5RY
Honestly, the coffee was so average, I didn’t resonate with the staff, they don’t have bathrooms, and you will always have to queue to enter. Despite this train-wreck of a lead in for a review, I UTTERLY love this cafe.
The cafe is situated literally on Regent’s Canal, and the food is homely and fulfilling! It’s pan-ethnic comfort food at its finest. The slow service is a highlight, as you feel absolutely no rush, and you can sit back and watch the world go by.
There is an endless circus of puppies walking their humans, as well as cyclists attempting to ride at road-speeds amongst the crowds; they assert their urgency to pass whilst barely avoiding a watery demise. I have no doubt that all of these cyclists will feel the soggy touch of the Regent at one time or another in their lives.
I sincerely hope you all get a chance to people-watch along the canal next summer.
Coffee Van (?)
Location: Victoria Park
When: Victoria Park market day (Sundays)
I forgot the name of this coffee-truck, but I’m sure based on this photo alone you can locate it again.
Lovely coffee. Takeaway, obviously. Beautiful vibe. Fun suggestion: enjoy dog-watching and a beautiful stroll while you sip away.
That’s a brief tour of a few of the locals, and there are plenty more I need to add in a future post. I hope you all enjoyed. Let me know if you have any requests or suggestions of places I need to check out here too.
There you go! East London in the house, with plenty more to come.
If you’re a London local or have some mad recommendations, chuck them in the comments below and we’ll send Matt out to try them.