For the Good of the People Coffee (Bean About Town South Bank Update)

A shot of espresso from For the Good of the People at the Southbank Centre Food Market in my Kaffeeform cupA long time ago (at least, it feels that way) when I regularly visited London, I’d often wander past the Southbank Centre Food Market. Conveniently on the route from Waterloo Station to Hungerford Bridge (as I stubbornly still call the Golden Jubilee Bridges) it was made even better by the presence, at the foot of the stairs, of the Bean About Town coffee van, a lovely, old Citroen, run by the equally lovely, but not so old, Claire (who shares, by the way, her nationality with the van, both being French). It was one of the first places I wrote about on the Coffee Spot.

However, things change, I ceased to be such a regular visitor, and I didn’t notice when the van disappeared from the bottom of the stairs. Then, last Sunday, with an hour to spare, I decided to wander out of Waterloo and have a nose around the market, whereupon I stumbled upon a big sign saying “Coffee” at the far end of the market.

That’s new, I thought to myself. Only it wasn’t. It was the old Citroen van, with Claire still there, pulling shots. “What’s going on?” you might well ask. What’s going on indeed!

You can see what I found out after the gallery.

  • Wandering through South Bank's Good Food Market, I came across an unfamiliar sight.
  • Well, at first I thought it was unfamiliar, but that Citroen van looks very familiar.
  • Very familiar indeed! It's the old Bean About Town van which was at the foot of the stairs.
  • Even more familiar is the barista, Claire, who used to work the Bean About Town van.
  • The operation, by the way, is 'For the Good of the People'.
  • One nice thing about the new pitch is you can look in through the back of the van.
  • The coffee is normally from The Grand Howl, but while I was there, it was Caravan.
  • There's a fairly standard coffee menu up on the window of the van...
  • ... while at the other end, there's a (summer only?) iced coffee mneu.
  • I decided to have an espresso, so out came my Kaffeeform espresso cup.
  • I'll leave you with two shots of the market. This, from the steps overlooking the old pitch...
  • ... and this from the approach from Waterloo. The new pitch is two rows in on the right.
Wandering through South Bank's Good Food Market, I came across an unfamiliar sight.1 Well, at first I thought it was unfamiliar, but that Citroen van looks very familiar.2 Very familiar indeed! It's the old Bean About Town van which was at the foot of the stairs.3 Even more familiar is the barista, Claire, who used to work the Bean About Town van.4 The operation, by the way, is 'For the Good of the People'.5 One nice thing about the new pitch is you can look in through the back of the van.6 The coffee is normally from The Grand Howl, but while I was there, it was Caravan.7 There's a fairly standard coffee menu up on the window of the van...8 ... while at the other end, there's a (summer only?) iced coffee mneu.9 I decided to have an espresso, so out came my Kaffeeform espresso cup.10 I'll leave you with two shots of the market. This, from the steps overlooking the old pitch...11 ... and this from the approach from Waterloo. The new pitch is two rows in on the right.12
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The original Bean About Town van was part of a small fleet (which included barrows and carts) with several pitches around London. Unbeknown to me, at the end of last year, the owner decided to sell up, offering each of the pitches (and all the equipment) to the staff working/managing them. Thus Bean About Town was no more, but in its place sprang up several new, independent coffee businesses which, I feel, is excellent.

One of these children of Bean About Town is For the Good of the People Coffee (Good People for short). It inherited the old Citroen van, the La Marzocco espresso machine and Claire, the barista who has worked the Southbank Centre Food Market for as long as I’ve been aware of it. As I said, the pitch has changed, the van moving from the foot of the stairs at the southern end of the market to the foot of another set of stairs at the northern end, nearing the seating area at the rear of the Southbank Centre. Just wander around until you see the big sign saying “coffee”.

The layout is pretty simply. The side of the van comes down to reveal the espresso machine and grinder, while there’s a table in front, which acts as a counter and, to either side a long, collapsible bench. These serve the dual purpose of delineating the customer space from Claire and her colleagues’ working space and providing some seating, although you do have to sit with your back to Claire and colleagues which seems rude. Finally, there’s a large umbrella over the whole set-up providing shade/shelter from the rain (take your pick).

When it comes to the coffee, Claire is still serving excellent shots of espresso, with iced options available for the summer. There’s also hot chocolate, chai latte and tea. It’s all espresso only and if you don’t see what you fancy on the comprehensive menu, just ask: I’m sure Claire will make it for you. Of course, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

Talking of coffee, Good People uses The Grand Howl, a small coffee shop/roaster in Hackney that I’d not come across before. With typical timing, I’d arrived the one weekend when Good People had been really busy and had run out, falling back on Caravan’s Daily Blend. I had a shot of this in my Kaffeeform cup, a nicely pulled, well-balanced shot, although I’ll have to pop back when The Grand Howl is back on!

In closing, there is a very small selection of cake, but this is the Southbank Centre Food Market, so you’re not exactly short of cake (or food) options from the other stalls!

SOUTHBANK CENTRE FOOD MARKET • BELVEDERE RD • LONDON • SE1 8XX
www.southbankcentre.co.uk +44 (0) 20 7960 4200
Monday CLOSED Roaster The Gran Howl (espresso only)
Tuesday CLOSED Seating Benches
Wednesday CLOSED Food N/A
Thursday CLOSED Service N/A
Friday 12:00 – 20:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 11:00 – 20:00 Wifi N/A
Sunday 12:00 – 18:00 Power N/A
Chain No Visits Original: 5th October 2012
Update: 4th June 2017

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  1. Pingback: Bean About Town, South Bank | Brian's Coffee Spot

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