East London

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The Coffee Spot Guide to East London

The towers of Canary Wharf, as seen in the distance from the top of the Shard in 2014.The Coffee Spot Guide to East London includes everything with a postcode starting with E, a massive area which encompasses everything east of the City of London and north of the Thames, stretching out to take in such diverse areas as Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Canning Town and out beyond City Airport. It goes even further north, covering the likes of Hackney and then all points east of the River Lea, going all the way up to Chingford.

It’s an area I’ve not extensively travelled in, so I confess that my coverage is not as good as I’d like, with most of the Coffee Spots I’ve visited being in a narrow strip along the southern and western edges of East London. As such, and as with all these guides, it should not be taken as, nor does it claim to be, comprehensive.

While you’re here, why not check out the rest of the Coffee Guides to London?

Header image: the royal barge, Gloriana, tied up in St Katharine Docks near Tower Bridge.

Coffee Spots

Allpress Dalston

A Kalita Wave filter of Allpress La Esperanza from Guatemala, served at Allpress Dalston.Allpress Espresso isn’t just a major roaster in the speciality coffee scene, with roasteries in New Zealand (where it all started in 1986) Australia, Japan and the UK. It also runs its own roastery/cafés, starting (in the UK) with the original roastery/coffee shop on Redchurch Street which opened in September 2010. Redchurch Street’s still going, but only as an espresso bar, the roastery moving out to its new site in Dalston in May 2015. Naturally, there had to be a café attached, which is the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, while the roastery was subject of its own Meet the Roaster feature back in January.

The new roastery/café is huge, with plenty of room for expansion. The main café, which includes a full kitchen, is downstairs on the left, with an even larger upstairs area at the front that opens at the weekend for brunch. There’s also some lovely outside seating options in a large garden in front of the roastery, which is set back from the road. If you’ve come for coffee, there are different options on espresso, pour-over and bulk-brew, while for food, there are full breakfast and lunch menus, as well as mixed plates, sandwiches and cakes.

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Allpress Espresso

Bags of Allpress Espresso's Guatemala La Espreanza for sale at the roastery.The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster, Allpress Espresso, is at the opposite end of the scale from Weanie Beans, the roaster we met last week. Allpress can be said to be truly international, with roasteries in New Zealand (where it all started in 1986) Australia, Japan and the UK. It’s also pushing the (self-imposed) boundaries of what I started the Coffee Spot to write about. For me, speciality coffee is all about small-scale, independent operations. On the other hand, Allpress, despite its size, still very much has those qualities at its heart.

Allpress has been in the UK since September 2010, when the original roastery/coffee shop opened on Redchurch Street. Redchurch is still going, but only as an espresso bar, the roastery moving out to its new site in Dalston in May 2015 after four years of continued growth. The new roastery has plenty of room for expansion and includes a full café on site, with an upstairs that opens at the weekend for brunch. During the week, you’ll just have to “squeeze in” downstairs.

The café is the subject of a Coffee Spot in its own right: today we are just looking at the roasting side of the operation.

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Brooklyn Coffee

An espresso in a classic white cup made by Brooklyn Coffee using Caravan's Daily espresso blend.Brooklyn Coffee, on the busy Commercial Street in the heart of Shoreditch, has been around for just over three years. During that time, plenty of people have sung its praises and, while I’ve called in a few times, I’ve never been in a position to write it up for the Coffee Spot. Until a fortnight ago, that is.

Brooklyn Coffee is, as the one-word A-board outside clearly states, all about the coffee. Admittedly, there’s a limited breakfast menu, a reasonable selection of cakes, cookies and pastries, plus beer straight from the fridge, but it’s the coffee, from local roasters, Caravan, that takes centre stage. Not that Brooklyn Coffee aims to dazzle you with variety: there’s one option (blend or single-origin) on espresso, with decaf on the second grinder, while filter drinkers have a single-origin available on bulk-brew. Finally, Caravan’s Special Bru blend makes an appearance for the iced coffee.

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Climpson and Sons Café

The front of the Climpson and Sons Café, with the recessed door offset to the right and with wooden benches on the pavement in front of the windows.Located between Cambridge Heath and London Fields stations on the suburban line out of Liverpool Street, and just a stone’s through from the Climpson and Sons roastery (at Climpson’s Arch), the Climpson and Sons Café on Broadway Market is a lovely little spot. The most sensible approach is from London Fields Station, from where you can head directly across the open, green space that is London Fields, heading south until you hit Broadway Market, a delightful street of local shops, cafes and restaurants, several of which spill out onto the pavements. Trust me, this is a much more picturesque approach than wandering the streets from Cambridge Heath…

Coming from London Fields, you’ll find Climpson and Sons a few doors down on the right. It’s not a huge spot, roughly square in layout, with the counter taking up the back third of the store, the front two-thirds given over to seating. Unsurprisingly serving Climpson and Sons beans on espresso and filter, there’s also a comprehensive range of beans for sale. A decent cake selection is joined by breakfast and lunch menus until three o’clock. Impressively, given how busy it is, Climpson and Sons still manages to serve food at the weekends.

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Jonestown Coffee

An espresso in a glass, seen from directly above. The coffee is a single-origin Papua New Guinea bean, served in Jonestown Coffee, Bethnal Green Road.Jonestown Coffee, on London’s Bethnal Green Road, is putting the “lounge” back into “coffee lounge” with an interior that is a throwback to the early years of the millennium, if not the late 90s. That’s not a criticism, by the way; it’s quite lovely inside, very laidback and chilled, which makes a change from edgy hipster places or the “we just threw this place together last night” look. Giant sofas abound, while the décor is dominated by bold, primary colours and strong, geometric shapes, which, after prolonged exposure, can be a bit of an assault on the senses. Unless you sit at one of the two window-bars, of course. Or outside.

When it comes to the coffee part of “coffee lounge”, Jonestown has also gone its own way. You won’t find multiple options on espresso or fancy pour-overs, just the house-espresso, which also goes through the bulk-brewer. What is interesting is the coffee itself, a single-origin from Papua New Guinea, bespoke-roasted for Jonestown by a local roaster. A rare beast indeed, it’s worth a visit just to try it.

There’s also a decent range of sandwiches, as well as soup and salads, backed up with a comprehensive selection of cake.

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Lanark Coffee

The A-board outside Lanark Coffee on Hackney RoadI came across Lanark Coffee when it took over Drink, Shop & Dash (next to King’s Cross Station) in September 2015. Originally, this was only for a trial period, until the end of the year, but the good news is that this was extended for the whole of 2016. To celebrate, I thought I’d call in on the original Lanark on Hackney Road, sticking my head around the door on the last Saturday before Christmas.

Drink, Shop & Dash is pretty small, but Hackney Road is not much bigger. In fact, in terms of floor space, it might even be smaller, but it packs more in, food joining the stripped-back coffee menu of espresso, espresso with milk and individual pour-over through the Chemex. Lanark buys its coffee in small batches of 3-4 kg at a time from (largely) London-based roasters, before moving onto the next one.

Lanark opened in the summer of 2014, the brainchild of Greg and Dom, who split their time between the two sites. However, whenever I’ve been in, I’ve only ever met Greg. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Greg has an imaginary friend, but it does make you wonder…

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A carafe of an Ethiopian single-origin coffee from Koppi made through the Clever Dripper at Lyle's in London.Today’s Saturday Short (published, shockingly, on a Wednesday) is something of a rarity (although it would be rarer still if it was actually on a Saturday!). While speciality coffee shops have made great bounds in recent years, speciality coffee in restaurants lags well behind. Lyle’s, on Shoreditch High Street, bucks this trend, plus it’s gone one better with a dedicated coffee bar inside the restaurant, so you can drink great coffee without having to eat as well. Just walk in, grab a stool at the counter to your right, and off you go!

Lyle’s is a multi-roaster, ordering in coffee from around the UK and beyond. The espresso changes every few days, while the filter, which is through the Clever Dripper, changes every week or so, with two different beans available. There’s also decaf. If you want to eat, Lyle’s serves lunch from 12:00 – 14:30 and dinner between 18:00 – 22:00.

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Modern Society

A gleaming, chrome Modbar grouphead in action at Modern Society on London's Redchurch Street.I first discovered Modern Society in March when I was invited by roasters, Assembly, to a talk by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood on speciality coffee in capsules. Modern Society, on Redchurch Street in the heart of Shoreditch, is a life-style store with an excellent coffee bar at the front, one of a growing band of speciality coffee shops sharing space with other businesses. Sometimes the coffee side can be a separate business, although in this case, it’s fully integrated with Modern Society.

The result is a delightful, open, relaxed space, although if you think the coffee bar might be a bolt on or after-thought, think again. Modern Society has gone with cutting-edge roasters, Assembly, and has, to my knowledge, the first complete Modbar installation in the UK, with espresso, steam and pour-over modules. There’s also batch-brew through a Moccamaster.

To go with the excellent coffee, served from a very minimalist/concise menu which eschews names and simply lists sizes (espresso, black, 4oz, 6oz, 8oz), Modern Society also offers loose-leaf tea (prepared using the Modbar’s pour-over module) and a similarly-concise food menu, with breakfast and lunch options, all prepared on the counter, where you can sit and watch what’s going on if you like.

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A fine flat white in a classic grey cup at Nkora in Shoreditch.Nkora is a relatively recent addition to London’s speciality coffee scene, joining the ever-growing crowd in and around the coffee hub of Shoreditch. A cosy spot, it’s bigger than it looks. Although the upstairs is small, with just a window-bar and a few tables, there is also a small back yard and, even better, a basement! This opened a couple of months ago and has two pairs of armchairs, plus a large, communal table.

With a small breakfast/lunch menu and an interesting selection of cake, Nkora’s focus is firmly on the coffee. The main roaster is Union Hand-roasted, which supplies the house-espresso, a single-origin Xejuyu from Guatemala. This is joined on filter by two or three single-origins, usually from Union and a guest roaster. These are available through either the V60 or Aeropress.

That I visited Nkora is largely down to Alexandra (aka AKBoogie on social media) who suggested it and joined me for coffee. Alexandra is perhaps best known (by me, at least!) for her ambitious 365 London Cafés project. You can follow her adventures on twitter and Instagram as she visits a (London) café every day over the period of a year. I told you it was ambitious!

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Notes, Canary Wharf

Amazing latte art in my JOCO Cup at Notes, Canary Wharf.It took a while, but speciality coffee has reached Canary Wharf, and, having got here, it’s not going away. There are now two branches of both Taylor Street Baristas (Canary Wharf and South Quay) and coffee shop/roaster, Notes. Although I’ve already written about Notes in Crossrail Place, today’s Coffee Spot, on the concourse of Canary Wharf tube station, was the first I came across when, back in September, I innocently wandered through the ticket barriers and thought “ooh, look, a Notes”.

Sadly I only had my phone, which wasn’t up to adequately photographing somewhere which is entirely underground. It was only last week that I was able to return, proper camera in hand, at a time when there weren’t customers queuing out of the door!

Although small (and with no seats), the Canary Wharf Notes thinks it’s just as big and important as its much larger siblings. While there’s no wine or beer, there are impressive breakfast and lunch menus, a good selection of cake and coffee-kit/beans for sale. The coffee’s what it’s all about though: serving only single-origins, all roasted in-house, there’s espresso plus bulk-brew, and, surprisingly, Canary Wharf consistently serves the best coffee that I’ve had at Notes.

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Notes, Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf

A lovely flat white in a classic white cup, complete with impressive latte-art at Notes at Crossrail Place.For the longest time, Canary Wharf, and the area around it, was a desert when it came to quality coffee. Then along came Taylor Street Baristas, with a second branch in nearby South Quay. Also expanding east is Notes, the coffee-and-wine outfit which now roasts its own coffee and boasts five outlets, including King’s Cross, Moorgate and a branch in Canary Wharf tube station.

The latest Notes is also at Canary Wharf, this time in Crossrail Place, the new station for the Crossrail line. It doubles as a shopping centre, which opened in May 2015, despite Crossrail itself being several years from completion. Notes is on the ground floor and, in an area where businesses tend to keep to office hours and shut at the weekends, it refreshingly stays open late into the evening, as well as at weekends, serving Notes’ familiar mix of speciality coffee, wine, craft beer and small plates.

The newer Notes have outstanding designs and Crossrail Place is no exception. Even though it lacks the mezzanine level of King’s Cross, Crossrail Place might well be my favourite, squeezing itself into a weird space with some aplomb. Needless to say, the coffee is very good as well!

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Terrone & Co at Netil Market

A flat white, seen from above, with a simple tulip pattern latte art.It’s been well over a year since I ventured into northeast London in search of Terrone & Co and the Irrepressible Edy Piro. Back then, I paid a visit to the Terrone & Co stall at the Village Green Market in Hackney Downs. A few weeks later, Edy, the man behind Terrone & Co, decided to rationalise the number of pop-ups and stalls he was running and the Village Green stall was no more. Hopefully the visit I paid to Terrone & Co’s original venue at Netil Market on the last Saturday before Christmas won’t provide a similar kiss of death…

Occupying a convenient pitch right at the entrance to Netil Market, which is on the south side of Westgate Street, between the railway lines and London Fields, Terrone operates out of an old container (similar to the one that Beany Green uses on the South Bank). Although the operation is strictly takeaway (so bring your own cup), there are a couple of tables should you want to take the weight off your feet and, as well as coffee, Terrone also serves a wide range of spirits from its well-stocked shelves. Beware though: Terrone & Co only opens on Saturdays.

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Treves & Hyde

A lovely espresso, pulled on Treves & Hyde's Mavam Espresso machine using Volcano Coffee Works' Full Steam espresso.On the edge of Whitechapel, a stone’s throw from Aldgate and Aldgate East tube stations, stands Treves & Hyde, simultaneously a coffee shop, restaurant and bar, all tucked underneath the Leman Locke apartment hotel. I always thought that the coffee shop part of Treves & Hyde was in a basement, so I rather surprised to find it on the ground floor, with the restaurant on the first floor. I couldn’t tell whether I was disappointed, because I really like basements, or pleasantly surprised, since it’s such a lovely space. Probably both, in equal measure.

However, the real draw (for me, at least) is that Treves & Hyde has the UK’s first Mavam espresso machine (there's now a second at Tab x Tab in Westbourne Grove). One of the new breed of modular espresso systems, the Mavam’s bulk is hidden, tucked away below the counter, leaving only the group heads and steam wands to rise gracefully from the counter top. This leaves an open, uncluttered counter, in keeping with the coffee shop’s dual purpose of serving beer, wine and cocktails alongside the coffee. For those less geeked-out than me, Treves & Hyde serves Volcano Coffee Works’ Full Steam espresso, along with a decaf from Old Spike Roastery, plus a single-origin on bulk-brew.

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White Mulberries

White Mulberries in St Katherine DockWhite Mulberries is one of those hidden gems of the London Coffee Scene that you really need to know about if you’re going to find it. Tucked away in the lovely St Katherine Docks, opposite the lock with the Thames, it’s not the sort of place you’d casually walk past. However, once you’ve found it, chances are you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, even though the area is awash with cafes (I walked past five on my way to White Mulberries).

Run by husband and wife team Peyman and Rana, I was immediately struck by the friendly, welcoming atmosphere. It helps that the coffee, from London roasters, Allpress and Nude Espresso, is very good, while the cakes are excellent, but what makes White Mulberries stand out from the crowd is the warm welcome you get. It’s not a huge space and there’s not that much in the way of seating, but it’s the sort of place that makes you want to come back time after time.

April 2014: White Mulberries won "London's Best Coffee Shop" in the inaugural London Coffee Stops Awards!

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If you don’t like lists or just want to see where everything is, you can use the map to find your way around. Note that this shows the closest 50 Coffee Spots to the centre of the E postcode region, not just those Coffee Spots in the E region.

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