Bea’s of Bloomsbury

Someone said of Bea’s of Bloomsbury: “as much cake as you can imagine”. Now, that sounds like a challenge to me, and I can imagine a lot of cake. For fans of Radio 4’s excellent Cabin Pressure, this is very reminiscent of the Ottery St Mary episode and the question: “how many otters can you imagine?”. So, suitably forearmed with an imagination full of cake, I arrived at Bea’s of Bloomsbury and I wasn’t disappointed.

Bea’s does cake. It seems a shame to gloss over the lunches, sandwiches, tea, coffee and afternoon tea, but seriously, Bea’s does cake. In a big way. The Bloomsbury branch (which is where it all started) is quite small, so as well as functioning as a cosy coffee spot, it also has a stream of takeaway customers who just come for the cake. But if you do take your cake away, you’ll miss out on the best part, that of sitting there and staring longingly at the other cakes. Or maybe that’s just me…

May 2019: Bea’s of Bloomsbury, which was acquired in 2018 by Department of Coffee & Social Affairs, has closed the original Bea’s on Theoblads Road.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Bea's of Bloomsbury on Theobald Road
  • Another view of the store front. Now, what's that sign say?
  • Kick-ass Coffee? Damn Fine Cake! Okay. I'm going in!
  • You step through the door and there is indeed cake. And more cake!
  • Turn around and there's the window-display again. With cake.
  • Once you drag yourself away from the cake, you are confronted by... More cake!
  • I think this deserves a closer look... There's cake, cake, cake, brownies, marshmallows, meringue. I think I'm going to have to sit down.
  • Fortunately there are lots of seats... All within easy reach of the cake!
  • The all-important espresso machine, with grinder to the left and water heater for the tea-drinkers out there to the right.
  • On the edge: my espresso!
  • I also ordered cheesecake. My espresso keeps a blurry eye on cake counter for me. One day I will get the hang of this depth-of-field lark!
  • Cheesecake! It was so good that I took a slice before remembering I was supposed to photograph it! I think I got away with it though...
  • Cupcake! I liked it so much I took it home with me :-)
  • I was back at Bea's in June 2014, when the sign immediately caught my eye. After a brief hiatus, Bea's was back serving Square Mile coffee (click the picture for the full story).
  • Looking in the window, I felt that something else had changed as well...
  • Stepping inside, I realised that the big cake shelves had gone, replaced by this table.
  • However, cake fans needn't worry. There's still plenty of cake!
  • I was particularly taken by the LGBT cupcakes.
  • So that it wasn't all coffee (& cake), I brought my tea-drinking friend, Kate, along.
  • To celebrate the return of Square Mile, I, of course, had a flat white...
  • ... and my favourite, a cinnamon bun (Kate had a duffin).
  • We sat at my usual table, where I could keep an eye on the cheesecake...
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My visit to Bea’s of Bloomsbury is a testament to the power of Twitter. And of nagging. Nagging, combined with subtle enticement. In short, I was bombarded with pictures of cupcakes over Twitter until I crumbled. Not that the crumbling took very long…

I’m glad that I did though. While Bea’s is only 10 minute’s walk from the British Museum along Theobalds Road, this is a part of London that I don’t know at all and don’t visit, so Bea’s is not somewhere that I would naturally stumble across. Such is the power of recommendation. And the reach of Twitter.

Cake is Bea’s main selling point, which isn’t to do down the tea, coffee or lunches, but the cake is what drew me in and it’s cake that you are confronted with when you walk through the door. Bea’s is long and thin, so you have to edge your way past the cake in order to get to the till. All the while the cakes call out to you, subtly whispering your name. Quite how they knew my name, I’m really not sure.

It’s not a huge place; at a push it will seat 24 if everyone squeezes up. However, if everyone ate all the cake, squeezing up would be nigh on impossible! There is more seating outside, but not much more and you have to contend with the ever-present traffic on Theobalds Road.  Inside, there’s a small group of seats up a short flight of steps, while the rest is downstairs, in full view of the cakes. Did I mention that they do cake? It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.

A lot of thought has gone into Bea’s.  I love the layout and feel of the place. It’s surprisingly relaxed and cosy; with the narrow layout and the constant comings and goings, this led to a never-ending stream people going past my table. Normally I would find that distracting, but in Bea’s I found it comforting.  Although there’s no power or WiFi, I think of it as laptop friendly, largely because on my first visit I sat there with my laptop and wrote this post, feeling right at home.

The espresso I had was good, very short, and while a little too bitter for my taste, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that. To go with it, I had a slice of the ginger and pumpkin cheesecake, not a combination of flavours I’d tried before. I liked it though; the cheesecake being delightfully creamy.

I also had, on recommendation, one of the red velvet cupcakes that was calling my name. However, in the interests of survival, I took it away to eat later on, when I was no longer suffering from the combined sugar and caffeine high. It came in its own very fetching cardboard box and was muttering my name all the way home on the train. Honestly, it was getting embarrassing. The plan was to eat it that evening, but when people started looking at me, I succumbed and ate it on the train. It was excellent!

Bea’s also has branches near St Paul’s Cathedral and opposite Farringdon Station (takeaway only). I feel a need to explore coming on…

44 THEOBALDS ROAD • BLOOMSBURY • LONDON • WC1X 8NW +44 (0) 207 242 8330
Monday 07:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Tables Outside
Tuesday 07:00 – 19:00 Food Cakes, Lunch, Sandwiches
Wednesday 07:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Thursday 07:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa (£5 minimum)
Friday 07:00 – 19:00 Wifi No
Saturday 12:00 – 19:00 Power No
Sunday 12:00 – 19:00 Mobile 3G, Voice
Chain Local Visits Original: 5th October 2012
Update: 27th June 2014

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14 thoughts on “Bea’s of Bloomsbury

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  4. I work within walking distance of this place, but never been tempted because I usually forgo cakes at lunch time. Might pop in just for the coffee though if there’s room some day.
    Surprised you don’t know this area better, you’re pretty close to Leather Lane from here, as well as Lamb’s Conduit (i.e. Espresso Rooms, Prufrock, Dept. of Coffee and a couple other places all within walking distance).
    Also went to Maltby St. for the first time last weekend, pretty decent selection (think we got some interesting cakes from these guys in fact)

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