Second Shot, Bethnal Green

My Peruvian single-origin espresso from Cast Iron Roasters, served in a gorgeous, handleless blue cup at Second Shot in Bethnal Green.Second Shot is somewhere that’s been on my radar ever since it opened on 21st May 2016 (which means that I missed its third birthday by just four days!). A small multi-roaster café, with limited seating outside and not much more in the small, but uncluttered interior, it’s right in the heart of Bethnal Green, around the corner from the underground station and midway between Cambridge Heath and Bethnal Green stations on the overground line.

When it comes to coffee, Second Shot stands on its own two feet, up there with some of the best in London, offering a different roaster on espresso and filter, along with a small brunch menu and a selection of cake. However, where it differs is that it was set up by founder, Julius Ibrahim, as a social enterprise to employ people affected by homelessness, providing jobs in the short-term and careers in the longer-term.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Second Shot, on the north side of Bethnal Green Road...
  • ... seen here from the other side.
  • The door is on the right. Let's go in, shall we?
  • The door includes a welcoming sign, complete with the opening times.
  • Inside, Second Shot occupies a small, simple space, with the counter at the back.
  • There's a clear path from the door, past the retail shelves on the right-hand wall...
  • ... and the table in the middle, which leads you to the counter.
  • There's seating, with a bench and three small, square two-person tables, on the left...
  • ... while there's a three-person window-bar at the front.
  • You get a good view of the A-board from the right-hand end of the window-bar, while...
  • ... the left-hand end doubles as a takeaway station. Handy, since it's next to the door.
  • Finally, a two-person table sits in the middle (good choice of reading material).
  • If you need to rest your back, there are cushions on the bench along the left-hand wall.
  • ... where you'll find Second Shot's mission statement on the wall over the bench.
  • Opposite that, on the right-hand wall, is a small retail selection, mostly bags of coffee.
  • Old friends, Neighbourhood Coffee, are well represented, along with KeepCup.
  • There's more retail kit in the corners. More pressing, though: who's taking pictures of who?
  • There are more plants/kit (and fewer cameras) in the corner at the back.
  • Obligatory light bulb shot (number one)...
  • ... and here's number two.
  • The view of the counter as you approach from the door...
  • ... and here's the view head on.
  • The simple menu is on the wall behind the counter...
  • ... with copies of the brunch menu on the tables.
  • Cakes and pastries, meanwhile, are in a glass display case at the front of the counter.
  • One day I will get a polarising filter for my lens.
  • The espresso machine is to the left, with the filter area behind that against the back wall.
  • You'll also find the tea back here.
  • I decided to keep it simple with an espresso, served in a gorgeous, handleless blue cup...
  • ... which I paired with an excellent almond croissant.
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Second Shot is at the eastern end of Bethnal Green Road, just before the railway bridge and literally around the corner (and across the road) from Bethnal Green tube station. On the north side of the street, it’s a compact place, with a single floor-to-ceiling window running the full width of the front, an integrated glass door on the far right-hand end. If you want to sit outside, there’s a row of four chairs, two either side of a low table, on the pavement in front of window.

Inside, the seating is just as simple. To the left of the door, you have a three-person window bar, offering similar views to the chairs outside, but without the traffic noise. Alternatively, a bench, generously provisioned with cushions, lines the left-hand wall with three two-person tables in front of it. Finally, a solitary two-person table occupies the middle of the room.

All this is to your left as you enter, leaving a clear path from the door to the counter which runs the full width of Second Shot along the back wall. On your way, you pass a set of retail shelves, stocked with bags of coffee (from old friends, Neighbourhood Coffee, while I was there) and reusable cups. The counter is just as simple, with the cake in a display case to the right, the Nuova Simonelli espresso machine left and the till in the middle. Filter coffee, meanwhile, has its own spot behind the counter against the back wall.

During my visit, the espresso, served from a standard menu, was a Peruvian single-origin from Cast Iron Roasters, while a Brazilian single-origin from Neighbourhood was on batch brew, with more options from Neighbourhood on pour-over. The filter options change as and when Second Shot gets through each bag of coffee, while the espresso changes every three months or so.

I had a shot of the Peruvian single-origin, served in a handleless blue cup. This proved to be a very fine, well-round and well-balanced espresso. I paired this with a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, in the shape of an almond croissant. Sometimes almond croissants can be poor, overly reliant on the almond and sweetness to mask other shortcomings. This, however, was an excellent, a flaky croissant with a hint of almond, enough to give the flavour, but not so much that it dominated the experience. Definitely worth waiting three years (and four days) for!

July 2019: Second Shot now has a second location, in Marylebone. You can see what I made of it when I visited three weeks after it opened.

475 BETHNAL GREEN ROAD • LONDON • E2 9QH +44 (0) 20 7739 1628
Monday 08:00 – 17:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar; Chairs (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 17:00 Food Sandwiches, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 25th May 2019

You can see what fellow coffee bloggers, Jess EatingEast and Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato, made of Second Shot when it opened in May 2016.

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.

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4 thoughts on “Second Shot, Bethnal Green

  1. Pingback: The Beehive | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: Second Shot, Marylebone | Brian's Coffee Spot

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