The Beehive

The sign from outside The Beehive in Bethnal Green, with the slogan, "Coffee & Industry".The Beehive, like yesterday’s Saturday Short, Second Shot, is a social enterprise, albeit of a slightly different character. Part of the Bethnal Green Mission Church, it opened in July 2018, occupying part of the ground floor of the same building as the church, at the northern end of Paradise Gardens on the busy Cambridge Heath Road. There’s some outdoor seating in the garden, while inside you have the choice of the busy upstairs or the clean lines of the basement, where you’ll also find The Beehive’s book exchange.

The coffee offering is fairly simple, with The Baron from Climpson and Sons, plus Climpson’s seasonal decaf on espresso, all served from a fairly standard menu. This is joined by a single-origin on batch brew (currently a Rwandan), chosen from Climpson’s seasonal range and changed every few months when Climpson and Sons release its new coffees. There’s also a small selection of tea, plus concise breakfast (until 11:30), lunch (11:30 to 16:00) and toast (until 16:00) menus, each with three or four choices. This is backed up by a wide selection of cake, much of it homemade. For example, one of the cakes I had was made by the pastor’s wife!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Paradise Gardens, looking north at the corner of Bethnal Green & Cambridge Heath Roads.
  • This building, seen here from Cambridge Heath Road, stands at the gardens' northern end.
  • The gardens are, by the way, sandwiched between the road (behind us) and the railway.
  • And here's the view looking south along the gardens from directly in front of The Beehive.
  • And turning around, there it is, occupying the building's front right-hand corner.
  • There's some outside seating here, including these two picnic tables...
  • ... while on the other side of the path, there are three deck chairs and an A-board.
  • Another view of the deckchairs.
  • Cute A-board.
  • There is another entrance to The Beehive, by the way, direct from Cambridge Heath Road.
  • Nice sign.
  • Nice A-board too.
  • Going through the double doors, there's a door immediately to the left...
  • ... which leads directly into the back of The Beehive...
  • ... and the far end of the counter.
  • Alternatively, entering via Paradise Gardens, you get this view of The Beehive.
  • The counter occupies the left-hand side...
  • ... while the seating is on the right.
  • A bench runs along the right-hand side...
  • ... to the front of The Beehive...
  • ... where it turns the corner to run along the windows to the door.
  • The broad window sills double as seats by the way.
  • Some of the tables in more detail.
  • A view of the bench along the right-hand side. Note the railings behind the bench.
  • These prevent you from leaning backwards and falling down the stairs!
  • But what's down there? The handy sign at the top explains all.
  • The basement, as seen from the corner of the stairs.
  • There's quite a lot of seating down here, including these comfy chairs...
  • ... and this six-person table in the middle...
  • ... plus a smaller, three-person table at the bottom of the stairs.
  • An alternative view of the seating from the opposite wall...
  • ... and here from the far corner.
  • Things start with the table at the bottom of the stairs...
  • ... while the six person table can be split into two smaller tables if required.
  • Alternatively, there are the comfortable chairs against the back wall...
  • ... or up against the stairs.
  • There's quite a bit of artwork downstairs, including these hanging from the stairs...
  • ... and this display on the back wall.
  • Pride of place goes to the bookshelves opposite the stairs.
  • This is, in fact, the Beehive Community Bookshelf.
  • And look what I found (well, technically, look what I donated).
  • Let's go back upstairs, shall we?
  • There's more artwork at the top of the stairs...
  • ... some of which is for sale, such as these pots.
  • To business. You order at the front of the counter.
  • The drinks menu is on the wall behind the counter...
  • ... while the food menu is on the tables.
  • There's also a good selection of cake, a lot of it homemade.
  • More cake.
  • The espresso machine is at the far end of the counter, against the back wall.
  • In case you wondered who the coffee is from...
  • I started with a decaf flat white on my first visit...
  • ... which had some well-steamed milk, holding the latte art all the way to the bottom.
  • I paired this with a slice of the pear, walnut and ginger tray bake.
  • On my return the following day, I treated myself to more coffee and cake.
  • This time it was an espresso (the Baron blend from Climpson and Sons)...
  • ... and a slice of the plum and Earl Gray loaf.
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The Beehive is at the northern end of the long, thin Paradise Gardens in Bethnal Green, just up the road from the tube station and around the corner from Second Shot. There is outdoor seating at the top end of the park on a broad, tarmacked area in front of the coffee shop, with three deck chairs next to a flowerbed to the left and two picnic tables to the right.

The Beehive is directly ahead of you, at the front, right-hand corner of the building, with a door on the left. This leads into a simple, rectangular space, with tall, thin windows, two close-spaced ones along the front to the right of the door and two more down the right-hand side. This runs along Cambridge Heath Road, the space maybe twice as long as it is wide. At the far end, a door in the middle of the back wall leads into a central corridor running across the middle of the building. To the right, at the end of the corridor, double doors lead out onto Cambridge Heath Road, providing an alternate entrance to The Beehive.

the layout is simple. An open counter runs along the left-hand wall, the two-group La Marzocco Linea espresso machine against the back wall at the far end. Meanwhile the cakes and till are near the front. The seating is in an L-shape, running from immediately to the right of the door, along the front two windows, then along a bench to the right. There’s a table in each window (each broad windowsill doubling as a seat), with four two-person tables running along the bench. This is against a metal bannister which lines the stairs to the basement. These start in the back corner (to the right of the door at the back) and descend below the windows before taking a right-angled turn six steps from the bottom, depositing you in a white-walled, wood-floored, rectangular basement filled with additional seating, along with some bookshelves along the left-hand wall.

There’s a three-person table at the bottom of the stairs against the front wall, with a six-person table in the middle of the room. If you fancy something more relaxing, a cluster of three low, comfy chairs cluster around a coffee table next to the stairs, while at the back, there’s another low coffee table, this time with a pair of the same low-slung chairs.

I visited twice, first at the end of a long day on Saturday, when I had a very fine decaf flat white, the coffee and milk going very well together, with the milk holding the latte art right to the bottom of the cup. I paired this with a pear, walnut and ginger tray bake which was lovely: a moist cake with large chunks of pear, plenty of walnuts and a subtle ginger flavour.

I returned the following day for more coffee and cake. This time I had The Baron, Climpson and Sons‘ single-origin Brazilian espresso, which was excellent, a well-balanced and well-rounded shot. I paired it with a slice of the plum and Earl Grey loaf. Once again, my cake was wonderfully moist, topped with a subtle layer of plum jam.

Thanks, by the way, to the excellent staff who looked after me so well, including India (both days), Richard (Saturday) and Bron (Sunday).

305 CAMBRIDGE HEATH ROAD • BETHNAL GREEN • LONDON • E2 9LH
www.thebeehivelondon.co.uk
Monday 07:30 – 17:30 Roaster Climpson & Son (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:30 Seating Tables; Tables & Deckchairs (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:30 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 17:30 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 13:00 – 17:30 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 25th, 26th May 2019

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.


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