Visiting Canary Wharf for work at the end of May, I already knew about the likes of Taylor Street Baristas and Notes. I also knew that the speciality coffee scene had evolved considerably since my last visit in 2015. However, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, 640 East, caught me by surprise, even though it’s been going since 2017. Located in Montgomery Square, right by the eastern entrance to Canary Wharf tube station, 640East was also directly outside my office, so I became a regular visitor, calling in most days for my morning (and sometimes afternoon) coffee.
Consisting of two reused containers facing each other across a large courtyard, the majority of 640East’s seating is outdoors, although one container has a small, indoor seating area. Serving a blend from Caravan on espresso, 640East does a roaring trade from the local offices, while in the evening wine, cocktails and beer take over (although all are available day and night). This is all backed up by a range of cakes and pastries, with a few savouries in the morning.
Note that 640East is takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own. It’s also cashless, so you’ll need a credit/debit card.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Canary Wharf is the original 640East which has been joined by branches in Bethnal Green (which opened at the start of last month) and, ironically, an outpost in the Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, way out west, although nowhere near as way out west as Bristol, where 640East is opening this summer (along with a fifth branch in Brighton).
640East consists of a pair of containers on a slightly raised area of wooden decking. They are aligned east to west, facing each other across a small courtyard, which is sheltered from the elements by a glass roof spanning the gap between the two containers. Meanwhile, the decking extends to the west, where there’s a large, open outdoor seating area with a pair of huge, L-shaped sofa units and multiple round, two-person tables.
Returning to the courtyard, there’s a small amount of seating here during the day, with three sofas and more two-person tables. In the evenings, this spills out to the square to the east, leaving the courtyard free as a standing area for drinkers at the bar. Finally, the southern of the two containers has more seating inside.
Taken as a whole, the two containers and the courtyard form a square, with the outdoor seating area acting as an extension to the west. During the day, the two containers both act as takeaway coffee bars, although you can also order beer and wine, as well as being welcome to linger with your coffee. The menu at each is identical, so it’s up to you which one go to, although for some reason I always ended up at the northern one. This is split into two, with the right-hand side operating as a dedicated bar, only opening in the evenings, while the left-hand side is an open coffee-counter facing into the courtyard, where pride of place is taken by a statue of an armless centaur.
The southern container is a different beast altogether, set up as a single unit with windows on three of the four sides. The left-hand end (opposite the bar) is seating, while the right-hand end has the counter and espresso machine, mirroring that in the northern container. It’s very bright in here, and, when it’s quiet, quite lovely. There’s a long bench against the back wall of the container with six square, two-person tables in front of it, plus, as an added bonus, a two-person bar occupies the window at the far left-hand end of the container. if you chose to go here for your coffee, you need to enter through the door on the left, then queue up alongside the tables, before ordering (and collecting) your coffee from the counter at the far end, exiting through a second door. All very slick.
By day, East640 is a busy takeaway coffee shop/counter. Although it’s disposable cups only, 640East encourages reusable cups, offering a 20p discount if you bring your own, also selling KeepCups. In the evenings, it morphs effortlessly into a very busy bar, while during the daytime at the weekends, it’s a chilled coffee shop.
I called in on Monday morning, ordering a flat white in my HuskeeCup, the Daily Blend from Caravan going well with the milk. I was sufficiently impressed that I returned most days, either grabbing a coffee on my way into the office, or, more usually, popping down during the morning break. I also had an excellent caprese bagel for my breakfast one day, plus I returned on a (very quiet) Saturday morning for an espresso in my Kaffeeform cup. This too was very good, although with an unexpected acidic bite.
|MONTGOMERY SQUARE • UPPER BANK STREET • CANARY WHARF • LONDON • E14 5JJ|
|https://640east.co.uk||+44 (0) 7802 835994|
|Monday||07:00 – 23:00||Roaster||Caravan (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 23:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Window Bar; Tables (inside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 23:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 23:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 23:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa: No Cash|
|Saturday||10:00 – 23:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||10:00 – 23:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||20th – 25th May 2019|
Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.
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