Sarah’s Leytonstone

An espresso extracting into a glass from a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine at Sarah's Leytonstone.Sarah’s Leytonstone is brought to you by the eponymous Sarah, who runs B-Tempted, the gluten-free bakers whose cakes you’ll find in various places as diverse as coffee shop chain, Notes, health food supermarket, Whole Foods Market, and supermarket, Morrisons (you can also buy cakes direct from Sarah via B-Tempted’s webshop). Sarah’s Leytonstone is Sarah’s latest venture, serving coffee, cakes and good cheer from the front of the railway arch that houses the B-Tempted bakery.

The set-up (for now) is a relatively simple. There’s a pair of tables on the quiet side street in front of the arch, while inside is a neat counter with the espresso machine, till, cakes and, of course, Sarah herself. For the moment, the coffee is from Perky Blenders, with a standard espresso-based menu, plus batch brew. However, things are evolving all the time, with plans for some indoor seating once COVID-19 restrictions allow, plus an expanded offering.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On a quiet road in Leytonstone, a line of arches  stands next to a railway bridge. But wait!
  • What's that A-board by the gate? Cakes, you say? And muffins? Quick! Where's Arch 305?
  • It turns out that Arch 305 is the first in the row, home to B-Tempted Cakes since 2016...
  • ... and, since the start of June, it's also home to Sarah's Leytonstone, the latest project...
  • ... by Sarah, B-Tempted's dynamic owner (this head-on view is one of Sarah's photos).
  • For now, the only seating is a pair of tables, but the plan is to add more inside.
  • Until then, you just go inside to order, where the counter is set back from the doors.
  • Off to the left are some of B-Tempted's cakes, along with other goodies...
  • ... while there are more cakes (and goodies) off to the right. We're surrounded by cake!
  • Seriously, though. What's better than going into a coffee shop & finding a tower of cake?
  • Finding two towers of cake, obviously!
  • This is the full range of B-Tempted's gluten free cakes.
  • However, there's more than just cake. Sarah's is a fully-fledged cafe. Here's the menu...
  • ... and here are some behind the scenes photos. First, every shot is weighed...
  • ... then tamped (behind the scenes access is a perk of being friends with the owner!).
  • The shots are also timed. For now, Sarah is using a one-group Rancilio Silvia...
  • ... although there are plans for an upgrade. The extraction is looking good!
  • Next, steam the milk. Sarah has a separate steamer...
  • ... which heats the milk to a precise, preset temperature.
  • Next, the espresso is transferred to my HuskeeCup...
  • ... and the milk is added to produce a delicious flat white. And, of course, you can't visit...
  • ... Sarah's without having some cake! This is a trial bake of a multi-layered banana cake.
  • I'll leave you with a very rare thing indeed: a photo of me (by Sarah) enjoying my coffee.
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Before we start, in the interests of openness, I should declare that Sarah is a long-time friend, who I met at my first London Coffee Festival, not long after I set up the Coffee Spot. I’ve always loved B-Tempted’s amazing gluten free cakes and, over the years, I’ve watched the company grow, largely through Sarah’s drive and enthusiasm.

The biggest step came in 2016, when Sarah moved into her own bakery in the railway arch in Leytonstone. I visited the bakery not long after B-Tempted moved in and I remember Sarah (who has always wanted her own coffee shop) telling me her (long term) plans to add a coffee shop to arch. And, at the start of June, her plans became reality with the opening of Sarah’s Leytonstone.

The coffee shop (and bakery) are on the western edge of Wanstead Park, south of the centre of Leytonstone, where Harrow Road passes under the London Overground line between Leytonstone High Road and Wanstead Park stations. If you’re heading east, there’s a narrow cul-de-sac on your right just before the bridge, which runs down the side of the line, where you’ll find a series of railway arches, with Sarah’s in the first arch you come to. Alternatively, if you’re coming the other way, it’s first on the left immediately after you go under the bridge.

There’s not a lot to Sarah’s for now. There’s a central pair of glass doors in the wall across front of the arch, the new bricks in contrast to the older brickwork of the arch. A pair of foldaway tables, each with a couple of chairs, stands in front of the doors, but that’s it for seating at the moment. Inside, the arch goes quite a way back, but your access is limited to the first few metres, the bakery hidden away behind a wall, in front of which stands the counter. This is a fairly simple affair, with a long table in front of you, holding espresso machine, till, etc, with two shorter units at 90° on either side holding displays of B-Tempted cakes and other goodies.

The coffee is from the nearby Perky Blenders, with the Forest Blend on espresso and the Sow Blend on batch brew, using a Bonavita brewer. There is a decaf option too, plus CBD coffee from Pot Head Coffee, while if you’re dairy-free, there’s a range of plant-based milks. For now, Sarah’s uses a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine with a separate steamer for the milk, although as the business grows, there are plans to upgrade this to a more commercial machine.

I popped by a couple of weeks ago for coffee, cake, and a long-overdue catch-up with Sarah. I had a lovely flat white in my HuskeeCup (it’s only takeaway cups for now, so don’t forget to bring your own), the Forest Blend going really well with the milk. And, of course, there were the lovely B-Tempted cakes, where I enjoyed a slice of a prototype banana cake, which was delicious.

ARCH 305 • 185 HARROW ROAD • LONDON • E11 3PX
www.instagram.com/sarahs_leytonstone +44 (0) 208 1332 079
Monday 08:00 – 16:00 Roaster Peaky Blenders (espresso + batch brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables (outside)
Wednesday CLOSED Food Cake, Snacks
Thursday CLOSED Service Counter
Friday CLOSED Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 16:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 18th June 2021

Sarah’s expansion plans may come sooner rather than later. Sarah’s opened at the start of June, initially just on Saturdays, then extended to Sundays and, from today, is now open four days a week, Saturday to Tuesday (Sarah said people who’d come at the weekend started turning up during the week asking for coffee, so how could she say no?). Watch this space!


If you 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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