At the start of 2021, when I was wondering if there would be any coffee shops I could write about, an unexpected bonus arrived in my hometown, Guildford in the shape of Lily London, a coffee shop in a telephone box! Since then, Lily London has opened three more coffee shops in telephone boxes in (appropriately) London, Eastbourne and Edinburgh.
The London telephone box is on St Thomas Street, around the back of London Bridge station and almost directly under the UK’s tallest building, The Shard. Passing through the capital last weekend, I thought it was about time that I paid it a visit. For those who don’t know, Lily London serves its own coffee, imported from Brazil by the owner, then roasted by Plot Roasting. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, along with retail bags of the coffee. Unsurprisingly, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Lily London, Shard, as it’s known, is just to the west of London Bridge Station and The Shard, and opposite Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital. On the north side of St Thomas Street, it’s on the pavement at the eastern end of row of townhouses. Once you get there, you can’t really miss it since it’s the only red telephone box on the street. This houses the two-group Fracino espresso machine, a very modern Sanremo grinder, the milk and a (bottled) water supply.
A small serving table stands in front of the telephone box, where you’ll find the card-reader and retail bags of coffee, all sheltering under a very large, square umbrella that matches the iconic red of the telephone box. If you want to take the weight off your feet, then Lily London has two small, square tables tucked away behind the telephone box, each with a red-topped stool which look remarkably like bollards. In fact, I initially thought that they were bollards, until two workmen took them around the front to sit next at the serving table, somewhat blocking access for any other customers in the process!
If you are familiar with Lily London in Guildford, then this one holds no great surprises. The coffee is sourced by the owner, Lily, who started in the coffee business by importing green beans from Brazil. At the moment, Lily uses a naturally-processed single-origin from Brazil, roasted by Plot Roasting. There’s a standard and very concise espresso-based menu, plus mocha, hot chocolate and five types of tea, with Lily London offering whole and skimmed milk, plus oat milk as a non-dairy alternative.
I’ve had multiple flat whites from Lily London in Guildford and they have always been excellent, plus I’ve bought several bags of the coffee to enjoy at home, finding that it goes very well through both my Sage Barista Express and my cafetiere. Being a creature of habit, on this visit I had another flat white in my trusty HuskeeCup, which was just as good, coffee and milk going extremely well together to form a smooth, classic flat white. As I’ve come to expect from Lily London, Guildford, the milk was also perfectly steamed, holding the latte art right to bottom of the cup.
December 2021: Lily London, Shard was a runner-up for the 2021 Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
|7/19 ST THOMAS STREET • LONDON BRIDGE • LONDON|
|Monday||07:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Plot Roasting (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 17:00||Food||N/A|
|Thursday||07:00 – 17:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 17:00||Payment||Card Only|
|Saturday||07:00 – 17:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Sunday||07:00 – 17:00||Power||N/A|
|Chain||National||Visits||13th July 2021|
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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