Potter & Reid

A cup of filter coffee on the window-bar of Potter & Reid, with the sky reflected in the surface of the coffee.Now that London is no longer on my doorstep, I don’t visit as often as I once did, so when I was passing through two weeks ago, I took the opportunity to head to Spitalfields in East London to catch up with a familiar name in a new setting. Potter & Reid occupies two rooms on the west side of Toynbee Street. You’ll find the counter and a limited amount of seating on the right-hand side, while the bulk of the seating is to the left, along with a bench and tables on the pavement outside.

Although the coffee shop is new, having opened at the start of last year, the names Potter & Reid are familiar to the London coffee scene, the pair having met in the Allpress café around the corner on Redchurch Street in 2010. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find the ubiquitous Allpress blend at the heart of the espresso menu, backed up by a guest roaster on batch-brew filter. There’s a strong retail offering, featuring a pair of guest roasters, and, unusually, there’s also wine/beer on the menu. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are separate breakfast/lunch menus from chef Eleni Thoma, along with a range of cakes and pastries.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A welcoming (and relatively new) sight on Toynbee Street in Spitalfields: Potter & Reid.
  • The view from head on, where the bane of my life, the parked car, is spoiling the view.
  • Mind you, it must be nice to have your name over the door.
  • And your logo. Click on the photo for the story behind the two empty chairs.
  • The A-board sums it up nicely.
  • If you want to sit outside, there are two options. To the right, there is a long bench...
  • ... while to the left there are three tables...
  • ... all in a row in front of the window.
  • Each half of Potter & Reid has its own door. You can go in either, but since this one...
  • ... leads into the seating area and you have to order at the counter, it makes sense to...
  • ... use the door on the right. There is some seating here, in the shape of this window-bar...
  • ... which has an extension down the right-hand wall.
  • However, the right-hand side of Potter & Reid is largely the domain of the counter.
  • Another look at the four-person window-bar, as seen from in front of the counter.
  • From here, you can easily pass through this wide opening in the wall to the other half...
  • ... of Potter & Reid, where there is a pair of tables in the window at the front...
  • ... along with three tables against the far wall and a four-person table in the middle.
  • However, there's more. Look to your right, around the corner, and you'll see that there's...
  • ... additional seating at the back. There are two tables along the left-hand wall...
  • ... and another two with this L-shaped bench on the right.
  • Returning to the front, here's the view back towards the right-hand part of Potter & Reid.
  • I was taken by this cartoon on the wall...
  • ... while this photograph harks back to Potter & Reid's formative years on Redchurch St.
  • There's a set of retail shelves to the right of the counter with all sorts of goodies...
  • ... including retail bags from guest roasters Three Marks Coffee and Hard Lines.
  • You order at the counter at the back...
  • ... where you'll find the cakes and pastries on display to the right...
  • ... and still and sparkling water on tap to the left. While you're over here, take a look...
  • ... at the menu. This was the lunch menu when I visited...
  • ... but if you are there in the morning, you'll see the breakfast menu instead.
  • I, however, had come for coffee, a cup of the guest filter, the Shyira from Rwanda...
  • ... roasted by Three Marks Coffee of Barcelona.
  • The information card was a nice touch. Before I left, there was one more thing to do.
  • I dropped off this bag of the Rafael Vinhal from Manta Ray Coffee Roasters in Melbourne.
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Potter & Reid is at the northern end of an old, brick-built terrace, about halfway along Toynbee Street and a stone’s throw from Spitalfields Market. Spread across Nos. 20 and 22, there is a door at the left-hand side of each of the two halves of Potter & Reid. The left-hand side has two tall windows side-by-side and three round tables outside on the pavement, seating eight in all. The right-hand side, meanwhile, has a single, large picture window to the right of the door, with a long bench underneath.

You’re welcome to use either door, although since the counter is on the right, it makes more sense to go in that way. This takes you into a bright, open, uncluttered space. There’s limited seating in here, with a four-person bar along the window at the front and another two-person bar down the right-hand wall, where you’ll find the retail shelves. The counter, which runs across the full width of this half of Potter & Reid, is about half way back, with the kitchen in a separate room behind that, visible through an opening in the back wall.

The bulk of the seating is on the left-hand side, accessible from the counter through a large opening in the party wall. A large, open space at the front has three square, two-person tables along a sofa bench down the left-hand wall and two round, two-person tables along a bench in the windows at the front. A four-person table sits in the middle of the room and then, at the back, where the counter and kitchen are on the other side, come more tables, with two square tables on the left and another two on the right, additional light provided by a small window in the back wall.

There is a great beauty in the simplicity of Potter & Reid’s layout, including the white-painted walls and ceiling, and the wooden floorboards and furniture. All this adds up to a warm, welcoming space which is matched by the warm welcome you’ll receive from the staff, and I’m not just saying this because of the reception I had. My original plan had been to sneak into Potter & Reid unannounced but Dani (Reid),who I’ve known since her Allpress days, was having her lunch at the window-bar and immediately spotted me. So much for that plan…

Talking of lunch, Potter & Reid has separate breakfast (08:00 – 11:30) and lunch (12:00 – 15:00) menus, which are chalked up on a board next to the espresso machine at the end of the counter. Featuring seasonal ingredients, this is not your average coffee shop fare, featuring gems such as courgette fritters and briam (a Greek summer stew) during my visit. You can also have a glass of wine or beer with your food.

However, Dani and I caught up over coffee, which was the guest filter, a lovely, fruity, sweet Shyira from Rwanda, roasted by Three Marks Coffee of Barcelona. Although Dani wouldn’t let me pay for my coffee, I was able to leave her and the staff a bag of the Rafael Vinhal, an anaerobic washed Topazio varietal from Brazil, which I’d bought at Manta Ray Coffee Roasters in Melbourne, thus completing another turn of the coffee-go-round.

Monday 07:30 – 16:00 Roaster Allpress (espresso) + Guest (batch brew)
Tuesday 07:30 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Window-bar; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 16:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 15th June 2023

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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