Dee Light Bakery

Looking down the length of the cafe area of Dee Light Bakery towards the bakery at the back.Last week I visited Tooting Bec to explore its speciality coffee scene, so it’s slightly annoying that today’s Coffee Spot, the delightful Dee Light Bakery, is actually in Balham, even though it’s closer to Tooting Bec station than it is to Balham station. Located in a parade of shops with flats above, it’s on the northern side of Ritherdon Road, just off the A24 which links Balham station (north) with Tooting Bec station (south).

Geography woes aside, Dee Light Bakery is very much a part of the neighbourhood and will be celebrating its 10th birthday in November. First and foremost, it’s a bakery, with everything (except the bread) baked by hand on site. There’s a wide range of goodies on offer, from breakfast through to lunch and afternoon tea, plus lots of cakes and pastries on the side. This is all backed up by an espresso-based menu using the Allpress espresso blend, along with a wide range of teas from Canton Tea Co in Bristol. You can sit inside at a short row of tables opposite the counter, or outside, where you’ll find a spacious, sunny terrace in front of the bakery, which is well set back from the road.

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The Eclectic Collection

A classic flat white with some lovely latte art, served in a classic black cup at The Eclectic Collection.Earlsfield is blessed when it comes to speciality coffee shops. Last week I wrote about Bean & Hop and, while some places would be satisfied with that, it’s not enough for Earlsfield which has today’s Coffee Spot, The Eclectic Collection, literally across the road. Opening in March 2018 with the aim of providing something different from the typical speciality coffee shop, The Eclectic Collection was initially just a café. However, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 saw the front part of The Eclectic Collection morph into a high quality delicatessen, something which has proved so popular that it’s here to stay.

These days, The Eclectic Collection is a delicatessen, a coffee shop serving an all-day brunch menu and, for two nights a week (Thursday, Friday), a restaurant with a blind menu. Serving coffee from Berlin’s The Barn certainly helps it stand out from the crowd, but perhaps the most notable thing about The Eclectic Collection are the multiple seating areas at the back, decorated in perhaps the most eclectic fashion that I’ve ever seen in a coffee shop, with colourful wallpaper, various statues, chairs which stubbornly refuse to match each other and a whole lot more besides!

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MONIES

A V60 of the Worka Chelchelie, a natural yeast process coffee from Ethiopia, roasted by Yallah Coffee and served in a glass cup at MONIES in Putney.Last weekend saw me in South West London, where I visited three speciality coffee shops, all of which opened during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Two of these, Lockdown Bakehouse (2020) and Another Brother (June this year) are in Wandsworth, but today’s Coffee Spot, MONIES, is a hop, skip and jump away in Putney.

MONIES, which opened in May this year, is a Cornish-inspired spot, located on Upper Richmond Road between Putney train station and East Putney tube station. It’s a sizeable place, with a generous outdoor terrace at the front, allowing the shop to be set back from the busy road. Inside, the front is largely the preserve of the counter, but there’s plenty of seating at the back.

There’s a seasonal single-origin espresso from Cornwall’s Yallah Coffee, with another single-origin from a guest roaster on pour-over via the V60. There’s Cornish tea (Tregothnan), wine, cocktails, beer and cider, both to drink in and takeaway, plus retail bags of Yallah Coffee, joined by local roaster, Curious Roo. If you’re hungry, there’s Cornish ice cream (from the Monies family farm, no less), plus pre-made sandwiches, cakes and pastries from The Bread Factory, and brownies from The Post Box Bakery.

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Lockdown Bakehouse

The Lockdown Bakehouse logo, carved into the top of one of the tables.Lockdown Bakehouse, just around the corner from Wandsworth Town Station and Over Under, was a chance discovery that I made when visiting in August, prompting me to call in on my return to the area last weekend. A product of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockdown Bakehouse is just that, a bakery, which opened not long after the start of the pandemic. Since then, Lockdown Bakehouse has expanded as it’s evolved to meet the growing challenges of the pandemic, adding a small café, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot.

As well as selling the various loaves, cakes and pastries produced fresh each day from the bakery in the building behind the café, Lockdown Bakehouse offers a range of pre-made sandwiches and savouries, including pies, quiches and sausage rolls. Best of all, from a Coffee Spot perspective, is the top-notch coffee from Bristol-based Clifton Coffee Roasters, where a simple espresso-based menu is backed up by retail bags from various London roasters. While you can’t sit inside the café itself, there’s a large, partially-covered, outside seating area, plus a couple of benches right outside the door. Just be aware that Lockdown Bakehouse only serves in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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Marmalade

Detail from the A-board outside Marmalade in Holywell, a drawing of a hare in front of the mooon, with the caption "enter the Dark Woods..."Today’s Coffee Spot has been a long time coming, three years in fact, which is how long it’s been since Marmalade opened Holywell, the town where I was born and grew up. I’ve been a customer since it first opened in 2018, but travel and then the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way, and despite many visits on my returns to Holywell, it never seemed the right time to write it up. Until now, that is.

Marmalade is on Holywell High Street, literally at the entrance to the mews leading to the Coffee Bean, home of Sarah’s Caring Coffee. There’s not much to Marmalade, with almost as much seating outside on the broad pavement (three tables) as there is inside (a pair of tables and two window-bars). The coffee is from Dark Woods Coffee, with a standard espresso-based menu, while there are neat breakfast and lunch menus, plus plenty of cake.

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Garden Social Coffee House

The front of Garden Social Coffee House on the corner of Catherine and Charlotte Streets, the open door showing no favouritism to either!Today’s Coffee Spot, Garden Social Coffee House, continues the exploration of Chester’s speciality coffee scene and how it’s expanding beyond the historic (and compact) city centre, which started with Monday’s Coffee Spot, Ginger Monkey Number 31. This time we’re northwest of the centre, heading in the direction of Blacon/Sealand, where I stumbled upon Garden Social, tucked away in the dense network of residential streets, lined with tightly-packed terrace houses, between the River Dee and the canal. As the name suggests, Garden Social has an outside seating area at the back, along with some well-spaced seating in the bright and airy interior.

Occupying what was an old-fashioned corner shop, there’s nothing old-fashioned about Garden Social, sporting a brand-new Eagle One espresso machine and its twin Mythos One grinders, serving up a house-blend (Jailbreak) and a regularly-changing single-origin. There’s also a filter option, available through AeroPress, Kalita Wave or Chemex (for two), grinding provided by the ubiquitous EK43, all the coffee coming from Has Bean. This is backed up by a selection of tea, hot chocolate and various iced drinks. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes, plus a concise toast-based breakfast menu, along with a handful of toasties and sandwiches.

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Surbeanton

A gorgeous flat white in an equally gorgeous, bowl-shaped earthenware cup, served at Surbeanton in Surbiton.Once upon a time, when it came to speciality coffee in Surbiton, The Press Room was pretty much the only game in town. However, that’s changed over the years with the addition of Wags N Tales in 2016 and, in 2019, with today’s Coffee Spot, Surbeanton. Although The Press Room still wins the “closest to the station” prize, Surbeanton is only a five-minute walk away: turn left out of the front of the station and walk down to the end of Victoria Road, where you’ll find Surbeanton occupying a narrow, sunny shopfront on the north side of the street.

A pair of tables sit outside on the pavement, with plenty more seating in the long, thin, high-ceilinged interior. During the current COVID-19 restrictions, Surbeanton is table service only, with coffee from Allpress on espresso, backed up by an innovative all-day brunch menu and plenty of cake. There was a selection of four or five single-origins from a regularly-rotating guest roaster on pour-over through the SP9, but this is on hold at the moment. However, you can still buy retail bags from the current guest, Kiss the Hippo, and, with luck, pour-overs will be reintroduced by the end of the month.

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Electric Coffee Co., Goldhawk Road (COVID-19)

A flat white in my HuskeeCup at Electric Coffee Co. on Goldhawk RoadBack in the day, before I’d started the Coffee Spot, Ealing’s Electric Coffee Co. was one of a handful of speciality coffee shops in London. Fast forward 10+ years, and it’s fair to say that it’s now one of a handful of speciality coffee shops in Ealing, such has been the growth of the London scene. And that’s not the only thing that’s been growing. Since opening in 2008, Electric Coffee Co. has expanded its original coffee shop, started its own roasting operation, opened a second location (in St John’s Wood) and now there’s a third, on Goldhawk Road.

When I visited last week, seating was limited to the four outside tables, but as of this morning, the interior seating should be open, including the multi-roomed basement and the sunny room at the back. There are also plans for a small, outdoor terrace accessed through the basement. The coffee offering is fairly simple, with a concise espresso-based menu featuring the Rocket 88 blend. This is backed up by a range of toasted sandwiches and other savouries, plus cakes. Retail bags of coffee are for sale, where they’re joined, unusually, by a small range of Italian groceries.

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Koja by Surrey Hills Coffee (COVID-19 Update)

My flat white, made with the Surrey Hills Coffee Holmbury Hill blend and served in my HuskeeCup at Koja.Koja, a Swedish word meaning “a cosy little den”, came into being in August this year. On the one hand, it can be seen as the rebirth of Surrey Hills Coffee on Jeffries Passage, but it’s also very much its own place, resisting the temptation to become a clone of what had gone before.

When I visited, on Koja’s second day of trading, it was just offering takeaway service. As summer turned to autumn, Koja introduced limited seating downstairs, although I never seemed to be in the position to visit, either passing by at closing time (at the relatively early hour of two o’clock in the afternoon) or else it was a Saturday and very busy. With the tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in England at the start of November, Koja returned to takeaway only, and I thought it was high time I popped back to see how things were going.

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The Collective

The latte art in my flat white, made with Extract's Rocket Espresso, at The Collective in Caversham.It takes a special business to open in the middle of a global pandemic, which is exactly what The Collective, in Caversham, did. In fairness, the plan had been to open a lot earlier, but in a story I hear all too often, there were problems with the fit out and then, just as The Collective was due to open in March, along came the COVID-19 shutdown.

Many would have given up at that point, but not Caversham residents, Sam and Susie, the driving force behind The Collective. Instead they pushed on, The Collective opening in June, initially for takeaway only, before fully opening for table service in mid-September. There’s a brunch menu, which is joined at 11 o’clock by the lunch and toastie menus, all the food cooked in the open kitchen behind the counter. This is backed up by a concise espresso-based menu featuring Extract Coffee Roasters’ Rocket espresso.

However, The Collective’s a lot more than just a café. It’s also a lifestyle store, which reminded me of the likes of Liverpool’s Thoughtfully Café, plus a grocer, selling milk, bread, eggs and more, which brought the likes of Bristol’s No 12 Easton and Elemental Collective to mind.

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