I’m concluding my short series on Tooting Bec/South Balham with a chance discovery that I made enroute to Dee Light Bakery. An iconic sign above a coffee shop on Ritherdon Road caught my eye: Foxcroft & Ginger. Readers with long memories may recall the original Foxcroft & Ginger in Soho (now long since gone), one of my early Coffee Spot favourites. Naturally, I hurried to investigate, only to discover that it wasn’t Foxcroft & Ginger after all, Knead a Little Love having sublet the premises almost exactly one year ago in November 2020. So, in a sense, it was a double chance discovery.
Knead a Little Love is a vegan doughnut bakery, run by two sisters, but vegan doughnuts is only the start of it. As well as six different ring doughnuts and 12 filled doughnuts, Knead a Little Love has cookies, tarts and pastries, plus an all day brunch menu, along with a couple of snacks and two lunch options. And that’s before I get started on the coffee, where Extract Coffee Roasters makes a rare London appearance with its Rocket Espresso blend. There’s also a range of tea, plus a selection of fresh smoothies to round things out.
My tour of Tooting Bec continues with Communion Coffee, on the other side of Tooting Bec station from Green Monkey London. Unlike Green Monkey and Dee Light Bakery, Communion Coffee is a relative newcomer, having opened just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It has a simple offering of quality coffee and baked goods in an equally simple space, with the counter at the back, a window-bar at the front and a large, communal table in the middle.
Turning to the coffee, old friends Assembly are on espresso, while there’s a regularly-changing guest on filter (batch brew or V60/Aeropress/Chemex), plus Good & Proper tea. Communion also stocks a wide range of retail bags. Unusually, the default is for non-dairy milks, although there is a dairy option from Brades Farm (20p extra). If you’re drinking in, Communion uses HuskeeCups, while for takeaway, there’s a 20p discount for bringing your own cup. Finally, if you’re hungry, there’s a small toast and sandwich menu, plus a range of cakes and pastries, with bread for sale.
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.
Continuing my exploration of those bits of South West London which historically I’ve sped through/past on the train brings us to Tooting Bec, which I visited last week. And where better to start than around the corner from Tooting Bec tube station, where you’ll find today’s Coffee Spot, Green Monkey London? Green Monkey is something of local institution, having opened in 2015, occupying the last in a row of five single-storey units east of the station on the south side of Tooting Bec Road. There are a couple of tables outside on the pavement, with much more seating inside, although if you’re ordering takeaway, there’s a handy to-go window to the right of the door.
Styling itself “coffee and brunch”, Green Monkey lives up to both these tags, serving Nude Coffee Roasters’ East Blend from a standard espresso-based menu, along with a range of loose-leaf tea (served by the pot), various fresh juices and a selection of smoothies. When it comes to food, there’s an extensive breakfast and brunch menu with various vegetarian and vegan options alongside meat-filled classics such as the bacon, sausage and fried egg brioche bun, all backed up with a selection of cakes and pastries.
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!
Saucer & Cup is one of those places which has been on my radar since it opened in 2014. However, I’ve never quite been in the right place at the right time for a visit (or, possibly, never made the time/place…). Until last week, that is, when I was in Earlsfield, a mere 20-minute walk away. It was too good an opportunity to miss!
Saucer & Cup is on the other side of Wimbledon Park from the famous All England Law Tennis and Croquet Club, located on Arthur Road, just down the hill from Wimbledon Park tube station on the District Line. From the street, it’s a fairly modest space, but inside, it goes quite a way back, plus there’s a spacious basement.
The focus is on the coffee, which Saucer & Cup backs up with a concise and innovative brunch menu, all the food being prepared in the kitchen, which shares downstairs with the basement seating. Saucer & Cup only offers single-origins, with a seasonal house espresso from Workshop, plus a regularly changing guest espresso (currently Tim Wendelboe). There’s also batch brew filter and, depending on the time of day/how busy things are, you can always ask (nicely) about pour-over.
For as long as I’ve lived in Guildford, Earlsfield’s been one of those stations that I’ve sped through on my way to London Waterloo (unless on the slow train to Clapham Junction, when it’s been the signal to get ready since Clapham Junction is the next stop). That is, until Tuesday, when I decided to get off at Earlsfield Station and see what the area has to offer, starting with today’s Coffee Spot, Bean and Hop, a three-minute walk south of the station.
Bean and Hop styles itself craft beer, coffee and brunch, although I’d be inclined to reverse that order (and add wine and cocktails to the list). Occupying a sunny spot on Garratt Lane, it’s a bustling, friendly (and dog-friendly) place with plenty of seating, plus more tables outside. There’s an extensive brunch menu, with the kitchen open until three, while the coffee comes from Nude Espresso, which roasts an exclusive single-origin from Santa Ana in El Salvador (the home of Coffeeland) which is used at Bean and Hop and its two siblings, Café Tamra and Café Fleur. This is available via a standard espresso-based menu, backed up with tea, smoothies and a small range of cocktails.
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.
Another Brother is another chance discovery in Wandsworth, and, like Monday’s Coffee Spot, Lockdown Bakehouse, it opened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Located just across the busy Putney Bridge Road from Wandsworth Park, it’s occupied a sunny corner at the park’s western end since opening in June 2021. There’s a handful of tables outside, split evenly between the busy Putney Bridge Road and around the corner on the quieter Brandlehow Road. Alternatively, you can sit inside, where it’s bright and sunny, with a choice of window-bar, a couple of larger tables and several smaller ones.
Another Brother tags itself as coffee and brunch. It achieves the former with the Daily Blend from Caravan on espresso, backed up with a weekly single-origin guest espresso which is also available as a batch brew filter. The guest is sometimes from Caravan (as was the case during my visit) or from a guest roaster (this week, it’s a Peruvian coffee, Andres Vasquez Burga, from Modern Standard). Brunch is provided from the kitchen at the back, with a menu featuring classic dishes such as eggs on sourdough and avocado toast, along with pancakes and corn fritters, all backed up by a selection of cakes and pastries.
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.