When we moved to London two years ago, I soon realised that our neighbourhood is somewhat different from the rest of London. It seemed to me like Lambeth is a lifeless place for residents to sleep at night, go to work in the morning, and return in the evening only to cook dinner and go to sleep again. In other words: we have churches, community centres, pubs, libraries and schools. But no places for creatives, such as coffee shops.
New Wave Of Coffee Shops In South East London
Luckily, since then the word has spread around that Hana moved in. Two years later, coffee shops are in abundance. No kidding – we went from two coffee shops to seven. In fact, some died and some new were born. And the quality has increased dramatically. The coffee shops are no longer greasy spoon cafeterias, they are real, trendy coffee shops. Let me show you my favourites.
This coffee shop took over a well-known Kennington Bookstore which closed around a year ago. To my heartbreak, I thought the place would never be open again and that we lost a local bookshop. But that didn’t happen. Today, the place is full of new titles and it also serves a very good coffee. Let me tell you all about it.
I have high standards for coffee. The espresso must have foam. The coffee can’t be too dark-roast. And my favourite coffee shop simply must have almond milk (since I’m allergic to dairy) when I want to have a latte or cappuccino. Vanilla Black has all of that. They also serve very nice teas and two kinds of smoothies.
The place is also a great option for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Muesli, avocado on sourdough bread, two kinds of fresh salads, poached eggs, sausage rolls, big buns filled with prosciutto and other deli. Unfortunately I can’t eat most of the stuff since I’m gluten-free too, but they have gluten-free toasts to serve the avocado on. And it’s amazing.
What’s even more amazing are their cakes. I can’t judge the “normal” cakes, but they have three (yes, three!) gluten-free options. One is an amazingly chocolatey salted caramel brownie. I love it with almond latte or jasmine green tea. Second is chocolate-orange polenta cake, very moist and not overly sweet. And last one is spiced bread with pistachios – great vegan option.
Last but not least, the interior is beautiful. It’s modern, original and well-balanced in colour and space. The floor level has beautiful bookshelves filled with books about design, local cookbooks (my favourite section), colouring books and children’s books. You will find here small gifts (for you and for your loved ones) and postcards too. The basement level provides a great space for study and work, and the most comfortable couch with cozy blankets and fireplace to warm up during those cold winter days.
Oh and I can’t forget to say that the staff is very friendly, smiley and helpful. No wonder the place is almost always packed. I can’t stop coming in!
Address: 308 Kennington Rd, London SE11 4LD
Fowlds Cafe is located at the end of Walworth Road by a big park, and it’s a small, tiny place located on the corner on a period house. In fact, it’s sharing space (almost literally) with an upholstery. No kidding. You can actually see some work being done when you’re inside and you look over the waiter’s shoulder. And that’s just one of the things that makes the space so special.
The coffee shops serves coffee from a local roastery, Square Mile, and does it very well. There are a few cake options (usually one gluten-free) and a selection of quality tea. The cakes are, hard to believe, baked by one of the waitresses from the café. You can’t go more fresh or local.
During evening hours the place turns into a local watering hole and offers local ciders, beers and some drinks and wine. With just two tiny tables and four bar stools inside of the coffee shop and three or four tables situated outside, you can count on a very intimate feel. And that’s what makes the place so special. Needless to say, people come and try to grab a seat as soon as they can, or at least stop by for a takeaway.
Regarding food options, they’re pretty good: from soups to appetisers, sourdough bread and salads, you will definitely find your favourite candidate. From time to time, the place organises a Fowlds Feast, a special dinner party for everyone who registers.
It’s no wonder Fowlds Cafe got so popular. In December the people behind the concept are opening a new coffee shop set on two floors (whaaaat?) not so far from the original place. I haven’t checked it out yet but you will definitely see me there soon.
Cupcakes & Shhht
I would have published this blog post a month earlier, but just before Christmas I found this cute little café, Cupcakes & Shhht located just by Elephant & Castle’s shopping centre. It’s another rare gem in the neighbourhood. Their food is mostly vegan and always gluten-free (seriously, I want all my birthday cakes from this place only). In other words: it’s a dream come true.
The owners are two young women, one of them who shared with me a couple of their secrets. They started a few years ago with tons of passion (and seemingly not so much knowledge about business – but who cares) and with buying furniture on flea markets. However, don’t get too fussy about it; if you like shabby chic style, this place is for you.
I love all the coffee options because unlike other coffee shops they offer a lot of dairy free options, including coconut milk. Hot chocolate is just delicious there. Cakes include brownies, raw cakes, power balls and beautifully decorated (vegan and gluten-free) cupcakes. On top of that, they have vegan burgers and other food options that can be delivered straight to your doors with Deliveroo.
Address: Unit 10, Elephant road, Elephant and Castle SE17 1AY