diamond geezer

 Thursday, April 06, 2017

Back in 2014 I observed the arrival of proper barista-style coffee in London E3, with a Costa appearing on Roman Road and a handful of more independent specialists sprinkled here and there. Your part of London may have had flat whites for ages (even Stratford has had a Starbucks since 2007), but it was a surprise to see this sign of gentrification finally hit Bow. So I decided to track down all of E3's coffee outlets, and then assembled a comprehensive list of offerings on one map. The E3 coffee map. Three years later I thought it was time for an update, so I went out and tracked them all down again.

View E3 coffee map in a larger map

Disclaimer: I don't like coffee. I therefore haven't sampled caffeinated beverages from any of the following, merely wandered past to confirm that they exist. I traipsed all over E3 to collect this information (which was an eight mile hike, because my local postcode covers pretty much everywhere between the Regent's Canal to the west, Victoria Park to the north, the River Lea to the east and the Limehouse Cut to the south). I've then categorised the three dozen coffee vendors into various categories, with the more impressive at the top and the push-button merchants at the bottom. If you're seeking top coffee I'd say the list's top twenty (marked by cups on the map) offer the best chance of a gourmet brew. But then what do I know? If you're local and have any direct experience or any further updates, please let me know.

Craft Coffee
Zealand Road Coffee Shop As independent as it gets [391 Roman Rd, E3 5QS]
The Chesterfield Double-fronted speciality table-grazing [341-343 Roman Rd, E3 5QR] [NEW - arrived Nov 2014]
Mono London Smart-fronted flat white repository [535 Roman Rd, E3 5EL]
Muxima Long-standing classy caffeine nexus [618 Roman Rd, E3 2RW]
Carmelite Cafe Beanbeard's Nude Espresso, at the Nunnery Gallery [181 Bow Rd, E3 2SJ]
Bean About Town Chirpy coffee cart, commuter hours only [outside Bow Rd station, E3 4DH]
The Coffee Room Newer-than-it-looks pastryland [10 Grove Road, E3 5AX]

Chain Coffee
Starbucks OMG they're here! (formerly the independent 'Chez Pepi') [389 Mile End Rd, E3 4QS] [NEW]
Costa E3's first, beneath the Green Bridge [556 Mile End Rd, E3 4PL]
Costa Sole purveyor of chainbrew on the Roman Road [554-556 Roman Road, E3 5ES]

Cafe Coffee
Stour Space Cafe The last surviving Fish Island canalside hub [7 Roach Rd, E3 2PA] [was The Counter Cafe]
Cafe Greenway Tiny hideaway at the top end of the Greenway [41 Dace Rd, E3 2NG]
Magus & the Fool Gallery-style fusion cafe [357 Roman Rd, E3 5QR] [was Roman Road Art Cafe]
Symposium Wine-focused, but with deli and cafe [363 Roman Road, E3 5QR] [NEW]
Mae + Harvey On-trend "All day + evening cafe" [414 Roman Road, E3 5LU] [NEW, was Fika]
Hiland Cafe Boardgame-friendly retro/modern cafe [467 Roman Rd, E3 5LX] [NEW]
La Table des Saveurs Less French than its predecessor [494-496 Roman Rd, E3 5LU] [NEW, was Boulangerie de Moulin]
L Randolfi Classic formica caff, here since 1908 [514 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
Barone Shabby chic cafe between Iceland and Poundland [576 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
Coffee Espresso: Opportunistic squeezed-in buzzy joint [1a Burdett Rd, E3 4TU] [NEW]

Caff Coffee
Semz Cafe: When money's tight, but not otherwise [483 Roman Rd, E3]
Fiesta: Fully Licensed 'Restaurant', a market favourite [546 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
Idea Store Cafe: A sit-down in the library [Roman Rd, Gladstone Place, E3 5ES]
Cafe Creme: Brown-clad cafe, "established 2011" [566 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
The Unique Cafe: I'm unconvinced it lives up to its name [585 Roman Rd, E3 5EL]
Riverside Cafe: Proper (hidden) greasy spoon [Dye House Lane, E3 2TB]
Targa Green Cafe: Isolated deli sandwich bar [137 Tredegar Rd, E3 2EU] [NEW, was Del. Boy]
Mighty Bite Cafe: Small eggs'n'bacon place, open 6.30am-2pm [123 Bow Rd, E3 2AN]
Gardiner's: Sandwichy cafe near St Clement's [630 Mile End Rd, E3 4PH]
Delizia: Middle Eastern, also does coffee [33 Burdett Rd, E3 4TN]
Devons Cafe: With a tinfoil potplant in the window [113 Devons Rd, E3 3QX]

Curious Coffee
The Peanut Vendor: Late 20C furniture, with speciality barista [6 Gunmakers Lane, E3 5GG] [NEW]
Growing Concerns: Canalside garden centre, with weekend-only drinks cart [2 Wick Lane, E3 2NA ]
Pie In The Sky Cafe: Unity Kitchen at the Bromley by Bow Centre [St Leonards Street, E3 3BT] [under new management]
Morgan Arms: Gastropub keen to entice daytime coffee drinkers [43 Morgan Street, E3 5AA]
The Mayor's Parlour: First floor of old Poplar Town Hall [Bow House 153–159 Bow Road E3 2SE]
Miller's Cafe: Occasional eaterie at the House Mill [Three Mill Lane, E3 3DU]
Towpath Cafe: Occasional cafe at the Ragged School Museum [46-50 Copperfield Rd, E3 4RR]
Out of the Box: Tiny cupcake outlet at Bow Wharf [221 Grove Rd, E3 5SN]

Clockwork Coffee
McDonalds: Drive-thru by the Bow Flyover [4 Payne Road, E3 2SP]
Greggs: Squirty coffee-to-go [628 Roman Road, E3 2RW]
The News Kiosk: Outside Bow Road station [50A Bow Road, Bow E3 4DH]
Tesco (Bromley-by-Bow): Costa Express machine [Hancock Rd, E3 3DA]
Shell garage: Costa Express machine [445-453 Wick Lane, E3 2TB]
Texaco garage (Co-op): Costa Express machine [127-131 Bow Road, E3 2AN]
Yummy Pot: Workmen's burger van [Old Ford Trading Estate, E3 2JE]
Local Express: Minimart Nescafe [86-88 St Leonards Street, E3 3LR] [NEW]

Muff: Fish Island cafe, now a block of flats [4c Roach Rd, E3 2PA]
Chicchi: Cheap market cafe, shuttered [516 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
Chez Pepi: Bought out by Starbucks [389 Mile End Rd, E3 4QS]
Cafe Meeshee: By Mile End station, shuttered [562 Mile End Rd, E3 4PH]
Paper and Cup Community-staffed, closed November 2016 [83 St Paul's Way, E3 4AJ]

What's noticeably changed since 2014 is an even greater concentration of espresso-friendly premises to the north of the postcode, and a retreat from the south. Roman Road has several additional outlets, particularly at the western end (away from the market) where it seems almost every alternate unit is serving well-scrubbed food and drink to an influx of moneyed residents. Time Out would very much approve. A smaller coffee cluster can be found to the west of Mile End station, around the Green Bridge, where the postcode's first Starbucks has crashlanded... perhaps there are a lot of students to feed and water. This is not the E3 I recognise from when I moved here at the turn of the century, but it is a reflection of the spread of gentrification trickling east from Shoreditch and beyond.

But the large area to the south of Bow Road remains a coffee desert, indeed the only place serving up proper craft brew closed in November last year. Posh coffee has yet to gain a foothold in Bow Common and Bromley-by-Bow because it's an unnecessary luxury, and there are far more important things to blow your cash on than frothy beany milk. I also note with sadness the gradual disappearance of Fish Island's canalside culture, as the Olympic regeneration zone creeps across the Lea and turns former warehouses packed with creative enterprises into flats. Various emerging pockets of relative affluence will be demanding contemporary high-end barista-crafted drip-blend soon enough, but as the wave of gentrification percolates through, as yet only certain parts of E3 are feeling the rush.

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