diamond geezer

 Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Over the past few years, even the past few months, good coffee has been invading London E3. That's proper barista-style coffee - flat whites not granules in water - and to see it in Bow is quite a surprise. There's even now a Costa on Roman Road, recently opened, as well as a handful of more independent specialists sprinkled here and there. Perhaps it's a sign of gentrification, but Bow suddenly has facilities many other parts of London have long taken for granted. Whatever, I thought I'd track down all of E3's coffee outlets and assemble a comprehensive list of offerings on one map. The E3 coffee map.

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 fifteen (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, any better categorisation or any further updates, please let me know.

Craft Coffee
Zealand Road Coffee Shop As independent as it gets [391 Roman Rd, E3 5QS]
Carmelite Cafe Beanbeard's Nude Espresso, by the Nunnery Gallery [181 Bow Rd, E3 2SJ]
Muxima Recently shifted from Fairfield Road [618 Roman Rd, E3 2RW]
The Counter Cafe The original Fish Island hub-of-cool [7 Roach Rd, E3 2PA]
Bean About Town Freshly-appeared coffee cart, commuter hours only [outside Bow Rd station, E3 4DH]

Chain Coffee
Costa E3's first, beneath the Green Bridge [556 Mile End Rd, E3 4PL]
Costa Bringing chainbrew to Roman Road for the first time [554-556 Roman Road, E3 5ES]

Cafe Coffee
Muff Formerly the Carlton, now a cafe attached to a motorbike shop [4c Roach Rd, E3 2PA]
Cafe Greenway Occasional small hideaway at the top end of the Greenway [41 Dace Rd, E3 2NG]
Roman Road Art Cafe With steaming cup painted on the window [357 Roman Rd, E3 5QR]
Boulangerie de Moulin French cakes and coffee, looks very artisan [494-496 Roman Rd, E3 5LU]
Chicchi Established Italian cafe, with coffees under £2 [516 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
Barone Trim little cafe between Iceland and Poundland [576 Roman Rd, E3 5ES]
The Coffee Rooms(?) So utterly new it doesn't have any signs yet [10 Grove Road, E3 5AX]
Paper and Cup Books, treats and coffee, church-side [83 St Paul's Way, E3 4AJ]

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]
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]
Wimpy: Alas no, this 50s stalwart has just closed down [609 Roman Rd, E3 2RN]
Del. Boy: Sandwiches and Bagels, honest [137 Tredegar Rd, E3 2EU]
The Orange Room: Lebanese restaurant, also does coffee [63 Burdett Rd E3 4TN]
Chez Pepi: Opposite Costa, by the Green Bridge [389 Mile End Rd, E3 4QS]
Cafe Meeshee: Bright-orange-fronted, by Mile End station [562 Mile End Rd, E3 4PH]
Gardiner's: Sandwichy cafe near St Clement's [630 Mile End Rd, E3 4PH]
Mighty Bite Cafe: Small greasy spoon, open 6.30am-2pm [123 Bow Rd, E3 2AN]
McDonalds: Drive-thru by the Bow Flyover [4 Payne Road, E3 2SP]
Devons Cafe: With a potplant in tinfoil in the window [113 Devons Rd, E3 3QX]

Curious Coffee
Pie In The Sky Cafe: Associated with the Bromley by Bow Centre [St Leonards Street, E3 3BT]
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 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
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]
Texaco garage: A quid from a machine [51-53 Grove Road, E3 4PE]

Even if I didn't sample any of the coffee, one thing I did spot was a greater density of trendyfolk and coffee culture to the north of my postcode, and far less to the south. If Time Out were reviewing coffee in E3 they might describe this as a 'gradient of cool', whereas I'd prefer to point the finger at lingering poverty. Posh coffee hasn't yet gained 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. Its time will come, indeed there are already emerging pockets of relative affluence and they'll be demanding contemporary high-end barista-crafted drip-blend soon enough. But for now much of E3 is a coffee desert, and the espresso wave has yet to percolate through.

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