South East London Coffee Shops
Coffee snob? What, me? Don't be ridiculous.
Okay, maybe that’s not quite true…
I admit it, I'm 100% a coffee snob. I avidly avoid high street chains and I am ALWAYS on the hunt for a new independent coffee shop (usually somewhere that I can set up to work for an hour or two).
People always ask me where I’d recommend (as I’m known amongst friends and family as a bit of a frequent coffee shop visitor), so I thought I’d share some of my favourites over the coming months. I’m starting local, in South East London, as there are plenty of hidden gems here worth shouting about.
I won’t lie, prices aren’t exactly cheap in these cafes, but honestly they’re worth it. The flavour of the coffee is on a different level compared to your high street chains, and the atmosphere, oh the atmosphere alone is worth paying for. If you like people watching, then these are the places for you.
One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that behind any decent coffee is an expert barista. Yes, coffee beans are important, but there are so many brilliant choices nowadays, that ultimately it comes down to the barista. You want someone who really cares about the coffee they are making. Importantly, you don’t want them to burn the milk. Overheating or over frothing the milk results in a bad tasting coffee. It’s a fine art getting the coffee hot enough and frothy enough to please customers, without it going too far the wrong way. Rather them than me!
My coffee preference varies from day to day, but usually it’s a cappuccino or a flat white. Although in the right coffee shop, I wouldn’t turn down a double shot latte, or an americano. Variety is the spice of life right?
Oh and can you guess my favourite Spotify playlist? It's called "Your Favourite Coffee House". Yep, that’s for real. I really do enjoy that 'coffee shop vibe'. For some unknown reason, coffee shops are where I am often the most productive. Libraries scare me. Silent work environments make me cringe. They’re far too intense. I feel self-conscious, like I'm not working hard enough, and I feel judged for every scratch of my pen and flash of my phone. Coffee shops are the perfect middle ground. You're in your own haven, but you've got company when you want it, and of course there’s an endless supply of coffee and delicious snacks to keep you going.
Without further ado, here are my 4 current favourites in South East London. I'll be sharing other areas of London and other cities both here in the UK and further afield over the coming months, so let me know if you've got anywhere in particular in mind!
1) Daily Goods London – Camberwell
- This place truly is a hidden gem in the hustle and bustle of Camberwell where they serve seriously delicious coffee and rock a super chilled café vibe.
- It’s worth remembering if you’re ever in the area as it’s just a few minutes walk from King’s College Hospital, The Maudsley Hospital and the Camberwell College of Arts.
- Rumour has it they do acai bowls and chia bowls too, but I’m too hooked on the sourdough toast to branch out when I visit… Next time?
- Downside: There’s no loyalty card for us regulars (yet?)
- Monday – Friday: 7.30am-5pm
- Saturday: 8am-5pm
- Sunday: 9am-5pm
My Recommendation: An almond flat white and their avocado toast.
2) Federation Coffee - Brixton
- Tucked away on a corner in Brixton Village, this is my go to spot when I’m shopping in Brixton or meeting a friend coming down from central London.
- The team are super friendly and the coffee tastes incredible.
- They have a very simple, but delicious food menu too, with obligatory avocado toast and lots of chilli served on Brick House Bakery sourdough. Smoked salmon is an optional extra, but I’d highly recommended it.
- Downside: The toilets in Brixton Village cost 20p (so remember to take some change...).
- Monday – Friday: 8am-5pm
- Saturday: 9am-6pm
- Sunday: 9am-5pm
My Recommendation: A slice of banana bread with homemade salted cashew nut butter or avocado toast with fresh chilli, both alongside a soy cappuccino.
3) Stir Coffee – Brixton Hill
- Slightly apart from the main hubbub of Brixton, this café is a real find.
- The coffee is delicious and served with a smile. It’s clearly full of regulars and the whole places oozes friendliness.
- They do a great range of dairy free milks (almond/oat/soya) and use quality product such as Plenish almond milk rather than cheap, nasty substitutes.
- The flowers. Each table has a gorgeous upcycled Lemonaid jar with regularly refreshed flowers.
- Downside: It’s a bit of a walk from central Brixton, but easily accessible by bus.
- Monday – Friday: 7am-7pm
- Saturday: 8am-7pm
- Sunday: 8am-7pm
My Recommendation: An oat milk cappuccino (yep, it’s worth a try!) accompanied by a bar of Doisy and Dam chocolate.
4) Small White Elephant – Peckham
- This is my favourite spot to chill out in before or after yoga at Yogarise. I love it’s quirkiness and authenticity.
- There are elephants everywhere. On the chairs, the cushions, the walls... What’s not to love about that?
- They do plenty of dairy free options, including almond and oat milk, they do matcha for those who prefer their green caffeine and they do turmeric too for those who prefer the colour of the sun!
- The every changing range of vegan cakes, which vary week by week, are all delicious (although the chocolate ones are my favourite).
- Downside: Service is a little slower than most (but it’s worth the wait)
- Monday – Friday: 9am-5pm
- Saturday: 9:30am-5pm
- Sunday: 10am-5pm
My Recommendation: An almond mocha and a slice of banana bread with a shot of maple syrup.
Well there you have it. My 4 current South East London favourite coffee shops. I’d love to know if you’ve got any recommendations, either local or further afield. I’m always out and about, whether in London or in various cities across the UK, and I love having suggestions up my sleeve. Hit me up by tagging me @mylifeisforliving or using the hashtag #mylifeisforliving on social media, or comment at the end of this post.
Until next time,