Hi, I’m Krystyna, a blogger at passionandpeace.com, and a London resident. London has literally thousands of coffee shops and cafes, but finding one I love is always a priority for me, wherever I am. I love to visit with friends for a long chat and a catch up and there’s also something great about settling down on my own with a great cup of coffee and a book for an hour. To be honest, I often spend as much time people-watching as I do reading, especially in the two gems I’m going to share with you today.
Hackney Coffee Company
The Hackney Coffee Company has the BEST coffee. It is in Cambridge Heath – a strange and eclectic area of London nestled into the north eastern corner of Bethnal Green. This coffee shop is a mix of old east London and the newer, trendier London that is slowly but surely spreading out along the Hackney Road from Shoreditch. Possibly the warmest, most welcoming coffee shop of the many that can be found in this area of London. The exposed brick walls and industrial lighting of theis converted brewery are softened by multitudes of green plants and soft, yellow light. Friendly staff take your order and chat happily with you as you try to choose between the delicious treats on offer, then bring freshly made coffee to your table when it is ready. I’d like to say that my favourite cakey treat in the Hackney coffee shop is the peanut butter brownie, but sometimes I must admit to being seduced away by the lamingtons from time to time.
The cafe is split into a series or areas, each with its own unique ambience. My favourite seat is the leather chesterfield by the main door. For me, it’s a perfect place for kicking off my shoes and curling up with a good book, or (more often) sitting with the book neglected on my knee as I watch people wander past to order coffee and escape the business of London life for a while. A little further in tables surround a large fireplace holding a row of plants in huge glass jars. At the very back of the building the cafe widens out into a large airy space bathed in light from huge skylights and sparkly fairy lights, filled with tables of people chatting, laughing and enjoying the company of friends.
If you wander down Frith Street in Soho you might wonder why the strange, old-fashioned cafe opposite Cafe Nero has such a gaggle of people constantly wandering in and out. But step inside and you will instantly realise why.
Bar Italia is the most amazing place. Walking into this little cafe is like taking a step back in time (and across Europe). The Bar Italia is a family business owned by the Polledri family. It has been around since 1949 and is a huge social centre for the Italian community in London. There is almost always Italian football on the tv and the chatter around the crowded cafe is as much in Italian as much as it is in English. The red and white formica floor is said to have been laid by Uncle Torini and the Gaggia coffee machine that they use every day has been there over fifty years.
The atmosphere in this little cafe is wonderful.It is a perfect place for people watching as it is so vibrant and active, but the reason I keep on going back time after time is the amazing coffee. It is rich, smooth and dark. The strength of the coffee is best described not by my words, but by the fact that there is a steady stream of taxi drivers and police officers stopping by all through the night to grab a cup (and a chat) as they work through the night.
If you do stop by next time you’re in Soho (and i seriously recommend that you do) don’t forget to try the cannoli – it’s the perfect little treat to go with your coffee.
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