Image credit: eatsleeplondon.com
For those in need of coffee, Bermondsey Street is a goldmine. For such a small, discreet street, there are many providers of really great coffee. However, if you are looking for a coffee chain, I am afraid you are out of luck - B Street is for independents only. If you are more interested in the brand, there is Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero on Tooley Street.
If you come to Bermondsey Street, you will probably come from the north end, nearest to London Bridge Station and The Shard. So we'll cover Bermondsey Street's coffee shops in the order that you'll meet them.
Chapter 72 is so called because it occupies the ground floor of Number 72 Bermondsey Street, which is one of a beautiful row of 5 Georgian houses on the right as you come down the street. It is just before you come to the garishly pink and orange Fashion and Textile Museum.
Depending on the weather, there will be a couple of tables outside Chapter 72, nice for the shop, but not so nice for the users of the pavement. Inside, the café is modern, but also dark and discreet.
Like many of the coffee shops on Bermondsey Street, Chapter 72 serves Monmouth Coffee. , which is based just a short walk to the east, across Tower Bridge Road. However, just because you can get it everywhere, doesn't mean that Monmouth isn't really good coffee.
You can get the usually array of artisan baked good to go with your coffee. A highlight is the oversized sausage roll - make sure you have it heated!
Chapter 72 is adjacent to a small archway called Carmarthen Place. If you look down you'll see The Shared, a community-created sculpture, and also a pair of wooden eco houses, featured on Grand Designs and winners of a Wood Award in 2007.
If Chapter 72 isn't to your taste, or you just can't get a seat, then there are plenty of other options; the next is the B Street Deli on the right. As the name suggests, this has a bit more to offer on the food front, but the coffee is also great. There is the usual set of tables and chairs on the pavement, if the weather is good. There is also bar-stool type seating inside for a few customers.
Eatalia is a cheerful, traditional café and a slightly less expensive option compared to others on the street. As well as coffee and croissants, you can get great Italian ice-cream here.
As well as the tables on the pavement, there is quite a lot of seating at the back of the restaurant - handy to know if it is raining.
This bakery/coffee seller is a fairly recent entry to Bermondsey Street. It is clear that Comptoir Gourmand's offering of decent coffee, expensive sourdough and a wide spread of sweet pastries has hit the mark in this intensely competitive café environment - at most times of the day you'll find queues lined up outside.
As well as coffee, you can also get great sandwiches here. It is a bit more shop than café. There is room inside for a few to stand. Outside, you'll find the inevitable bistro tables.
Like almost everywhere on the street, Comptoir Gourmand makes the maximum use of the premises by switching from morning bakery to lunch crowd sandwich seller to afternoon tea to wine-bar in the evening. Bermondsey Street is very popular and rents are notoriously high, and businesses have to squeeze out every penny that they can.
Caphe House is a very successful Vietnamese restaurant. During the week, the queue to get pho stretches down the street.
As you'd expect, it also provides coffee in the Vietnamese style; iced, and sweetened with condensed milk.
Would you name your coffee shop after a pun? I'm not sure I would, and the owners of the building didn't think much of it either.
Aside from the name, the shop itself is generally making a different statement to others on the street. Anti-establishment instead of urban chic, it is a comfortable sprawl, more reminiscent of a student house than a modern café.
What the décor and name get wrong, the coffee and food offering redeem. So if you are sick of trying-too-hard-to-be-cool coffee shops, you might like F*ckoffee.
The Watch House sits right at the end of the main stretch of Bermondsey Street. It is definitely the smallest coffee shop on the street and also has the most interesting backstory.
The building sits on the corner of St Mary Magdalen's Churchyard.
In the 1800's, there was a brisk and grim trade across the country in grave robbing to supply medical schools with bodies for dissection. At times this even strayed into murder.
In order to protect the graves of the newly buried, a watch tower was often built next to graveyards and manned every night to watch over the graves and discourage grave robbers. It is hard to imagine a more scary occupation!
With Guy's Hospital close at hand, of St Mary's churchyard naturally attracted the attention of the grave robbers, or resurrection men, as they were also known. Hence this quaint octagonal tower was built with a fine view over the graveyard.
The current use of the building is much more pleasant. You can get the usual array of hot drinks and pastries. The seating inside is very limited, there's room to seat only 10. But if you can't find a place to sit inside, you can always take your coffee and sit out in the graveyard, which is now a very pleasant park with benches to sit on.
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