Where to Get The Best Coffee in South East London

By Marcela Ferreira

When it comes to coffee spots, we all have our favourites. 

But with so many new places opening in my area, I thought I would challenge myself to find the top ten in South East London. 

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After some research and a lot of coffee (!) I thought I had my chosen ten, until I decided to reach out to some trusted social media friends and ask what their favourites were.

The response I got was unprecedented – people take their coffee very seriously - and I quickly realised that I would have to start all over again. 

I can’t vouch for the rest of London, but the South East has a lot of excellent coffee spots.  Fully trained baristas, locally sourced produce, hand roasted coffee and great service are just part of what they have on offer.  

Throw in personal blends, individual décor, ethically sourced beans and socially responsible roasting and you find yourself in a sea of coffee houses abundant with choice, taste and personality.

The biggest thing I have learned during my research is that I can categorically say there are a lot more than just ten great places to have coffee in the SE London (in fact, I had to squeeze in two extra ones on my list, so it’s technically ‘twelve places’, but who is really counting?).

But for the purpose of this article, I included the ones that myself and other locals have been most loyal to, as well as trying to cover as much of the area as I could. 

There is no doubt I will have missed a few gems (SE London is a big place after all), and I expect there will be some people unhappy that I failed to mention an obvious spot.  So, I’d like to invite other locals to add to my list and let us know of the new (and old) places we should try next. 

Before you look to see who made the cut, you should know that all the places listed already sell excellent coffee, so I have tried to highlight the extra things they have up their sleeve. 

Here we go.

Arlo & Moe, Brockley

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A favourite amongst families and well equipped when it comes to high chairs, baby changing facilities, kids’ books and colouring pens. Its quirky décor (check out their salt and pepper pots) add to the relaxed atmosphere.  Delicious cakes and a three-time ‘Time Out Love London’ winner. 

Blue Mountain Café, East Dulwich

This little beauty has been here since I can remember (I have lived in the area for over 15 years) and it recently had a face lift too.  I love it that is has survived the many perils of the high street, keeping its loyal customers and welcoming new ones. Also a family favourite.

The Archie Parker, Forest Hill

 (c) Lewisham Licks

(c) Lewisham Licks

A big hit amongst locals, The Archie Parker kept coming up again and again during my research.  It’s beautifully furbished and has a seriously delicious menu with ingredients locally sourced.  You can also hire it as a party venue once its closed –  from 4pm.  Nominated ‘Best Coffee in Lewisham’ by local foodie @LewishamLicks.

Café Prov, Herne Hill

A little on the eccentric side, but family friendly and award winning never the less. Most SE Londoners will either have been there or know of it. Always busy, and next door to the lovely Brockwell Park. Win-win.

Archibald’s, Catford

 (c) Lewisham Licks

(c) Lewisham Licks

I haven’t come across a Catfordian that will not vouch for Archibald’s.  Breastfeeding friendly with good food and a casual vibe has made it a favourite amongst young families. All dogs welcome.

Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Deptford

“In barista language mouse tail refers to the ideal shape of the stream of espresso.” Get ready to geek out on coffee here!  I also love their mission statement “to change the perception of really good coffee for at least 1 person a day”.  Check out their gorgeous Deptford Railway station branch.

Monmouth Coffee, Bermondsey

Roasting and retailing coffee since 1978, Monmouth’s know a thing or two about coffee.  If you haven’t got time to brave the queues, you can buy their coffee online. Their website is excellent and full of information about their coffee, process and where it comes from. Worth a read.

Norris & Knight, East Dulwich

Delicious breakfasts and smoothies have made Norris & Knight stand out.  They also have a lovely outside space with real chickens at the back – a big hit with the children!

Dalhousie, Crystal Palace

This one was new to me, but it didn’t disappoint. Delicious cakes, coffee and a lovely place to relax in – take the paper on a Sunday morning for some quiet time.  Kids will love their afternoon tea.

Otter, Sydenham

Great food, inhouse made cakes, and fab ice cream sundaes. Also has a handy gift shop.

Old Spike Roastery, Peckham

It might be small, but it is perfectly formed.  Aside from its delicious coffee, the Old Spike Roastery is also a social enterprise providing training, job and housing support for people experiencing homelessness in the UK.  Young, hip and perfect for the freelancers in the area.  Make sure you try their café Spike & Earl for a modern brunch or cocktails after 5pm – in Camberwell.

Not forgetting the coffee vans:  

Soph N Jims Coffee

Coffee on the go is big business! This mobile coffee master has come highly recommended by a lot of locals, and though I haven’t managed to sample the goods yet, they were so highly praised, that I feel they deserve a spot here too.  Find them at Catford Bridge Station Monday-Friday 6am-12pm.

Also watch out for the new kids on the block Perlant & Press who will be at Blythe Hill fields during the weekend and Catford Market at the last Sunday of every month.

Other places worthy of an honourable mention:

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La Scala, Grove Vale – Much loved by the locals, this coffee house recently had a lovely makeover.  Amazing paninis!

My Jamii Café, Honor Oak – non-for-profit social enterprise helping young people with training, work placements and wider opportunities.

Kanella & Co. East Dulwich – A coffee house and a Deli with delicious authentic Greek treats.  Modern, light, bright and family friendly.

Perks and White – Great coffee just before you get on the train. What’s not to like? (Herne Hill and Tulse Hill station)

Anderson & Co, Bellenden - Delicious menu plus you can hire it for your own private party, there is also a real cool space at the back.

BlueBrick Café, East Dulwich – You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this place. Us meat eaters, love it too.  

Gail’s, Dulwich Village - Amazing pastries, cakes and breads. A real treat.

The Lido Café, Herne Hill - Gorgeous view. You can go for a swim or a walk in the park afterwards.

Boulangerie Jade, East Dulwich – solid service, good food. Great for kids and flexible working.

St David Coffee House, by Forest Hill Station - Delicious coffee, plus they sell craft beer and wine throughout the day.

Lucas Bakery – Spacious, with plenty of room for a buggy of six - popular with young families in the area.

On the Hoof Bistro, Sydenham - Spacious, with great cakes and an easy atmosphere. It’s also fully licensed if you fancy something stronger.

We know Londoners take their coffee fix seriously so if we've missed somewhere amazing, let us know in the comments.