CLAPHAM CAFÉ & COFFEE GUIDE
SORTING THE BEAN FROM THE CHAFF
Clapham and coffee go together like, well, coffee and cake. In fact, there are so many coffee shops and cafés in Clapham. Almost too many. It’s all too easy to stumble into a place that looks decent but turns out to be pretty dire. It gets annoying. Trust me, I lived there.
A café is about great drinks, food and, more importantly, an atmosphere that lends itself to conversations – I want there to be a buzz when I walk in, not uncomfortable silence. As for coffee houses – well, the dark stuff is the priority, and this list only includes those that knock it out of the park every single time.
We hope you find the guide useful – let us know in the comments.
Juliets Café & Bar
ONE OF MY LIL’ SECRETS
Juliets sits in the café spot at Studio Voltaire. Studio Voltaire, an art gallery, champions emerging artists; Juliets, one of my favourite cafés in the area, champions serenity.
Whilst this sounds like I’ve crawled up my own a***, it’s true: the space is pared back (it’s not part of the giant hipster machine); food doesn’t favour style over substance like so many places; and the courtyard garden is the perfect place to sip coffee, catch up with mates and park life’s worries at bay.
Grabbing a bite? The menu is constantly evolving and guaranteed to serve up some surprise delights. I’ve found many Clapham cafés stick with the same items for yonks which can get a little tiresome. There’s no chance of that here. I don’t know anyone who has had a bad experience.
It made it to the top of our Clapham brunch picks for good reason: Juliets Café is seriously impressive.
Hopper Coffee House
CLAPHAM’S GOLDEN CHILD
Hopper Coffee House is no stranger to Clapham: if you’ve ever grabbed a coffee outside of Clapham North station, you’ve been part of the Hopper Journey. What started off as Bean About Town – supplying commuters with their daily caffeine fix from the wonders of a horse box – has quickly become one of the most popular cafés in Clapham and beyond (they’re also in Balham and Wandsworth).
Italian and family-run, they know a thing or two about the dark stuff: when I lived in Clapham, I would get my morning fix outside of Clapham North station and rarely found places that served a better cup. It was just a shame I couldn’t sit in a physical space and enjoy it with friends – so it won’t come as a surprise that the opening of their Clapham North café was music to my ears.
The coffee is fragrant and intricate (you can taste subtleties of flavour, something poor-quality coffee doesn’t lend itself to); their pastries and light bites follow suit (shoutout to their almond croissants); and the rest of the menu makes for a brilliant brunch. They have classic brunch items but my favourite has to be the Poached Peach & Parma Ham on Toast – the perfect blend of savoury, sweet and damn-right delicious. Pasta’s served from 12pm for those wanting something a little heavier.
Hopper Coffee House has an ever-growing set of loyal customers and it’s obvious why: the purveyors of high-grade coffee are transforming into a go-to café brand. We adore it.
FOR A DOSE OF ZEN
Nue Ground is a community-led café focusing on holistic wellbeing.
Whilst it is a café, the vision is far greater than that – they want to become a lifestyle & wellbeing brand offering events, retreats and spaces to dispel life’s worries, all set in the heart of local communities.
The space is very much on brand with neutral hues and the use of natural, sustainable materials (things like handmade tiles, reclaimed concrete and bamboo lights). The community aspect of the café is also evident in its varied customer base (from cyclists, workers, families, builders, etc.). Far too many cafés cater to Insta & TikTok rather than their local area, so it’s great to see somewhere doing it the other way around.
The focus on health is no better reflected than in their menu: drinks include caffeine-free super lattes, smoothies, pressed juices and the increasingly popular health shots. This ethos extends to food where you can grab the likes of poke bowls, green burgers, roasted squash & feta and much more.
A very different kind of space to the rest of this Clapham café list and one you should try. It’s nice getting out of the classic café scene and into somewhere a little more zen.
The Common Espresso Bar
HOSPITALITY AT ITS BEST
The Common Espresso Bar opened over 5 years ago and has a special place in the heart of the Clapham contingency.
This is one of my personal favourites, not least because it’s a proper espresso bar – the kind where everyone knows your name, your order and your story. Keisy and Jorge own the place and provide sunny smiles on otherwise cloudy days. It’s the kind of hospitality that makes you feel like it’s your hundredth visit despite it being your first – these sorts of places are rare to find and absolute treasures when you do.
At the time of writing, coffee is roasted by Union and perfectly poured by Keisy and her wonderful team. Watch out for Keisy’s latte art – she’s an award winner and known for throwing some milk-based shapes.
As for food, expect pastries, toasties and sweet treats (we’re talking snickers brownies, nutella doughnuts and homemade cakes – the perfect coffee companion). And if you’re not in a coffee mood, you can grab teas, juices and smoothies. They even serve protein smoothies for when you can’t let those post-gym gains go to waste. Gluten intolerant, veggie or vegan? You’ll have no shortage of options.
The easiest way to sum up Common Espresso is by pointing out the retro school desk that’s used as furniture. It’s a symbol of reflection; acting as a reminder to sit back, relax, and reflect on all the good things in your life. And this is what Common Espresso is all about – a moment away from the mayhem.
Lane Eight Coffee
WHERE COFFEE DOES THE TALKING
An espresso bar to measure other espresso bars by, Lane Eight is starting to take London’s coffee scene by storm. And they’re only getting started…
Lane Eight’s mantra is rooted in being an antidote to the fast-paced mayhem of modern life. Lane eight is the outside lane on a running track; the slow lane. This is where they want you to find comfort: to take a moment of calm and enjoy it, rather than rushing back to the mania.
It’s a small space that champions minimalism and subtle detailing, most evident in the 3D panelling behind the counter and statement light strip that puts coffee making centre stage.
Coffee-wise, the menu is succinct, just as you’d expect from an espresso bar. As for the quality, I’ve only ever had flat whites and they’ve been fantastic. Like, seriously good. It’s the kind of place that reminds you of what coffee can be – flavourful and fragrant; velvety and smooth, actually leaving a lasting note. A lot of places in Clapham use Assembly Coffee as do Lane Eight, but it seems to hit differently here. I’ve no idea why.
My Aussie friend has been with me a couple of times and rates it in his top 3 places to get a decent flat white in London – I can’t give better praise than that. A must-visit Clapham coffee shop.
2 Love Tea and Coffee House
A PROPER MEETING CAFÉ
Not all coffee houses are made equally, and 2 Love Tea is a testament to this. In fact, I’d say it’s much more than a coffee house; it’s a proper meeting café. A place to go with friends, talk for hours and embrace your inner social butterfly.
First things first, there are more tea options than you can possibly imagine (have a different blend each week and you’ll finish the offering after a year…) and over 15 types of single-origin coffee, in addition to house espresso blends. Safe to say a lack of options won’t be a problem.
As I said before, it’s a proper café environment with an ‘at home’ sort of vibe – it does feel like you’re at someone’s gaff. The seating around the wooden piano is a great touch: unique, homely and cosy.
Pair your drink with a pastry, cake, cookie or sandwich. I can’t vouch for the sandwiches but their cakes are top-notch (if they have the chocolate Guinness cake available, snap it up).
Bobo & Wild
HEARTY DISHES FROM A RISING STAR
Born in Shoreditch and a product of Lockdown, Bobo & Wild is the brainchild of Bobo, a talented chef on a mission to create a go-to brunch brand. Spoiler: he’s on his way to doing so.
His Clapham venture is super close to Clapham Common station and focuses on hearty brunch dishes that’ll have you coming back again and again. Dishes range from small, healthy bowls to Bobo’s take on brunch classics, like creamy field mushrooms on sourdough with a poached egg (my fav). Head to the counter and you’ll find plenty of pastries, cakes, and a silky Basque cheesecake – SO good.
Drinks-wise, expect the usual coffee menu that also includes a v60 pour-over (yes, I’m that person), in addition to teas, juices, shakes and smoothies.
This might be a new café in Clapham, but it’s on its way to becoming a staple for the Clapham contingency. It’s already one of our favourite places for brunch in the area.