Although I spend most of my work days in the centre of London, I certainly don’t live anywhere near there. I live well out in the southeast of the city, close to one of the main rail arteries. Out here the lands are wild and uncharted, at least by the creators of the London’s Best Coffee app, leaving me to find espresso based on word of mouth and the direct evidence of my senses.
It didn’t take long for us to figure out that Woolwich (don’t pronounce the second W) was one of the best local commercial districts for us; it’s easily accessible by bus, train, or a longish walk, and it has a large Tesco, a decent (but loud!) public library, a performing arts centre for children, the local council offices, and a couple of good restaurants. It also didn’t take long for us to discover the quite worthy Coffee Lounge, immediately adjacent to the public square. In fact, I think we went there on one of our first days in London.
Coffee Lounge’s image is very polished, in a way that almost produces cognitive dissonance. Because of the slick branding and in-store product advertising, you could easily mistake this shop for a chain. Indeed, it reminds me a bit of Coffee Culture in Ontario, though perhaps Coffee Culture is more akin to Caffè Nero. But despite the fact that there are a few other places called Coffee Lounge around the UK, this one is an independent local establishment focused on using local suppliers. Still, I have a strange fondness for the less polished look of some of the downtown places; perhaps the nerd in me interprets rough edges as a sign that the people who work there are too obsessed with coffee to be concerned with perfecting the decor.
In any case, this is one of the only decent espressos within a wide radius of my house (the other one I know of is Black Vanilla in Blackheath Village). The sandwiches and baked goods are delicious too, and I’m always tempted to try one of their fresh-looking fruit juices. It’s also an ideal location for sitting by the window, watching people go about their business around the public square.