An Alternative Guide to Coffee in East London

Living in East London it seems as though a new coffee shop is popping up every five minutes. With so many cafes vying for your affections it can be a little confusing which one you should visit. There are books out there and even festivals, all hoping to point you in the right direction. So I thought I’d add my two cents and let you know about my favourite coffee spots in East London. The one thing that makes this post stand out from all the others? I can’t drink caffeine. You’re probably sat there with a look of shock on your face, wondering how I can even begin to explain myself. Well I’ve actually come upon some amazing cafes that also offer decaffeinated coffee. In the self-confessed land of coffee snobs, that’s a pretty big feat! It’s also not that easy to find decafe coffee that actually tastes like, well, coffee. Ben is usually in tow too though, and he does drink coffee, so I always end up asking him “Hows’ the coffee?” Boy do I miss coffee!
Anyway, sit back, relax and enjoy my alternative guide to coffee in East London.

Yellow Warbler – Northwold Road, Stoke Newington
YW is new to the world of coffee and to Stoke Newington. It’s off the main high street but that doesn’t mean that it packs any less of a punch. Looking at the menu you wouldn’t expect any decafe, however their table menu would prove you wrong. I ordered a cappuccino and found it to be chocolatey and sweet. Still, it had a genuine coffee taste to it, rather than an artificial flavour like some decafe. The South American street food on offer is also worth a mention, although it is a little on the pricey side.

Brick Lane Coffee – Brick Lane
Whilst you’re browsing the numerous vintage clothing stores on Brick Lane you may find yourself a little thirsty. Luckily, Brick Lane Coffee is smack bang in the middle of all the excitement. Their choice of coffee is impressive, ranging from banana frappes (which are amazing in the current heatwave) to a dirty chai (that’s a chai latte with a shot of espresso). They do also offer decafe and soya milk options for those who may not want to partake though. The coffee ‘alternatives’ are delicious and are definitely worth trying out.

Beyond Retro Cafe – Stoke Newington High St, Dalston
Beyond Retro don’t only cater to vintage loving fashionistas. Their Dalston store also offers somewhere for you to put your feet up after you’ve had a tough day shopping. They offer a variety of coffee-centric drinks, as well as decafe and soya options. The drinks are reasonably priced without forgoing quality. I also love their gluten-free food options, and the free Wi-Fi, of course.

The Hawkhurst Vault – Brick Lane
Ok ok, THV is actually a tea room, but it does also sell coffee. So what better alternative for the non-coffee drinker than tea? That way you and your coffee loving friends can enjoy the best of both worlds. Shhh don’t tell the coffee lovers I mentioned tea.

Ozone Coffee Roasters – Leonard St, Shoreditch
Ozone take coffee pretty seriously, which can be a little daunting for those who don’t drink it regularly. However the surroundings in Ozone’s Shoreditch cafe will definitely put any worries to rest. With two massive floors there’s plenty of space and atmosphere to soak up. I couldn’t see any decafe options on their menu, but I did love their inclusion of hot chocolate – my caffeine-free choice when decafe isn’t around. The chilli hot chocolate is to die for, and their coffee certainly impressed my friends.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my mini round-up of the best alternative coffee stops in East London. If you’ve enjoyed it and are still on somewhat of a caffeine high, check out Currys post about the UK’s love for coffee.

Photo Diary: Taste of London, Matcha and more

Last week was a pretty busy one for me and my camera. I headed out to several press days, did brunch and visited Taste of London.
 If you have a penchant for beef burgers, or novelty items Maiden is going to be the place for you this Christmas. Whereas Sticks & Stones offer more of a relaxed, one-off vibe with their items (for both men and women). In between press days I received a matcha care package from my good friend Jess, all the way from Japan. It was the ultimate pick-me-up, which I really needed. Speaking of food, I shared brunch with friends in Village East (my favourite haunt south of the river) – I highly recommend the turkey hash and beetroot bloody mary. I headed off to the Taste of London straight after, which in hindsight wasn’t the best of ideas, although it did keep my purse firmly in my pocket. There were plenty of tasters so I did sample a few items; Korea Foods and Go Coco being my favourite exhibitors. 

Luna & Curious AW Christmas 2014

I stopped by Luna & Curious this week to check out their Christmas offerings. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when Christmas comes early for the press, and we have to put up with carols and sparkles. Thankfully Luna & Curious weren’t playing Christmas music, but there were plenty of sparkles.
Luna and Curious is my favourite lifestyle store in Shoreditch. The items they carry are high quality, delightful and unique. Of course their AW 14 collection didn’t let me down. Beautifully intricate jewellery, stand out accessories, and winter warmers were just a few of the items that stood out. I was particularly happy to see Floss Gloss nail polishes – L&C are one of only two stockists in the UK. Their polishes are wonderful and I’m so glad to see a store stocking a different brand. Henriette Loftstrom‘s jewellery shone brightly and certainly caught my eye. The Dog Days Plates have been a personal favourite for a while – I need to add Sophia to my collection. However I think the item that epitomised the elegance and quality of the AW collection was the Belle Rose fleece-lined jacket. The lining was incredibly soft and warm, whilst the outer was smart and chic. 
It may be sweltering outside, but I can’t wait for the colder months to come and for the Christmas spirit to hit again. I already have my eye on a few items from L&C for family and friends (and myself), and I know they won’t be disappointed. 

You can shop these items and more at Luna & Curious.

Introducing: Playn Eyewear @ Boxpark

Playn eyewear are back at Boxpark, and I went along to check them out. Now before I get too far ahead of myself, I should probably introduce the brand. Playn Eyewear is a German company founded by the designer Denis Beyer. They design and sell their own unique sunglasses and glasses frames. They first came to Boxpark in Shoreditch in 2013, and now they’re back!

When I visited with V.A to check out their frames, I was impressed with their clean-cut feel. The whole store felt very serene, and cool – the perfect place to pick out a pair of sunnies. Now I just got a new pair of glasses and sunglasses, however I was still keen to try everything on. I know, I’m terrible, but the range of frames on offer are just too tempting. I fell head over heels with the Miami Vice – Sarah frames (pink gradient) as soon as I put them on. You can see me wearing them above, and I like to think they suit me pretty well. It’s the amazingly subtle rose tint on the lenses that drew me in though. It makes everything look so romantic and fun! These are the perfect instagram filter…for life. I can definitely see myself wearing these whilst lounging in London Fields with friends, or browsing Brick Lane’s street food stalls. Of course you can wear them outside of East London, if you fancy.

Spring has brought out the sunshine so there’s no better time than now to grab a pair of sunglasses. Or maybe you feel your prescription specs are looking a bit dull, and you could do with an update?

Head over to Playn to browse their frames and see if something catches your eye!

Where to Eat in London: Onthebab

Onthebab | Korean Streetfood | Lunch/Dinner | Old Street, Shoreditch | Website
– reservations not available –

Onthebab is a lone Korean restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch. I headed there around 12pm on a Tuesday with V.A of Chopstickpanorama.

Onthebab is a tiny restaurant located on Old Street, yet they’ve managed to fit in as many tables (and a bar) as possible, without it feeling uncomfortable. The interior matches the exterior, making sure the minimal chic feel of the restaurant stays in touch with it’s Shoreditch roots. We were greeted by a very welcoming waitress, and an empty restaurant. I gave a sigh of relief that we had made it before the lunchtime rush. We had a hard time choosing which dishes to have, not because there were too many, but because they all sounded delicious. We finally decided on the Spicy Pork Buns (to share) and a Bulgogi Bibimbap (each). I started my meal with a refreshing Cinnamon Punch – a Korean soft drink that I don’t see often. I was a little worried when the pork buns arrived, with their almost glowing red innards. No matter how much I try, my tolerance for spice is extremely low. They were spicy, but just under my barrier, and boy were they delicious. The flavour inside one of those tiny little buns is immense! I imagine this was partly due to the cut of pork and the way it had been cooked to perfection. I found myself fearful at the impending last bite. Unfortunately it came, but I was eager to try my Bulgogi Bibimbap so I recovered pretty quickly. Bibimbap is a traditional Korean rice dish with vegetables and gochujang (chilli pepper paste), usually served with a fried egg and meat. Well at Onthebab you get the whole shebang! We chose the bulgogi beef as it’s a favourite of ours. The dish was large and came with plenty of meat, egg, fresh vegetables and rice. It didn’t taste spicy, so I added a little more gochujang to mine, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Towards the end of our meals the lunchtime rush had hit and the restaurant was almost full. Still, the service was fast and impeccable. I left satisfied, and impressed with the food and the lovely people running the establishment.

It’s not often that I crave a particular dish, but I can honestly say that I will be back to Onthebab for the Spicy Pork Buns alone . Of course I’d also love to try out more of their delicious dishes too. This is one restaurant you can not overlook!

You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato.

OOTD: East London Calling

Sweater – H&M | Trousers – H&M | Bag – Zara | Sandals – Primark | Watch – Marc by Marc Jacobs | Sunglasses* – Ray-Ban

Hanging around East London isn’t anything new for me, I know. So you’d think that I’d be getting a little bored of the area by now, right? It becomes all the more exciting though when I get to share it with someone else. That’s exactly what happened when I met V.A (of Chopstickpanorama) for lunch at Onthebab. We had been meaning to meet for a while so we decided to take advantage of our time. Of course that meant an impromptu photoshoot around Shoreditch in East London. As if it could mean anything else when two bloggers are involved.
It was so nice having another blogger there to take my photos. V.A is a wonderful photographer so she knew exactly what to do. I very much appreciated her guidance and telling me to “stand straight.” I learnt a lot of things from that lovely little lady – thank you V.A. I think I’ve caught the photography bug all over again!
Photos taken by Chopstickpanorama