08 February 2014

The Caffeine Chronicles: Browns of Brockley

Bermondsey is good for coffee production, but there is a serious shortage of nice places to sit and linger over a top-quality brew. This caffeine dearth is fairly standard for south-east London but a quick glance through The London Coffee Guide pointed me in the direction of Browns of Brockley.

Brockley is only about three miles from my place, but with its leafy streets and chilled-out suburban vibe, it feels further out. It also boasts the popular Brockley Market, in the car park of Lewisham College on Saturday lunchtimes.

Local food producers sell their wares and an array of street food vans, including Mother Flipper, feed the hungry masses. I was sorely tempted by Swine Dining's bacon sarnies (great name, right?), but it has been a bit of a meat-heavy week, so I went for a Fish Dog instead — Mark Hix's take on street food, with a chunky, posh fish finger served in a hot-dog bun with fancy mushy peas. Very tasty.

The sky started to look very ominous so I hurried to Browns before the heavens opened. The cafe is just opposite the Brockley Overground station but about as far from your typical station caff as you can get. I made it just in time and grabbed a spot at one of the tables. Browns is pretty small inside, but has a friendly, casual vibe that makes it easy to linger over a coffee and cake, and a copy of Caffeine magazine. I ordered a macchiato and a raspberry-almond cake.

The cake was delicious, but when I sat down I had missed out on the chocolate-hazelnut muffins. Next time.

My Square Mile macchiato was top notch: smooth, chocolatey and strong, just the way I like it. As I'd come such a long way, though, I decided to try the filter coffee too. They were brewing up a Brazilian Square Mile coffee called Ambiental Forteleza, which I've tried before and really liked for its richness and sweetness.

Warmed and reinvigorated after my coffee, I stepped back into the outside world. Almost immediately, the rain restarted, followed by a bout of hail. This was unfortunate, as I had decided to head home via Telegraph Hill Park. I was pretty soggy when I got there, but at least the sun came back out just in time for me to admire the view. A bright end to a lovely first visit to Brockley.

Browns of Brockley. 5 Coulgate Street, London, SE4 2RW (Brockley Overground). Website. Twitter.

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