12 October 2016

The Caffeine Chronicles: Crol & Co

When the betting shop on the corner of Dunton and Lynmouth Roads closed down earlier this year, I crossed my fingers that this part of Bermondsey would finally get a more interesting proposition. The shop is on my commute home from work so I was able to follow the redevelopment in real time and before long, it became apparent that I was in luck. Crol & Co opened its doors at the end of September and when I stopped by last weekend, it was already looking lovely. Isn't the font on the windows particularly awesome?

Crol & Co is the name of owners Nico and Vanessa's online vintage and antiques business and their new Bermondsey coffee shop has the same name. Usually, the biggest upselling risk in a coffee shop is that you will end up upgrading to a single-origin coffee or buying a cake, but at Crol & Co there is a good chance you will go in for a coffee and come out with a new (to you) antique!

By the time I arrived during the early afternoon on Saturday, the lunch rush had left some of the food offerings in short supply — a good sign of what a busy first week they had. There are a few small tables inside and another on the pavement (which also has a place to leave your bike); the latter was a less appealing prospect when the autumnal rain set in. The furniture is mismatched and you can pretty much pick your furniture era — either side of mid-century. I opted for a cosy armchair and then went to the bar to order.

The coffee is from Grind and there are just espresso-based drinks on offer for the time being. I ordered a macchiato and an avocado toast and then went to admire some of the art on the walls. The 'hipster' in the frame is actually Nico's great-great uncle and the picture of the gorgeous Belgian orchards used to hang on his wall.  It's great to get a story with your coffee.

My macchiato (£2) was good, with a strong, smooth shot of espresso at its heart. I don't think I've tried Grind's espresso outside of their own cafés, but the barista pulled a nice shot. The avocado toast was also excellent: a generous serving, with little dishes of chilli, salt and pepper that allow you to season to your taste. The rest of the food menu is fairly minimalist for now, with a couple of quiches and a couple of tortillas.

Most of the cakes had already sold out (Nico was, Vanessa told me, on a cake run) but luckily for me, there were still a few slices of millionaires' shortbread left (£2.50) — these were particularly delicious and, unusually, came infused with rosemary, a pairing that worked very nicely.

Crol & Co was pleasingly busy even on a rainy Saturday. The location is a little out of the way, but only five minutes' walk from the numerous buses of the Old Kent Road and Southwark Park Road/Grange Road. It's also right on the Waterloo–Greenwich cycle quietway (hence the bike rack at the front). Although there are a few coffee spots on Bermondsey Street and, of course, closer to the river, the Monmouth roastery, it's wonderful to have such a lovely café even closer to home. I hope that its arrival will encourage other small businesses to come to the area.

Crol & Co. 77 Dunton Road, London, SE1 5TW (Tube: Bermondsey). WebsiteTwitter. Instagram.

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