12 July 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: Coleman Coffee Roasters, Waterloo

Just over five minutes' walk from my flat, Coleman Coffee Roasters' roastery and Saturday morning coffee bar in Bermondsey is about the closest speciality coffee spots to my home — and one of the first I visited when I moved to the area in 2012. I often stop by after my Saturday morning run and when I'm browsing the other local food and producers' wares in the arches of Spa Terminus.

It's taken me longer to visit Coleman Coffee's café in Lower Marsh, even though relatively speaking, it's still just down the road in Waterloo. The eponymous Coleman is the friendly Jack, who launched the roastery in 2010 and the newer café last year. Lower Marsh is one of the most vibrant and characterful streets in Waterloo with plenty of independent shops and eateries. It was bustling when I walked over on a sunny Saturday, with a lovely little market selling a mix of crafts, homewares and second-hand goods.

Coleman itself was busy too. The seats inside the small café soon filled up while I was there and the lovely garden in the back was also packed. Although I had heard great things about the Staffordshire oatcakes (savoury pancakes made from oatmeal flour), the only filling that caught my fancy was the smoked bacon and eggs and I wasn't quite sure I could manage a full serving. Instead, I ordered a piccolo (£2.40), made with Coleman's house espresso blend, which combines a Guatemalan and a Brazilian variety. There was filter coffee available too (£2.50) but as it was so busy, I thought that an espresso-based drink might be a more considerate order than a hand-brewed filter.

Meanwhile, I took my seat and enjoyed the Lower Marsh people-watching. The coffee itself was very nice — I've tried this Coleman blend before and it works very well as a piccolo or macchiato. Several people sitting at my table had ordered oatcakes and eventually, I gave in to temptation and ordered the bacon and egg variety (£7.50). I was lucky I ordered when I did because they then had to take a brief ordering hiatus to give them a chance to catch up on the lunchtime rush.

The oatcakes were really good. I am not, in general, a huge fan of big, fluffy American-style pancakes, whereas these were a lighter, more savoury affair — well, the pancakes themselves; the portions of the delicious, crispy smoked bacon and fried eggs were generous enough not to count as a light lunch in anyone's book. If you have a sweeter tooth than me, you might enjoy them with raspberry jam or marmalade instead, or you could try the Iranian nougat available on the counter.

At the café, they also sell bags of freshly roasted Coleman beans and some lovely Anna Hodgson pottery cups and bowls. If you're close to Waterloo station, Coleman is a great bet for a great coffee and refuel. I suspect that it isn't always quite so hectic as on Saturday lunchtimes, which may make finding a seat a little easier. Note, though, that they are only open until 3 pm throughout the week.

Coleman Coffee. 20 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7RJ (Tube: Waterloo). Website. Twitter.

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