Ugh. Costa Coffee, one of the most dreary coffee chains on the planet, has opened a new branch on my local high street in Crystal Palace. To them, I say EFF OFF. We already have at least six independent places to drink coffee on that particular portion of the street alone. It’s so bloody cynical and greedy for a chain such as this one to completely ignore what already exists in a local area and just shove its way in. I hate their coffee, which has all the personality of warm brown sludge. It comes in gallon mugs, like we are all dozy, milk-and-caffeine addicts needing frothy drinks the size of pillar boxes, and their decor is frankly BARFWORTHY – all burgundy and coffee-coloured velour armchairs with polka dots and heavy wood, the colour scheme reminding me of the mid Nineties and episodes of Friends. You half expect the gang to be sprawled on a sofa inside, wearing loafers. Except they wouldn’t be, because Chandler, Monica and co at least had Central Perk…
The antidote? Go to any of the other local cafes within a stone’s throw on Westow Street, of course. Kicking off with Black Craft Coffee’s stall at Victory Place at the weekends, we also have Blackbird Bakery, Cafe Thing at Antenna Studios, Domali, Urban Orient (for their amazing Vietnamese coffee), Mi Cocina Es Tuya, Living Water Satisfies, etc etc – each with its own distinct personality and style, with no whiff of corporate bland. If you fancy a trip further afield, I have just discovered an AMAZING coffee place 20 minutes’ walk from Crystal Palace, tucked away down a quiet residential street in West Norwood. Volcano Coffeehouse is within the HQ of the Volcano Coffee roastery, so you can be sure the brews you’ll be drinking are the best of the best. Approximately 1000 times better than any old shite you’d get in a Costa.
Just wander down Vale Street in West Norwood, past the Lambeth Recycling Depot, and you’ll see a stately 1930’s warehouse building rising up out of the terraces on the next street:
Inside, on the ground floor, this marvellous space, which wouldn’t be out of place in Clerkenwell or Shoreditch:
This is what you’ll be drinking:
Good lunch options – toasties, curries etc:
Old machinery to goggle at:
The atmosphere is very chilled, staff are lovely, there are quite a few people beavering away on laptops, and you aren’t made to feel like a social pariah if you turn up with a baby. It’s a bit of a palaver getting a buggy up the front steps, but there’s usually someone coming out of the building who is happy to help you out if you need it. There is even a baby change (which would never happen in Shoreditch)! And if you need a chocolate fix, the same building houses gourmet chocolate brand Rococo Chocolates which normally you can buzz up on the entryphone to visit, but last time I tried, a tremendously rude woman told me to go away. Bizarre.
West Norwood is on the up in a slowly-slowly kind of way (trendy barber shop already in place) but it’s not quite Peckham Rye yet. But give it time…
Volcano Coffee House
Unit F01, Ground Floor,
Parkhall Trading Estate
40 Martell Road
London SE21 8EN