Croydon’s Best Independent Café 2018: The winners are…

By - Wednesday 31st January, 2018

The results are in! Find out who won the Best Independent Café in Croydon title for 2018

Photo author’s own.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved in Croydon’s Best Independent Café Award this year, and here’s why. Over the past few months we’ve really seen the borough’s café scene go from strength to strength with several great new cafés opening and some of our old favourites upping their games, growing and improving in a very competitive climate.

Because it’s tough out there for small independent businesses, the ones that aren’t backed by big international brand names with all of the funding, PR and marketing support that brings. Not that the chain cafés don’t have their place – they do – but it’s also good to recognise the work the smaller cafés do in our neighbourhoods, providing community hubs and local support systems. Not just coffee shops, they are frequently art galleries, music platforms, workspaces, meeting venues, a place for tea and sympathy and basically just great places to hang out.

Cafés like Priscilla’s Tea Room in Sanderstead do amazing work in the community, running many charity events and supporting the local homeless community, among others. Smoothbean at East Croydon is a great networking space for local businesses and freelance workers, as is Byte in the TMRW hub in the High Street. And Parklife in Lloyd Park has become quite the spot for networking dogs – and their owners – to meet up after a turn in the park.

We’ve been spoiled with new cafés opening this last year. From the cool and welcoming Snake & Mongoose in West Croydon – bursting with the friendliness and enthusiasm of its young team – to the small but perfectly formed Little Coffee Shop on Sanderstead Road, serving some of the tastiest handmade cakes you will find in the borough. Ludoquist has created a bit of a social revolution on Croydon High Street, giving people the chance to drink coffee, eat cake and – as part of a growing worldwide trend – play board games for hours on end.

That particular space near the end of the High Street is fast earning itself the name of Croydon’s café quarter – alongside Ludoquist, there’s also Byte, Crushed Bean, Limitless-VR and – unfortunately opening too late for our band of reviewers to try it out – Coffee Shotter.

We did however get to try out Shirley’s newest café addition, Romeo on Wickham Road, a smart, sophisticated spot with an Italian flavour, which is run by a local husband and wife team and named for their young son – with his Italian grandfather providing the culinary inspiration. Another husband and wife team recently bought Lord Roberts on the Green at Woodcote Village, to save their local café, shop and post-office from falling into the hands of developers.

So, it’s very timely that we’re launching several new categories in the Café Awards this year – one of these being Best New Café. We’ve also launched awards for Best Café to Work From and Best Café for Art and Culture. And this year, we’ve kept our very popular People’s Choice Award, voted for by you the readers.

Winner of Croydon’s Best Independent Café for 2018

Our main award is Croydon’s Best Independent Café for 2018 and we’re delighted to announce that this year the award goes to Dalhousie in Crystal Palace, a haven of delicious cakes that call out to passers-by from its windows. Inside it’s a bright airy buzzy café, with a cool upstairs space. You’ll find it at 1 Westow Street in central Crystal Palace.

Photo by Bernadette Fallon, used with permission.

This was a closely fought contest and several other cafés were only a few marks off the winner’s total score, so we’d also like to give a special shout out to Urban Fuse in Coulsdon, The Little Coffee Shop in Sanderstead, Café Adagio in Addiscombe, Byte Café on Croydon High Street and Smoothbean on Dingwall Road.

Best New Café

The winner is The Little Coffee Shop on Sanderstead Road, a compact and very cosy addition to the community here, with mouth-wateringly luscious cakes baked by the New Zealand half of the couple who run it.

The Little Coffee Shop.
Photo author’s own.

Best Café to Work From

We have joint winners in this category – Smoothbean on Dingwall Road near East Croydon station…

Photo author’s own.

…and Byte Café in the TMRW hub on the High Street.

Byte Café.
Photo author’s own.

Both have everything you need for effective hub working – good wifi, power-points, great coffee, friendly staff – and are snazzy spots for meetings and meet-ups. Both also serve excellent power breakfasts and lunches.

Best Café for Art and Culture

The winner is Café Adagio in Addiscombe, where you can drink coffee and munch cake surrounded by a riot of frequently-changing artworks and there’s a monthly jam session where local musicians turn up and play.

Cafe Adagio.
Photo author’s own.

All of these awards were decided by our panel of judges, drawn from the readers of the Croydon Citizen, who were all happy to give up a few hours on selected Saturdays drinking coffee and eating cake and marking each café on a number of criteria.

People’s Choice Award

The final award, the People’s Choice Award, is chosen by the Citizen readers who voted for a shortlist of cafés (all also nominated by readers).

It was a hotly-contested race and after more than 10,000 votes being cast, the final result was extremely close. For that reason, we’re announcing not just the winner, but the second and third place runners-up as well.

First place: Crushed Bean
Second place: Priscilla’s Tea Room 
Third place: Smoothbean

Congratulations to all of our winners. But not only that – big congratulations to all of the independent cafés out there who keep going through tough times to provide a great service and give so much back to the communities they serve.

Independent cafés of Croydon, we salute you!

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette has been a journalist since the age of 7 when she devised, designed and launched ‘Fallon’s News’ – much to her family’s delight. Brought up in Ireland, she was born in Addiscombe where she now lives, though it took her several decades to find it again. She works as a journalist and broadcaster. Follow her at

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  • Anne Giles

    Some time ago I had arranged to meet a former Croydon Police Superintendent for coffee at the Byte Cafe. I am a Blue Badge holder and they had told me where I could park. Unfortunately, the nearest disabled bays were taken and the Council have made parking on yellow lines (which I normally can do) impossible, as they all had extra lines for loading and unloading, so I had to go somewhere else. I would still like to go there though!

  • explodingdog

    Great job with this!


    Congratulations to Crushed Bean – woo hoo!!

  • Jeannegenius

    Congratulations to Crushed Bean – Great quiches!

    Also to Smoothbean – friendly and nice sandwiches for lunch. The owner always welcomes me and has a brief chat.

    I must try some of the other cafés now.

  • Juls Sims

    Love the fact you have done this, cycling and cafe visiting is a match made in heaven.. will have to do a cafe crawl using this list!