The search for Croydon’s best independent café 2018 is underway

By - Friday 10th November, 2017

The judges are leaving no cake stand unturned

Cakes at Byte café, TMWR hub, Croydon. Photo author’s own.

We’re now over a month into the search for Croydon’s best independent café and our judging panel is out chucking back coffee, tippling tea and hoofing the occasional hot chocolate, as well as sampling copious quantities of cake. From the ‘widely renowned’ to the ‘lesser spotted gems’, we’re leaving no cake stand unturned to bring you news of the local café scene.

And this year, as well as choosing the best overall café, we’re awarding prizes in three new categories – best café for art and culture, best café to work from and best new café. There’s set to be a lot of interest in the ‘new’ category in particular, as several new premises have opened up in Croydon over the past year. Because of this, we’re devoting all of this month’s café update to new establishments. It’s great to see new business owners, fresh enthusiasm and even more cake in the borough and all of the very worthy newbies deserve your support.

Thanks also to everyone who has submitted nominations for the People’s Choice Café of the Year – we’ve got a fine list of nominees but we’re still looking for more. Remember, if you want to vote for your favourite café in the People’s Choice Award, you must first nominate it to be included on the list.

So far, this list includes the following cafés: Parklife café in Lloyd Park, Priscilla’s Tea Room, Sanderstead, Byte Café at TMWR Hub and Crushed Bean, both on Croydon High St, Snake and Mongoose on London Road, The Little Coffee Shop, Sanderstead and the Clocktower Café on Katharine Street in the town centre.

If you’d like to join the judging panel, please get in touch

Nominations are still open and to add your favourite café. Voting for the People’s Choice Café Award will be open later this year, with awards in all categories announced in early 2018.

If you’d like to join our judging panel to find the best overall café in Croydon – as well as deciding the winners in our three new categories – all you have to do is give up a few hours on selected Saturdays to hang out in s and eat cakes. The judges are a mix of people of all age-groups and backgrounds from all over the borough and new judges are always welcome. Email us to register your interest and we’ll let you know when the next café and coffee review is taking place.

New cafés in Croydon we visited this month

The Little Coffee Shop, 107 Sanderstead Road, CR2 0PJ

Photo author’s own.

Approving noises from our judges heralded our arrival in one of Croydon’s newest – and smallest (readers, we filled it!) – cafés. Open just five months, the café is run by a Hungarian/New Zealand partnership” he’s from Hungary, she’s from NZ. The quirky interior is packed full of interesting things to look at, including knitted babywear, local artworks and retro products – all on sale.

The cake is a bit special, baked by the New Zealand half of the duo, and includes Kiwi favourites such as the blueberry and sour cream cake, possibly one of the tastiest cakes ever. There were also red velvet brownies, double chocolate ricotta loaf and a pear and ginger tart among others, as well as an entire hot chocolate menu. It’s a find.

Snake and Mongoose, 36 London Road, CR0 2TA

Photo author’s own.

Is it a café or is it a restaurant? The answer is that it’s sort of both, but with a dedicated cake counter at the front and very relaxing vibes, we decided that the latest addition to the West Croydon dining scene was worthy of inclusion. It’s decorated with a range of eclectic accessories that those of a certain age will remember from the 1970s – Murano glass fish anyone? Huge basket-style lampshades are a quirky touch, as are the two cosy armchairs in front of a stove – you could almost be in your granny’s front room. There’s Marley Coffee (by Bob’s son Rohan), though on the day we visited, coffee wasn’t the strong point. Cake was, however: delicious red velvet cake and pear tart. We were also treated to chocolate cake samples and fruit smoothie shots.

It’s open seven days a week, which should give the area a great boost, and the friendly guys who run it also work in the hairdresser downstairs so there’s plenty of interaction between the two. Upstairs there’s a plan for a roof terrace for summer. The place has been open just seven weeks and is well worth a visit.

Lord Roberts on the Green, 19 Upper Woodcote Village, CR8 3HF

Photo author’s own.

It was once a post office, newsagents and deli in a rather upmarket area of Croydon – next door to the exclusive gated Webb Estate. Now it’s a shiny new café that still maintains its community function as post office and place to buy milk. Run by two locals – he works in the City by day, she presents A Place in the Sun – who were reluctant to see it fall under the developer’s wrecking ball – and so, they bought it.

It’s a very pretty space and serves excellent cake, baked by the staff and strong on both gluten-free and vegan. In fact, this may have been one of the best Victoria sponges I ever tasted – the fact it was also gluten free was frankly mind-boggling. Vegan coconut and pecan cake and apple cinnamon slices also went down very well. Another great find.

So, there are plenty of newcomers on the scene and plenty of old favourites still with us as well. All of our independent cafés play an important part in Croydon’s social scene, many support local artists and culture, give space to community meet-ups, fund-raise for and support local charities, offer working spaces and quite simply, give many people a lifeline into their local community. Coffee chains have their place of course, but independent cafés bring personality and a shot of true local colour. Without your support, they can’t continue – so get out there and eat cake for Croydon.

Coming soon…

We’re hearing interesting things about two forthcoming additions to the Croydon café scene, with Café Ludoquist – a board-game café – and the Photo Café both rumoured to be opening soon. We’ll keep you posted.

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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  • Carol Anne Whinnom

    I’m delighted you’ve included the Little Coffee Shop. It is already turning into a community hub. Recently they’ve linked up Spaniards who want to improve their English with Brits who want to learn Spanish, donate their old coffee grounds to the local allotments, who then repay in e.g. rhubarb or carrots for cake. Just lovely.