If you’re looking for an alternative to London’s chain coffee shops, make a beeline for one of these feel-good cafes.
Your delicious coffee or homemade lunch could help a person with disabilities into work, a young person away from a life of crime, or get a homeless person off the streets.
Unity Kitchen Cafe at the Olympic Park
Unity Kitchen is a fantastic social enterprise, which trains people with disabilities to become baristas, chefs and catering assistants. The bright and airy Timber Lodge café in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is one of five Unity Kitchen cafes in London. Pop in to enjoy fresh, seasonal food, including sandwiches, hot-pot dishes and sweet treats. And if you’re visiting with children, don’t forget to check out the fun Tumbling Bay children’s playground next door.
Part café, part social enterprise, part art space, Crisis’s Skylight Café in East London gives homeless people and ex-offenders training in the service industry – and a route into permanent employment. Currently, the housing charity is helping two trainees into work every month – as well as serving up delicious homemade soups, salads and daily specials prepared in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
Living Water Satisfies
As well as being a lively café and social hub, Living Water Satisfies in Crystal Palace is a social enterprise, helping women to overcome domestic violence through counselling and supportive workshops. The café itself is both spacious and cosy, with comfy chairs, large windows and regular activities for children and adults. The menu has something for everyone too, with everything from a classic Full English Breakfast to Caribbean curries.
London City Mission’s Cafe Eterno
Tucked away on Neal Street in Covent Garden, Café Eterno is a friendly café offering an extensive menu and a warm welcome. Run by Christian ministry the London City Mission, the café is run on a non-profit basis, with proceeds going to fund the important work of the mission in local communities, hospitals and on the streets of the capital.
Café of Good Hope
Café of Good Hope is a jolly community café in Hither Green, South East London. It’s run by the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, which was set up in memory of London teenager Jimmy Mizen by his friends and family to promote peace and positivity in young people’s lives. A sister café, Sammy Ts, has also recently opened in nearby Mountsfield Park.
New Horizons Cafe
Chelsea-based New Horizons Café is one of several community hubs managed by The Camden Society. Run in partnership with Open Age, the café is located within the New Horizons Activity Centre for people over 50 and offers training and support for people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and people with learning disabilities. The menu includes everything from healthy breakfasts to lunches, afternoon tea and Continental, British and Asian specialties.
The Hornbeam Café
Vegetarian food made using local, organic and fair-trade ingredients (where possible) is on the menu at The Hornbeam Café in Walthamstow, East London. The cafe also hosts a Saturday market stall, a veg-box scheme and a knitting, sewing and crafts group. Run on a non-profit basis, the cafe aims to encourage local residents to live more sustainably – such as through its bread-baking collective – and also provides a space for local groups to meet.