A review of Rapha Cycling Club, a bike and coffee shop in Spitalfields Market in East London. Visited in 2017 with other globetrotting friends. 

Piccolo latte at Rapha Cycling Club — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

Understated cycling shop entrance hiding a coffee bar — Photo by Athena Lam

When there are so many hip coffee options hidden in all the winding lanes of East London, why would one walk into Spitafields market, emptied of the original thrift stalls that made it so famous decades ago? The answer lies behind the glass installed between the classic bricks: the shops.

The small wooden doors are sometimes better at hiding than revealing the gems inside, like the cafe that Rapha Cycling Club has. Despite passing through Spitafields many a time while living in London, I didn’t know about it until a friend wanted to meet up there.

Covered outside seating within Spitafields Market — Photo by Athena Lam

Coffee and cycling go hand in hand. In every corner of the world with espressos and two-wheel bikes, there will be a contingent of early morning riders sipping away as the morning commuter trickle quickly escalates into a steady stream clattering soles. The founders of Rapha Cycling Club took the extra step to cater to its member cyclists, and members of the public such as myself are the beneficiaries.

While Nude Espresso almost just across the arcade walkway is constantly abuzz with business banter and travelling coffee connoisseurs, Rapha is a quiet refuge. It isn’t designed for remote work and has no plugs nor Wi-Fi, but it will almost always have a spare seat on any day of the week (unless it’s a race day).

Also, they serve Workshop Coffee (my second favourite roaster in London). The staff were super friendly and made my piccolo latte without a problem. Admittedly, I prefer the version at Workshop’s HQ at Clerkenwell, but the nutty espresso and well frothed milk definitely hit the spot for a quick recharge.

Rapha’s cafe seating — Photo by Athena Lam

Their Story / What I like About Them:

Racing bikes on display — Photo by Athena Lam

Rapha Cycling Club began in 2004 and has since become an international network of cycling clubhouses. The space is first and foremost a clubhouse, with a cafe, and I think because of that, there is less pressure to be catering to the general public. I think it translates to staff generally being more relaxed about taking your order. The bikes are the real centrepiece and the great coffee is just the fuel.

The cafe also has multiple screens showing live and classic races throughout the year, and a larger public screen just outside the shop. As a cyclist, just being surrounded by bikes makes me an unreliably biased reviewer for this shop.

Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso (Workshop Coffee)
  • Food: Light pastries
  • Cafe Space: Approx 20 people
  • Friends: Hangouts, meal
  • Workspace: Individual & 4-person tables, 1 table outside
  • Remote Work: No WiFi or plugs
Address:  61-63 Brushfield St, London E1 6AA
Website:  Website
Hours: Weekdays: 8:00-19:00
Saturday: 9:00-19:00
Sunday: 11:00-18:00

If you liked this post, check out my East London Coffee Walk!

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