Hello Forest Hill. I’m a local resident (Forest Hill/Catford borders) looking to open a small coffee shop in the area. I’ve lived here for 7 years yet have found myself drinking amazing coffee in coffee shops all around the capital except by my home. So I want to change that. The plan is to offer coffee from a local independent roaster alongside cakes and sandwiches but also a simple grocery element. Fresh bread has won the twitter polls unsurprisingly. I am updating new twitter polls every few days which take a second to click on so please join in and help me shape the business to your requirements. I am @BlytheHillShop. Expanding your comments and suggestions on this forum would be so helpful and might ultimately be where I gather the most data, so let’s get the discussion going and I’ll assess what kind of appetite we have. Thank you and I look forward to your comments!
I don’t want to be a wet blanket but do you think that another coffee shop is what we need or want round these parts ?
I live in hope that a proper greengrocer might appear. I would use it, and I am sure plenty of others would be delighted to see one start up.
I think a proper coffee shop near Blythe Hill Tavern would be fab; there isn’t a decent one nearby as No 41 is a good ten mins away or you’re then into Catford. I for one would go 2-3 times per week. Fresh bread eg sour dough would be so nice to pick up for the weekend. A coffee on the way to the swings etc. It would also further improve that parade of shops with the new Moon Lane Book Shop on its way. I think it’d be a really good thing. If you look at places nearby like Brockwell, Dulwich, Peckham more and more shops are becoming coffee shops and they are always very full
Hello and thanks for your comment. What area of Forest Hill are you? I ask because there is a cluster of cafes around the station with the only specialist being St David. St David is excellent but it’s not accessible for anyone with a pram. I’m not looking to open near the station but towards Catford where there are no independent coffee shops. A greengrocer like the one in Herne Hill would be fantastic, but it will have to compete with the large Sainsburys.
I’d welcome one near Blythe Hill Tavern, and would be a regular!
I can answer from the perspective of someone much closer to the Forest Hill station. As there is a good choice there I’d be unlikely to travel to your part of FH solely for coffee. I’d be more inclined if you were to incorporate a proper bakery with proper white loaves and bloomers. My artisan bread needs are satisfied by Aga’s Deli on Dartmouth Road with the added benefit of great cheese and charcuterie along with decent coffee.
Aga’s Little Deli is fab. Got a sour dough there on my way back from swimming with my baby this week. However I live on Woolstone Rd (by Kilmorie) and Aga’s only works if I’m going by. This would be much more convenient I think for a lot of those this side of the tracks probably from Colfe road East.
Thanks for your feedback. I agree that Forest Hill centre is well served so there would need to be something that differentiated me to draw in that catchment. Is there anything you wish you could get in Forest Hill that you can’t currently? Doesn’t have to be food. Thanks again
Hi there. Yes but we’re in a different market to them in terms of product and customer experience and will be more than 10 mins away.
I totally agree about local coffee and would love to see a place there… my first instinct to what I think you are suggesting is that it might be too early though - there are two Morley’s on that strip.
What sort of drinks are you thinking offering? If it’s something like Monmouth/Notes etc then I think your challenges will be:
- making sure the drinks are really of this standard
- that a very high proportion of high st coffee shoppers really don’t care for this kind of coffee
Either way useful info might be:
- Look up @ PerlantandPress - It’s a (yet to be launched) speciality coffee van which I believe may be making appearances at Blythe Hill Fields
- Look up @ SophNJimsCoffee - another coffee van which serves morning rush hour. They just moved from Catford Broadway to right outside Catford Bridge station and I imagine they have picked up a ton of customers commuting from the huge new development there (Catford Green).
- Another thread here Coffee in SE23
If the coffee was really good in your place I would probably visit once or twice a week (when working from home or passing on the way to the park).
Have you found a premises yet, and if so where.
I can’t really give constructive feedback without the exact location.
A bakery or a greengrocers in FH would certainly be a massive plus
@Mr_Robin_Banks Ever thought OAP’s might enjoy a night out clubbing too - I’m not far off 50 & can still cut some moves bro
Great post @Beige
Some more related topics:
Thanks for your feedback, really helpful. To comment on your points:
Yes the strip is run down but has a good pub and an award winning children’s bookshop and community space (Tales on Moon Lane) is opening next month - does this change your perspective at all?
In terms of the standard of coffee, I aim to be up there with the best neighbourhood coffee shops (using my knowledge of the coffee market and the roaster I have lined up) however I share your concerns that if you’re a Costa person you just won’t get it or care for it. So that’s a risk and based on the comments I have across various channels I’m not 100% confident the micro market will appreciate the technical differences to choose me.
It will be interesting to see what Perlant and Press offer as they will be close by and I love the idea of them in the park. In fact I have always rooted for them.
SophnJim will be successful due to location and I’m not competing with that.
So I guess what’s important for me to understand is that if you do appreciate quality coffee then why would you chose me over someone similar in quality. What can I offer that makes me more attractive. That would be so helpful to know.
The pub’s been there for a while and little overlap with coffee market, but agree the bookshop is a great sign. So maybe, slightly. Would love to be proven wrong.
Bread has been a pull for me in the past, but not to the extent of choosing between competing establishments. To answer your question I would choose between places, in rough order, based on taste preference, location, service, ambience and the cake offering.
And that’s a big BUT in my book.
I’d’ve thought that this catchment is very good for starting-up a small coffee shop if the business’s overheads are low enough for it to survive on a low turnover while the shop finds its feet.
It will probably take good few months of trial and error with bread and cake offerings etc before you get to the position where you’re not throwing unsold product in the bin but, hopefully, you’ll be selling enough of the good old high profit margin coffee to pay the rent until things pan out - and I hope they do! Best wishes.
Good post - someone has to make the first move, and hopefully they would be rewarded. I also suspect might coffee shops are often some of the first shops to open when an area improves.
I’d add that in central FH it felt like the coffee shops were the pioneers (along with other notable independent traders).
Yes, so, a big shout out to the old stalwarts of 5yrs and more -
STAG & BOW
CANVAS and CREAM
Well done guys and thank you for staying for us!
Yes, yes, yes! I live on Vancouver Road and I would absolutely love a coffee shop I can walk to easily with my toddler. We try to go to the Phoenix Cafe but often don’t have cash on us and I get caught out by the opening hours. It is the one thing I wish for nearly every day living here. Going into Forest Hill feels like a bit of a trip sometimes, as does Catford. I also find the coffee shops in FH pretty inaccessible with a pushchair. The service in the newly opened Smallworld coffee is wonderful but the location isn’t pretty when the traffic is heavy. Combined with the new bookshop, and proximity to the playground, I think you’d be creating a lovely little hub.
Thank you. The units are a little overpriced given the location and their size so it’s important I can secure a better deal to keep costs down while I find my feet. I plan to start with a smaller range and slowly build up. On that note I was considering opening at weekends only for the first month and then expanding the opening hours as the polls suggest weekends would be the most popular times. Does this align with how you see locals using a shop like this? Also what hours do you usually pop into your coffee shop of choice? On wastage I plan to donate to a local homeless kitchen but of course I want to minimise waste to start with.