As the days get shorter, colder and damper we can all lack a little motivation. But what better motivation than cake. We like cake, and coffee, and tea and beans on toast. We also lack motivation sometimes. So here’s our guide to our favourite cafes around our neck of the woods where all these thiings can be aquired for "motivation. We understand our neck of the woods isn’t everyone’s neck of the woods so we offer a hollow apology as this may well be totally useless to quite a lot of our readers! (Sorry. Not sorry.)
- The Blue Egg/Knead Food
This Essex classic has to be at the top of the list really. Originally made famous by regular visits from local pro’s (Yup we have those, although the really good ones don't visit so much anymore!) The Egg provides an excellent target as it sits around 20 miles from a few major towns. As such it is always pretty busy with cyclists from all these over local parts whether weekend warriors or midweek self employed shirkers. Upon arrival you are sure to be greeted with good coffee and an excellent array of full meal options as well as some very good cakes. Personally we love a bit of beans on toast, maybe some sort of date cake scenario. There are loads of vegan and GF options that make sure that there is something for everyone. So you can’t go wrong really!
- Carl’s/Mandy’s/Acorn Tea Hut
Located opposite the Kings Oak Pub at High Beech what The High Beach Tea Hut lacks in artisan coffee and gluten free options she makes up with genuine hospitality and satisfying fayre. Traditionally known as Carl’s Tea Hut but also as Acorns or Mandy’s it is situated at the top of High Beech in Epping Forest (The Alps of Essex) Very much a social hub as it is a café. Frequented by cyclists, dog walkers, postmen and cabbies alike the tea hut provides sustenance on baking hot busy weekends and cold Tuesdays alike. Home of a very good minnestrone soup and the classic liver sausage and cheese roll (non vegan) but also an excellent dark bread pudding. A great stop off mid loop, on the way back into London or while out and about exploring the forest.
- The Feel Good Café
This is a fabulous vegan café hidden away just off Chingford High Street. We were introduced to The Feel Good by a good friend of ours and now it provides a fantastic respite from training sessions in Essex’s alpine region. The Feel Good was the first fully vegan Café in the borough of Waltham Forest and since Idan opened in 2015 The Feel Good has become a popular community hub promoting healthy eating and animal rights. A visit to The Feel Good is never wasted. Highly recomended would be a Buddha Bowl. This daily special contains a mix of salad, greens, healthy grains, roasted and raw veggies as well as chickpeas and hummus that makes for a great lunch stop. Always a great coffee, a fantastic feed and a warm welcome.
- McGarrys Antiques and Tea shop (Jerichos)
A little beauty tucked away off the Village Green in Blackmore Jerichos holds a distinct charm that you can not buy and we haven't found anywhere else. Judy serves a range of cake, biscuits, tea and coffee and here you can disappear into a world that was once forgotten and lose a bit of time in good company. Judy’s ornamental garden is open during the summer for a small fee and the shop also doubles as an antiques shop holding a plethora of different trinkets and charms to adorn even the finest local home.
- Andrewsfield Airfield
A bit of a left field choice but if you want a reasonably priced coffee, a bacon bap and an insight into how to plan a flight up and down the north Norfolk coastline then this is the place. Not strictly a cycling café so don’t expect anyone to be reeling off the velominate rule book but ask some questions and you might learn something!
- The Viper
Technically not a café, so you’ll have to buy a beer. They’ve only recently begun to take cards so best be prepared with cash in case the internet isn’t working or whatever. Remember you are deep in the woods and no one cares if you live or die. Take cash in case. The Viper is a unique pub really, set in the woods it's the perfect venue for a pint in the summer after a casual loop or in the winter having ploughed through arguably the muddiest forest in Essex. Home of the best beer festival in the county and indeed a beer named after the pub itself.
- Norton Heath Café
Home of the vegetarian breakfast with black pudding (we think) Norton Heath café is the sort of place that used to exist but that now sells smashed avocado. Be reassured an avocado has never set foot through these doors (that we've seen) and no one here has ever heard of halloumi (although we've never asked). Norton Heath Cafe serves everything from breakfast to lunch and dinner. We always rate cafes where you can order breakfasts by a number and has a complimentary paper that isn’t The Times. That’s why we love it. But remember The Sun is a comic, not a newspaper. That’s important.
- The Foragers Retreat
Not open on a Tuesday but otherwise quite a special place. Owners Carl and Beth change their menus regularly based on what is able to be sourced or foraged locally and the results are quite unique and absolutely fantastic. Situated just outside the village of Pebmarsh, a little north of Halstead, it represents a nice punch from the village through some of best countryside Essex has to offer. Highly recommended as a destination that offers something a bit different and home of the largest slice oof bread and butter pudding known to man.
Another local favourite and stablemate of our local coffee roaster The Bakehouse not only has a fine array of baked goods, breakfast and lunch options (and fine coffee) but also a great patio area ideal for larger groups to spread out and enjoy a summer’s day. When the weather isn’t as good it offers a cosy interior to hide away from the elements. There is some avocado on the menu… and probably halloumi as well. See we’ve looked after you all here!