Fee and Brown

An independant coffee shop in my home town; Beckenham. Really? Imagine…

I didn’t dare believe it might be any good. I first heard whispers from Lucky’s last week, who tweeted that they had a new stockist with a post code dangerously close to my own. On Friday, Dan from Caravan Coffee then tweeted they had a new account in Beckenham. Really? I tweeted him straight back, and it transpired Fee and Brown were opening this very weekend. I quickly followed their Twitter account, but alas they remained resolutely tight lipped. I tried not to get my hopes up, what were the chances of Beckenham getting a proper coffee shop?

I walked past on my way home from work Friday evening, peering into the shop, watching people beavering away inside readying things Saturday’s opening. It all looked so unfeasably promising, like a cafe you might find in a trendy part of London. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Beckenham? Probably not. It is a small town filled with near to nothing inspiring, I’ve certainly never written about anywhere here before, it’s a sea of chains and charity shops. We may not have a Starbucks or McDonalds, but I think  that’s mainly to do with a lack of parking/loading space, but we have just about every other name going; Cafe Nero, Costa, all the pizza chains, many of the pub chains, Nandos, even a Wimpy. Although actually I have a bit of a soft spot for Wimpy, it reminds me of spending evenings with my Granny, who always ate her burger with a knife and fork, brown derby’s for dessert were a special treat, I noticed they’ve granted it a swanky refurbishment recently, I can’t say it’s going to tempt me in though. We have a Waitrose, M & S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, you’re not going to go hungry here, we used to have a Coffee Importers (I can still remember the smell, although I was too young to remember going in) but we have NEVER had a decent coffee shop, with good coffee.

Saturday arrived and you can imagine where I was headed. I walked past first, on my way to Waitrose to pick up some baking gumph; it was rammed and I was concerned I may not get a seat. After some loitering in the baking aisles I hit Fee and Brown about 3pm as it was calming down a bit. I stepped through the doorway and was almost immediately greeted warmly by owner Del, with child firmly fixed to hip. She just about recognised me from my Twitter avatar and introduced me to everyone whilst telling me all about the cafe. The couple are actually from North London but have friends in the area and recognised a major gap on our high street. So far so good.

Please let the coffee be good.

Del’s husband, Ercan, is behind a grand display of cakes and sandwiches, these are from various suppliers, most local, including The Cinnamon Tree Bakery, and they look fantastic but I don’t try on this occasion due to an afternoon of baking I have planned. Their shop manager, hailing from Melbourne, is presiding over a La Marzocco, and looks to be taking things very seriously. He hands me my espresso, with very Tapped and Packed spoon, I take it to a window seat, willing it to be delicious….And?

It is, it is!!

I am beyond thrilled. You have no idea how exciting this is. I don’t HAVE to traipse into London for a coffee fix. Of course I will, but I can also now roll out of bed and stumble up the road for good coffee too. Brilliant.

It’s not just the spoons that remind me of the wonderful Tapped and Packed. No, the design of the place is very much in the same style. The bolted down, functional tables and benches I remark are I’m sure the same, I’m told they were bought before T&P had them, but the process of procuring the location was such a long one that they’ve lagged behind somewhat. More similarities too; ceramic sinks filled with ice for their soft drinks, and neutral colour scheme seem to emulate the other cafe. Whatever, it’s a good look and I don’t see Tapped and Packed opening anywhere nearby to ever be concerned. Beckenham is a family orientated town, so any cafe is going to have to have some focus on this, and yes, it has. There are a number of little folk around, but the space is large enough to accommodate without them being intrusive. Although open plan, there is an area at the back that is set back with a large communal table that would be ideal for families and groups of friends; I envisage it becomming the setting for many epic brunches and breakfasts.

 

Initially the coffee will be exclusively Caravan, and yes the focus here is very much on quality tea and coffee, there’s talk of using Climpson and Sons and Hasbean in the future; only whole milk is served, and I’m excited to learn of a brew bar being introduced shortly. I mentioned Lucky’s earlier, and yes, Fee and Brown stock a selection of their remarkable little chocolate enrobed cake bites, Del actually gave me a couple of the miniature ones to try, but, well, you know I’m already a fan.

I went back this afternoon for another nose and a spot of post gym lunch, and I find it reassuringly busy, clearly Beckenham was crying out for real coffee (and tea). I arrive lateish and sadly they’ve almost run out of the sandwiches I was drooling over yesterday, so I have a satisfying slab of ginger and carrot cake. It’s worth mentioning that the prices are considerably cheaper than their London counterparts; an espresso is just £1.60. The idea here is for the cafe to evolve gradually as it settles into Beckenham life, opening hours may shift and there’s also talk of getting some local artists in to add a splash of colour to the space.

I see myself spending a LOT of time here. I’m already scoping out the best seat in the house, plan on having my own personal coffee cup and plate, you know, that sort of home from home thing. I’ve only been twice so far, but Fee’s is already jostling for a spot amongst my favourite coffee shops.

Ever.

 

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30 Responses to Fee and Brown

  1. Phil says:

    sounds amazing, you know what I always quite like Neros, more the atmosphere than the coffee but hey looks like you got both here, and…. you brought back a little nostalgia for me, Saturday morning pictures and the smell of the coffee house coming home up the high street, like going back 50 years, ah well ..

  2. Looks fab – must pay it a visit.

    You’re wrong about Beckenham never having a Coffee shop, might be an age thing ;) can sympathise with your Granny – knife and folk Wimpy LOL.

    There used to be a super restaurant /tea/coffee shop many moons ago where Prezzo now is – times change and Fee & Brown looks just wonderful!

  3. jbc says:

    Went in this morning. Ace. And you’re right, exactly what Beckenham needed. No more chains! Yes!

  4. Roger says:

    Good review! Thank you and I look forward to trying it. I remember when Importers was the only actual coffee shop (and cafe) in Beckenham – long gone now and it will be good having a decent cafe that clearly knows about coffee.

  5. Rhona says:

    A breath of fresh air in Beckenham – I have waited for you for far too long Fee and Brown, welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome.

    • chloe says:

      Phil – yeah, nothing like that smell….You’d love Fee and Browns!

      Jackie – Oh that’s interesting! It’s amazing how quickly things change, and we (I) forget…Pop in, I really hope you like it!

      jbc – I know, yay!!

      Roger – Thankyou! I think you’ll really like it, lovely couple too.

      Rhona – My feelings exactly!

    • Nikki says:

      I couldn’t agree more. We popped in yesterday and it was fantastic, lovely welcoming staff and the coffee was superb… One of the best I’ve ever had.

      Welcome Fee & Brown

      • chloe says:

        Scott – Thankyou. Fantastic isn’t it?!

        Nikki – It’s fast becoming one of my absolute favourite places!

  6. Del says:

    Chole, and others, thank you for such a lovely write up, you really have nailed it about Fee & Brown, there is so much more to show and come.

    You defiantly pick your spot and we will endeavour to reserve it for you.

    Thinking of planning a regular coffee Twitter group, either one morning or afternoon, what do you think?

    Del

    • chloe says:

      Del – Thanks for taking the time to post a comment! Ha ha, I’ll pick a spot once I’ve scoped out the best one ;-)

      A twitter group would be amazing, not just for your shop but for the Beckenham community. I can’t do weekdays personally unless it’s before 8am, but any time weekends would work. FAB idea x

  7. del says:

    Hey Chole,

    You got in there before me again today, will not be able to get there until tomorrow now (( maybe catch you over the weekend.

    Yes it would be great for the community and as there are a lot of very interesting people in the area, it would be a great opportunity to expand the networking scene.

    We can put it out there and see what best suits, watch this space.

    Have a fab day.

    Del x

  8. Scott Wallace says:

    Great write-up. Love, love, love Fee & Brown.

    Best. Coffee. Ever.

  9. Tuck says:

    Oh well now that place looks just grand. If ever there were a reason to visit Beckenham, this would be it!

    Quality coffee – tick
    Quirkly cupware – tick
    Intelligent design – tick

    Might just have to jump aboard a train..

    L

  10. Richard says:

    So glad people rate this coffee shop. Del came by my store yesterday and purchased a couple of my London Letters to put up in the cafe – and F and a B – so perhaps you could get a picture of them for me! (www.doiknowyou.co.uk).

  11. Stella says:

    Thrilled at the opening of F&B!!! I only saw it yesterday on way home and nearly crashed the car, i actually did a u-turn and drove past again! Beckenham has a decent independent coffee shop! Hurray!!!! Will be coming in over the weekend for sure and at least once a week : )))) please let me know about the twitter group too xx

  12. Veronica says:

    Spotted the shop from across the road, couldn’t believe my eyes, had to stop and walk back just to make sure!Hope it works out for you guys, hope we the local folk will reward your efforts with our custom and you will not disappear after a year! I’m yet to come in and try the coffee but as a former coffee shop manager for mainstream coffee chain i always look forward to independent stores!!!

    • chloe says:

      Veronica – It’s pretty amazing isn’t it, and I can assure you the coffee really is good. I’ll pass your good wishes on to Del and Ercan!

  13. Romani says:

    Can’t believe I missed the arrival of F&B in Beckenham! Walked past it today and couldn’t believe my eyes. What a treat; well designed interior, friendly staff, THE best coffee I’ve ever tasted AND a carrot and hazelnut cake to die for…..heaven! Keep up the good work and look forward to my next visit!

  14. Annie says:

    I went in this morning with my Mum and it is SO lovely! Just what Beckenham needs, I can only hope that more branches pop up soon! x

  15. Rupert says:

    Absolutely fantastic

  16. Rupert says:

    Fee & Brown you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    Great coffee, great atmosphere, attentive staff.

  17. Jbuxie says:

    I’m a regular at Fee & Brown. Lovely place, fab staff & yummy cake! The only thing I would suggest is maybe a variety sizes of coffee.

  18. Del says:

    J Buxie, thank you for your feedback, we are glad you like the place and have become one of our regulars, what exactly do you have in mind when you suggest a variety of sizes?
    Best

    Del

  19. sharon Sisley says:

    Fee & Brown have received rave reviews and living close by was eager to try! I’ve just returned…. bitterly dissapointed. Having waited a while for a free table, my husband and I were seated & ordered ouir lunch & drinks. A few minutes later, a waiter asked if we would mind moving as our table was for 4 and there was a party of 4 ( just arrived) and that a space for 2 existed at the end of the cafe. We said that was fine, collected our belongings ( no assistance offered from waiter !) & duly made our way to our new seats – only to find we had been perched onto the end of a large table – the others here were 1 big party – totally crammed. we decided to leave and urge Fee & Brown ( who I am sure, like everyone says, are producing great coffee and yummy goods) to take heed of this & think a little of customer service in future.

  20. Judith says:

    This afternoon I met a friend in Fee and Brown for coffee – my first visit. What a treat. Was brought some water (unasked for)while I was waiting for my friend to arrive which was a thoughtful touch. We didn’t sample the delicious-looking cakes as I’m trying to steer clear of temptation at the moment, but I had an iced coffee which was perfect and we both enjoyed our drinks. Lovely place, great ambience, friendly service – I will definitely be back again soon and hope to have some cake next time! Great to see such a lovely cafe in Beckenham.

  21. brian says:

    Unfortunately the coffee is not worth the trip, overly bitter the baristas could do with training on the grind.
    On the positive side the food was great, and cakes tasty.

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