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SITE London: Our Vegan Coffee Go-To

Columbia Road's Chicest Coffee Spot

Not One Animal Product In SITE...

Columbia Road Staying Woke. Love your local this weekend, or interrogate it if you think it could be doing better in the interest of the earth and, therefore, yourself. If you’re an East Ender heading to Columbia Road this weekend, we’ve done some scoping for you on the best of the best.

SITE is a local, vegan coffee shop to East Londoners, housed on Columbia Road, and open seven-days a week. Its founder, Elly, opened up the cafe, serving your pick of vegan croissants, ‘sausage’ rolls, daily organic soups, and sammies. Artwork installed throughout the space is designed by the founder herself, featuring cheeky slogans encouraging plant-based diets and the like. This past January, REV girls enjoyed rocking up to the space on Monday nights for Veganuary Movie Screenings that featured organic bubbles and treats. SITE is expanding to offer group, meeting, and holiday vegan-friendly catering, whilst it continues to make itself a destination for discussion. Keep on the lookout for upcoming events from dinner parties to yoga sessions this spring!

 What led you to open SITE? What were you doing beforehand?


I was working as a multi-disciplinary designer and lecturer having studied Architecture at the Royal College of Art.  I took on the shop as a space to work on some personal projects and to exhibit and sell my design work – the vegan coffee shop side of things was a happily accidental afterthought which has since become a primary focus of the business.  A colourful background in both graphic design and bar management has contributed some useful skills to this unplanned and unexpected adventure!

What is your relationship to veganism and sustainable living?


My husband and I decided to try going vegan almost two years ago and during this short time we have learned so much about so many issues relating to animal cruelty, health and sustainability we are now fairly evangelical about veganism as a movement. SITE has presented an opportunity for activism in this respect, but one that I hope feels inclusive and conversational. Through the shop I am trying to show how it is possible to be vegan without huge inconvenience or change. Our vegan branding is subtle and we try to engage with our customers through friendly dialogue and debate.

"I am trying to show how it is possible to be vegan without huge inconvenience or change."

How have you gone about framing your business in a sustainable manner?


I try to make sure everything we use – from ingredients to products to packaging – is produced as ethically and sustainably as possible.  Coffee shops obviously rely heavily on many kinds of single use products such as takeaway coffee cups… so before I opened I took a long time to research the best solution. The majority of single use catering products are made from plastic that is impossible to recycle effectively even with the best intent and is one of the biggest environmental issues facing us today. For SITE, I use a pioneering company called Vegware based in Edinburgh that makes single use catering products from plant based materials that are 100% compostable which means they can be thrown away with your waste food and drink.

"I try to make sure everything we use – from ingredients to products to packaging – is produced as ethically and sustainably as possible."

What does sustainability mean to you?


 Sustainability means reducing the negative impact of our (human) existence on nature to nil and living a compassionate life that respects the planet and all the species who temporarily inhabit it.  Veganism is the only way to do this. And our vegan croissants and coconut chai lattes are here to help everyone on their way!

How do you hope to continue working with the Columbia Road community to make east London more sustainable?


We want to continue to instigate friendly debate and dialogue about veganism and to educate and advise our neighbours, regular customers and visitors who are interested in living a more compassionate and sustainable lifestyle though events, workshops, sustainable products and delicious food. Waste is a major concern for us and we are always looking at ways to reduce our impact through working with local groups and organisations.

Want to create your own dried bouquet centrepiece? Click here for our tips on making your flower market finds go further…