The new Browns

Browns of Brockley, the Coulgate Street coffee shop, has undergone a mini-transformation. With a devoted fanbase and a tiny floorplate, they've rejigged the layout so that they have more space for coffee-making, yet somehow just as much seating. BC can confirm that the coffee is still as good as ever.

31 comments:

Chloeirvine said...

photos please (from a other-side-of-the-world Browns megafan)

Cafe society said...

It certainly looks a very professional job.  They have clearly given a lot of thought to how everything should fit together for maximum efficiency and the wood finish looks great. The interior design seems to make a much better use of the available space.

No no no said...

Hmmmn it feels like a chain now, it's fairly sterile, and they seem to have redesigned it with buggies in mind, when I went there were three in there making a six seat table into into a two seat table, they've also put the prices up, and stopped the loyalty card. This was one of my favourite coffee shops in London, doubt I'll go there much more.

Rose Bud said...

we went in today, i like the new look, but I think it does look slightly empty with all that new space. We *really* love it there, coffee is excellent, as are the cakes and the service is always very friendly. It would take a lot more that a few pushchairs to stop me from going there.

Rose Bud said...

£3 for a flat white *is* quite dear though...

N Lowe said...

I have always loved their coffee but unfortunately for an independent coffee shop they are too expensive now : ( plus they took away their wi fi ...

In fact I think they have become more expensive than Monmouth in Covent Garden.

Andrea said...

Sorry, but over £3 for a cup of coffee?! Is a '£3 cup of coffee' the new '£4 pint'? No matter how nice it is, that's an awful lot. Also - the sign on their front door which explained their reasons for raising the price didn't, as far as I remember, mention the refurb, which seems a bit disingenuous. Surely one (the main?) reason they've raised prices is to help pay for the work they've done to the place? (Not that there's anything wrong with that - it simply seems strange that they didn't mention that in their poster.)

Darylhenderson said...

I love the new layout. Looks great. 

terrencetrentderby said...

McDulwich 

Bizarre said...

3 quid a coffee and no wi-fi?! What sort of coffee shop are they trying to run? What a joke.

price checker said...

£3.20 actually.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, Top Chef are still offering affordable cups of great tasting coffee along with their breakfasts.

Flat white said...

I'm a little sad about the new Browns. 

Unfortunately I don't think the refurb is a complete success although I think could be improved with a minor change. The 2 benches at the back of the cafe are way too close to each other, and getting people on every stool around them doesn't make for a relaxing coffee. I can see people turning away if the only seats available are the ones on the insides of the two benches. If one of the benches was shifted a foot nearer the counter this would solve the problem.The pricing IMO is excessive for a local cafe. I read the notice on the door and understand that the coffee beans are the best, etc, the milk is best, etc but personally I would be happy to drink coffee that is decent, fair trade stuff that isn't quite as 'good', but is more affordable.The removal of wifi feels instinctively like a mistake and must be because people were sitting in there all day nursing their 1 coffee - although surely for every one of these there are people who only have a coffee as an excuse to sit online for a bit, and end up buying more than really they intended too.The removal of the loyalty card seems a shame particularly as the prices have increased significantly.Browns is one of the best places in Brockley and has been instrumental in Brockley's emergence as a destination for people who live outside of se4. I want to see it do well and thrive but I'm worried that these changes, the pricing in particular, is going to put people off and therefore affect business.I should say that it still always seems busy when I go past, so maybe I'm in the minority of people who baulk at spending £3.00 on a coffee, but I for one won't be able to go as much as I'd like in the future.

Caffienated Brockley said...

Seems the Broca next door has also had a re-furb.  Spooky timing! 
It also looks a pretty good job.  With all the other places we are spoilt for choice.

The_Local_Crackhead said...

Anyone know why they decided to paint the Broca cack-brown?

local said...

I agree that the two benches are too close together and they could be moved apart without to much trouble. There is not enough room for people to sit on both opposing tables in the middle as it is to cramped and I witnessed people put off from sitting there, including myself for this fact. The prices are a bit steep too, but that is business. It still is the best coffee in brockley. No Wi-Fi? Not sure about that either.

Kofi said...

There's a hand-out in Browns which talks more about the price rise and changes. Basically it's business plan is to produce the highest end coffee and sandwiches it can, and looking at the hours invested and the returns they are getting means they need to charge more or go under. Now whether they could still produce a great product without having to go to such extremes of dedication is another matter, I guess the market will decide if it's worth the cost...

oh dear said...

agreed - did they think they could quietly slide in that gleaming new £13k espresso maker without somebody noticing!  madness..

in contrast... said...

Check out Hilly Field cafe, their coffee is fantastic, just as good as Browns - not sure they physically milk the cows like Browns do, but it's only £2 and there are more seats!    

Beeperbeeping said...

it's ruined. the lightness of the place is gone. the cabinetry is all very well made, but far too heavy for the room. it just feels awkward, which is odd because there's possibly less in there now, with the boxes gone . . . and the train times!!
i appreciate that the LOVELY staff needed more room. but tho i've been a regular over the past year or so, walking up from queens road, won't be back very often now with it being £3 for a coffee and the botched ambience. am sad.

Richard said...

Went in this morning for the first time in ages.  Soul has been ripped out of it. New design is terrible as I had to move out of the way twice whilst ordering as the girl had to get by with food and someone else just coming in the door. 

Plus (and I know other people have said this already)... £3 for a flat white?  Are you actually having a laugh?  It's not even like you're going up by reasonable amounts.  When Browns opened I swear it was £2 (someone told me £1.50 but I'm not sure) for a flat white.  Within months it was £2.50 and now it's £3.  So that's me done.  I pay £2.50 in Soho where the rates are probably double to triple of that outside of Brockley station. 

darkdarkblue said...

I love(d) this cafe. I regularly hiked over the hill from Nunhead to grab a well made coffee. However, the new price changes make me very sad. Whilst I understand that the milk is great quality and the coffee beans are hand selected, I just don't care when I'm £3.20 lighter of pocket at the end of it. Anderson & Co on Bellenden Road are still £2.50 a cup, their coffee tastes awesome and they sell amazing bread as an offshoot. So, now my hike will take me that way in future, instead of to Brockley, which is a shame. I wish I could but I just can't afford that kind of caffeine habit! 

Reviewer said...

Why does their business plan not include maximising the hours they are open?  For a small coffee bar like that, they should be open for the early morning commuters and catch others that work late in the evening.  They have also removed the Wifi - another mistake.  I would have thought the price hikes would have been enough to discourage people who linger too long.

The new arrangement looks pretty smart, but from a customer point of view, the product has not changed and the prices have gone up.  I get the impression that the changes have mainly been for the benefit of the staff, they have more room, the customers have less. Take things away from regular customers at your peril.  While it is still the best coffee in the area, this ain't the West End.  Breaking the psychological £3 barrier is very discouraging.

Richard said...

 But you don't even get charged £3 in the west end.  The only place I have ever paid £3 for a coffee is a hotel.  Monmouth isn't £3, flat white isn't £3, Tap isn't £3... why on earth are Browns so arrogant?

Anonymous said...

I think Brockley has just found its new twin town:

http://www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk/news/10213482.Playground__too_brightly_coloured__to_be_opened/

Monkeyboy said...

Can the price of coffee be described as arrogant? It could be "too expensive" or more specifically "more than I'm willing to pay" but arrogant?

Monkeyboy said...

...whereas this COULD be seen as a little.... Millitant.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/12/coffee-bar-owner-row-pushchairs

Jayarruu said...

"Could" ...don't rule it out, on a 3 quid cup, it's not the regular mums driving income...it's the commuters from 8 - 10. Prams don't quite have that profitable flavour, and it's clear these guys seek the highest return with the least amount of work.

Monkeyboy said...

Don't know what the issue is, immediately next door is a very nice cafe that offers a good alternative. Neither are there as charities, they are there to earn a living.

Rob said...

I've got to say I'm not enamoured with the refit either. I loved the old space but as another commenter said, the lightness of the shop has now gone. Also the big wall opposite the window seems so bare. I'm surprised they haven't put something on it. The whole thing just seems so utilitarian. 

I don't have such a problem with the prices. They are operating at a higher level than your average cafe, and striving for perfection isn't cheap. Yes it's more expensive than next door, but IMO the product is superior too. 

The staff are as lovely as ever. Maybe in the summer it will look more appealing inside. 

That said, for me it's still the best cafe in the area by far. 

Ian Convery said...

For just two quid you can get a flat white at Bambuni in Nunhead that is every bit as good as
Browns. I also had a good coffee at Arlo and Moes yesterday, had a takeaway because the place was completely wedged up with buggies. Anyone know what's happening to the Jam circus building. It would make an excellent buggy freindly cafe.

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