Newly opened café Coffee & Fripes offers its customers the chance to enjoy a slice of French lifestyle, all while on The Roman.
Summer holidays and trips abroad feel like an unattainable prospect for many at the moment. So, in lieu of heading off to the sunshine, how does enjoying a slice of holiday life without even needing to leave The Roman sound?
Newly opened coffee shop Coffee & Fripes, on Roman Road Market, offers its customers the chance of savouring French patisseries, cakes, and sandwiches, all washed down with a carefully curated selection of coffee.
And, while devouring a raspberry tartlette or two, there’s the option of enjoying a spot of market-esque shopping at Coffee & Fripes’ in-house second-hand-clothing shop: its racks are full of interesting and colourful finds, including a 90s denim dress, a moor-coloured rough tweed jacket, and a wacky patterned chunky 80s fleece.
So, why has this unusual blend of vintage clothing and coffee come to Roman Road Market?
It’s all down to Äissatou Diallo, the cafe’s 34-year-old French owner.
While sitting on a large, and lovingly tattered Chesterfield, Diallo explained that, while vintage clothing is her ‘passion’, her skills and expertise lie in her almost decades-long work in the coffee industry. And so, Coffee & Fripes (fripes is the French word for second-hand clothes) was born.
Diallo’s decision in choosing Bow to open her first business venture was deliberate. She said that she moved to the area in April 2014, initially living on Old Ford Road. After a couple of years, Diallo found herself in a flat above Globe Town’s post office. Now, she’s just a moment’s walk from Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
‘I love the area. I feel like I belong here. And I like the fact it is a mix of locals and learning about the East End, I find that fascinating,’ she said.
Diallo added that the area’s strong sense of community is also a huge attraction: ‘You’d imagine in a city of nine million, people wouldn’t care that much. But here, it is a little community, a tiny village, and people are genuinely happy you are here.’
She opened Coffee & Fripes on 15 January to little fanfare but, Diallo said, she has had residents, shoppers, and fellow business owners popping in to say hello. She counts long-standing Roman Road favourites Randolfi’s and The Albert as some of her new neighbours. She said she reckons ‘80% of the customers’ are passers-by heading to the market and shops.
Diallo said that, as a female business owner, she is keen to promote women-run businesses. She has sought her coffee from friend, and business associate, Anette Moldvaer’s Square Mile, a coffee roasting company based in Walthamstow.
Diallo added she was eager to bring a little bit of France to Roman Road and is working with London-based French pastry maker, Siham Zerbane, having connected with her on the London French Facebook group, Le Cercle des Français à Londres. In addition, Diallo serves her coffees with a small biscuit wrapped in the distinctive packaging of quintessential French brand, Bonne Maman.
So, if you want a taste of French living, then Coffee & Fripes is open on Thursday and Friday, 7.30am to 5pm, Saturday 8.30am to 5pm and Sunday 8.30am to 4pm.
If you enjoyed this article, then read our piece on The Eleanor Arms, an East End pub with a French feel.
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