Bare Brew - Love, sweat and tears! Meet the couple behind Wanstead’s loveliest café!

Bare Brew – Wanstead’s award-winning café - is a real family affair.

When Lisa Hampson-Isteed quit her job as a sound engineer in reality TV shows to set up a business with her fitness instructor wife Gemma, their families were right behind them.

Lisa’s dad (an engineer) made the tables out of old scaffolding planks, Gemma’s mum made the cushions out of coffee sacks, and the whole family mucked in and helped with the painting.

The business recently won Time Out’s Best Coffee Spot Award and was runner up for the Brunch Spot. The food is delicious – with Lisa cooking up a storm in the kitchen (check out her homemade Chilli Jam and veggie stack with halloumi, avocado and sourdough) or, if you want something less healthy, their French Toast is delicious.

The couple met in a bar eight years ago – Lisa was working for Big Brother, while Gemma was working as a graphic designer.

Gemma, 38, said: “We had always spoken about running a coffee shop -then, while we were on holiday in Sri Lanka we got talking and decided to take the plunge. “

The couple found an old laundrette and set to work transforming it into a café, investing all their savings. Bare Brew opened just over two years ago and is doing a roaring trade. It’s the latest business to join the Local Buyers Club – offering 10% off to members daytime Monday to Friday (info here).

Gemma added: “We looked at lots of different areas and decided on Wanstead because it was near my family and we knew and loved the area. Really quickly we found a property and put our stamp on it. I wanted to do something around healthy food and Lisa is really into music, so she does all the playlists for the café.

“It’s going really well. Wanstead is a really great community - we have our regulars who come every day and lots of people come here to work. Weekends are really busy!

“I thought I could still do personal training and run a coffee shop, but it has pretty much taken over our lives – there are no more lovely long holidays in Sri Lanka! We have no regrets though. This is probably the best thing we’ve ever done.”

They employ talented baristas and serve seasonal blends and single origin beans from Square Mile Coffee Roasters. The food is fresh and there’s a strong emphasis on sourcing from local companies.

Bare Brew is popular with those working out at the gym up the road – many of whom pop in for a protein smoothie. They’ve recently started to offer the space in the evenings for private events such as birthdays, as well as their own taco and tequila tasting evenings.


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