Scootercaffe started life as an old Vespa repair shop with an espresso machine in the corner.
These days it’s an espresso bar, with a Vespa in the corner.
Since moving the mechanics side of their business to a garage in Bermondsey, this little patch of Italy has drummed up a roaring trade as a café, propping up Waterloo’s Lower Marsh for the past twenty years. Owner Craig has spent decades travelling back and forth between London and Italy, bringing all kinds of souvenirs, antiques and bric-a-brac back with him. The result is an eclectic lounge filled with retro furniture, old peeling movie posters on the walls, and – the pièce de résistance – a vintage 1957 espresso machine.
This machine is put to work from 8.30am till 11pm, crushing beans that they roast in-house. During the day, you can stop by for freshly baked bread, cakes and a cuppa to enjoy while ensconced in an old armchair (you might have to move the cat), or climb through the window at the back to find their dinky courtyard. But for the last ten years or so, Scootercaffe has kept its doors open in the evenings for more grown up drinks, too.
Propped up by a gaggle of regulars, there’s an atmosphere here that new, polished bars try to replicate (but rarely do). Maybe it’s the espresso martinis made with that 60 year-old machine, or the glasses of wine poured freehand, right up to the rim. Maybe it’s the live music that happens on occasional Sunday nights, or the intimate setting of the brick-walled cellar downstairs. Or maybe it’s just down to the particular mix of people – locals, regulars, and the curious who were just passing by – that make it feel simultaneously raucous and seductively under the radar.
NOTE: Scootercaffe is open daily, 8.30am-late (from 10am weekends). There are no reservations – just turn up.
Scootercaffe | 132 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE
Like bars stuffed full of bric-a-brac? Visit the fancy version: The American Bar at The Stafford