Kahaila Cafe: Coffee with a conscience – review

Kahaila Cafe, 135 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB.

“A coffee shop with a conscience” is the name of the game at Kahaila cafe, a delightful little find amongst the plethora of vintage clothing stores and trendy shops on Brick Lane.


Sandwiched between two other eateries, Kahaila is the pick of the bunch for lunch.


Admittedly, there are many cafes and eateries in the area, but none have a more distinct and unique selling point than Kahaila. Unlike the competition, they’re one of the only non-profit cafes in Tower Hamlets. It stands out, without looking out of place; inviting you in with an array of tasty delicacies in the window and the smell of fresh coffee spilling out onto the street.

Once inside, the array of baked goods that you have to choose from is almost overwhelming. And their selection of coffees is impressive too; including the standard choices such as espresso or cappuccino to more specialist brews like chai latte and matcha-latte.

The aroma of coffee tickles the nose, but it’s the delicious looking nibbles on the counter that really catches the eye. In comparison to the sweet treats, there is only a small selection of savoury bites available. The toasted spicy chicken and guacamole sandwich is the pick of the bunch and it doesn’t disappoint. The thick wholemeal bread is soft and crunchy in all the right places and despite being toasted, you can tell the bread is fresh. The smooth guacamole compliments the chicken, cooling the spicy qualities of the seasoning without taking away the punch of the chilli.


A spongy treat waving the flag of equality.


To satisfy the sweet tooth, the rainbow cake is the perfect accompaniment. The vibrant colours really make this slice of the rainbow stand out from the crowd and the substantial portion justifies the £3.70 price tag. With not a dry crumb on the plate, the sponge is light and fluffy. The smooth vanilla icing separates each colourful layer and generously coats the outside – they’re certainly not stingy.

With the hot spring sunshine, an iced mocha calls my name, particularly having already seen another order flash under my nose. After a long hot day, there is nothing more satisfying than an iced coffee. While it’s refreshing, the balance between the espresso and the chocolate isn’t quite right for me. Arguably there isn’t enough chocolate to compliment the bitterness of the coffee and while it’s creamy, some of the milk curdles slightly leaving a few small lumps floating at the top.


The rocket and tomato bring the flavours together.


Another minor quibble is the choice of savoury dishes because, as I’ve already alluded to, it’s somewhat limited. What’s already on the menu is tasty enough, but perhaps a few more sandwich options wouldn’t go amiss.

The overall ambience is pleasant and the charitable nature of the business is a welcome theme throughout the cafe. It’s surprisingly bigger than it looks from the outside, and the artwork on the walls brighten up the wooden interior. Not only is this a great space but the support of local charities makes it a much more appealing alternative to the corporate chains.

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