Walking through the rapidly regenerating and increasingly trendy Croydon (it’s got a Boxpark and everything now), it’s not unusual to come across a hipster craft coffee shop. But there’s one trendy little coffee shop that’s concealing a big secret.
From the outside, Byte Café looks like many other cafés in the area, but walk through the cosy hygge-inspired space and you notice a set of big glass doors. Behind them is the secret of Croydon’s creative Tardis: a massive, 21,000 sq. ft co-working space.
The space is TMRW, Croydon’s only major co-working space, which owns the appropriately futuristically named Byte Café. I’m introduced to this deceptively massive hidden space not by a rakish and roving Time Lord, but by its community and programme director, Marcela Donatello.
She tells me not only is the café a warm, welcoming space for Croydonians: sitting in it was also the first step for a lot of TMRW’s members: “There have been quite a few members who have joined after coming in for a coffee or a sandwich. They come in and end up asking ‘What’s behind those big doors?’ And they find out there’s the co-working space, meeting rooms, event spaces and much more.”
Marcela adds: “The café has been a bit of a marketing tool and a way to set the tone for the rest of the space. The experience you get with the café team is very similar to the experience you get upstairs.
“It’s a great coffee shop, it has good music, it has a good vibe and a great team – always super-friendly.”
In fact, Byte Café has won awards. According to Marcela: “One was the Best Coffee Shop to Work from in Croydon and the second was Croydon’s People’s Choice Award for Best Coffee Shop in 2017.”