My eco job: Running a vegan cafe in one of London's trendiest boroughs

A selection of vegan bagels at Wave Cafe in Hackney
A selection of vegan bagels at Wave Cafe in Hackney Copyright Euronews/Helene Jeunet
By Helene Jeunet
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Sophie and Cait started out making cupcakes for a small market stall, now their cafe is more of a community centre


Running a cafe called Wave certainly sounds like it should be a serene job. But in fact Wave stands for We Are Vegan Everything. And as with everything vegan, it’s in very high demand.

Co-founders Sophie Beale and Caitlyn Badham-Thornhill teamed up seven years ago to make cupcakes together under the name Cupcakes and Shhht. By January 2019, that had that morphed into opening Hackney’s Wave cafe.

The eatery doubles as a community space, hosting workshops, clubs and yoga classes throughout the week. Such a busy roster makes plenty of space a necessity, and by London standards, the Wave’s location has that in abundance. Situated at the end of a spacious alleyway, turn a corner and find yourself transported into an urban oasis with hanging chairs, creeping vines and exposed concrete.

“I spent the last decade in hospitality, I've always loved the industry and being around people, the feeling of community that centres around food,” says Sophie.

Euronews/Helene Jeunet
Wave co-founder Sophie (L) with general manager RomaEuronews/Helene Jeunet

“I've always loved food and baking and me and my best friend Cait decided that we wanted to make that our lives.”

Initially, the two went into business selling their vegan-friendly cupcakes from a food stall in Camden Market. To start with, they were happy with a place where people could “sit and enjoy the food, where it was our little community that they were joining, even if just for breakfast”.

Sophie and Cait’s dream evolved and the stall grew into the pair’s first cafe - which they ran from a shipping container in Elephant & Castle. But after a while, they once again decided they needed more room.

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“We wanted a space where more people could come together to eat nourishing vegan food and find a little sanctuary to escape from the fast-paced London lifestyle,” she says.

With a moving wall of glass creating an adjustable indoor/outdoor space, enough room for a large picnic blanket inside and out, as well as plenty of tables on the terrace, no one could accuse them of having too little space now.

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The owners consider their goal to create “a relaxing environment that cares about sustainability as much as we care about fresh flavoursome meals”.

So they chose biodegradable packaging for Wave’s takeaway food and drink offer. While it recycles as much of the packaging its ingredients come in as possible and makes an effort to use environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Euronews/Helene Jeunet

“We are overwhelmed by the positive feedback we have had from the local community,” she tells Euronews Living. “I think more and more people care about eating sustainability and therefore love that they have found a place where they can eat in, relax in and take part in regular morning yoga classes as well as attending evening events and workshops that we host in the cafe.

“Our ethos is centred around providing delicious vegan food, that is both accessible and exciting,” adds Sophie.

“We want like-minded people to be able to come together and share moments.”

Euronews/Helene Jeunet
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