The Canvas Cafe was founded in 2014, by actress and puppeteer Ruth Rogers. She had an idea to create a space for the community that could be a blank canvas for positivity and creativity.

At The Canvas Cafe, we galvanise Londoners to connect, and to create positive change.

We are:

A vegan café, serving delicious, lovingly prepared food to our customers and to those in need in the borough;

A community, which has room for everyone, and that supports grassroots projects to grow and create positive change in the city;

A mindset, that people matter, that business can be done differently, and that no one is too small to have an impact. 

Ultimately, we are proud of our home in Tower Hamlets and we are proud of what we stand for: hope for the future.


Our Story...

When we opened in 2014, we were a team of just five.

In our Cafe, we made a commitment to serve local produce and/or support social enterprise food and drink suppliers, and so put Square Mile Coffee, the Dusty Knuckle and Lemonaid on the menu.

We wanted to host inspiring events, and offered our venue to Inner Space to start monthly free Tuesday night talks about well-being and improving mental health.

We wanted to create a space tackling loneliness and isolation, and so invited customers to share their thoughts, ideas, secrets and stories on the walls; our ever-evolving piece of live art that makes us a true blank canvas to everyone who walks through our door.

In 2015, we became London's first Happy Cafe, making a commitment to Action for Happiness' 10 keys to happier living and partnered with Juliette Burton to create Happy Hour, a safe space comedy night in our Creative Venue.

In 2016, we opened up the room next to our garden and gifted it to the Museum of Happiness for a year-long residency, to launch their first permanent space and provide pay-it-forward events about the art and science of happiness.

We also started providing space for the launch of inspiring supper club concepts, such as Fat Macy's that trains men and women in sheltered accommodation, and Mike's Table, tackling food waste by offering paid-forward dining experience to those in need.

In 2017, we launched our Community Hub, creating a free events space specifically for Londoners with great ideas that will improve the lives of others. The idea is simple: do you want to launch an idea that will be free to attend for our community? We gift you our space in return for a donation to our Pay-it-forward board which provides food and drinks to homeless people in Tower Hamlets, and a commitment from you that you'll use our cafe for all your own food and drinks. It's a business model based on generosity, and it's our social heart.

In 2018, our Cafe became 100% vegan, because it's the most cruelty-free option for ourselves, animals, and the planet. It's a form of positive social action, which is what we are all about. 

Towards the end of last year, thanks to the generosity of our community and partnerships with local businesses, we launched our Hot Meals for the Homeless campaign, providing much-needed hot meals for the homeless members of the Crisis Skylight Centre. So far, we've provided over 400 meals and have many more to come.

Now, in 2019, we're a team of fourteen passionate people, running a multi-faceted Community and Creative venue that hosts between 50-60 events every month. We're a thriving vegan Cafe serving home-made, locally sourced and seasonal breakfasts, lunches and treats, and - crucially - we are a vision for the future, where hope and humanity are prioritised over profits.

What started as one woman's idea has now evolved to become a living, breathing embodiment of all the best parts of humanity: generosity, positivity, kindness, hope and love. This is thanks to the people who have joined The Canvas along its journey, adding their voices, ideas and energy, nurturing the space so that it's constantly growing and evolving to be something greater.

At The Canvas Cafe, we believe that humans are amazing; you just need to give them space to be so.

The Canvas Cafe is that space. A blank canvas for innovation, creativity and positive social change.