Spending time at Anke's Tea and Coffee Lounge makes me wish I had a café like that just down the road.

The characterful cafe in London Road, Westcliff, is brimming with Anke’s artwork, plants, books and eclectic furniture.

Anke's is ranked one of the best coffee shops in Westcliff and scores a 4.5 on Tripadvisor.

Echo: Westcliff cafe - Anke'sWestcliff cafe - Anke's (Image: Newsquest staff)

Sitting in the cafe I can hear Anke working her magic chatting to customers asking about their family and remembering people’s usuals.

There is plenty of choice on the menu such as breakfast dishes like French toast, sausage breakfast, shakshuka (spiced tomato with gently poached eggs) and porridge. The lunch dishes include beef stew that day, chicken salad, chicken and avocado wrap and roasted veg wrap and more.

There are also regular live free events like Anke’s The Hoy Folk Club night which happens the first Saturday of the month at 6pm until 9pm.

Echo: Customers first - Anke had a dream to open a cafeCustomers first - Anke had a dream to open a cafe (Image: Newsquest staff)

Anke started the business in 2013 after leaving her job in the police force in London.

“I had a dream when I was about 19 when I thought I wanted to run my own café. I thought it might be a pipedream but then I reached a point in my life where I had skills and experience to do it,” said Anke, who was born in East Germany and has lived in the UK for 23 years.

“I have a very loyal customer base which I’m so grateful for. To me those connections are more important than anything, yes, I have a business, but people come first.”

Taste test

For some warmth on a chilly day, I went for the shakshuka dish.

It was served on a wooden board, with a dish full of the tomato sauce with poached eggs and a side of bread.

The tomato sauce was rich and glossy and there was a nice fire to it when the chilli kicked in. The poached eggs were perfectly poached in the sauce and had a pleasing runny yolk.

Echo: Nice and spicy - shakshuka dishNice and spicy - shakshuka dish (Image: Newsquest staff)

I ate the whole bowl, and even forgot about the bread, it was so tasty.

I would eat shakshuka for breakfast lunch and dinner if I could, which is fortunate, because Anke serves it throughout the day at the café.