AN "absolute gem" coffee shop which was founded during lockdown after its owners noticed a gap in the market has been named the best café in all of Essex.

Market West, in West Street, Rochford, was founded during lockdown by husband and wife team Andy and Kristy Barker.

Both were previously commuting from Rochford to London each day, before they started to work from home and found themselves without the speciality coffee they loved and drank while working in the city.

Echo: Couple - Kristy and Andy BarkerCouple - Kristy and Andy Barker (Image: Kristy Barker)

They noticed there was a gap in the market, so opened up their very own coffee shop in September 2021.

Now, they have won the coveted "best café in Essex" crown as part of the hotly contested 2024 Muddy Stilettos Regional Awards.

Kristy said: “It has not really sunk in yet. Simply being shortlisted was such an achievement, we never thought we would actually go on to win it.

“But we have worked so hard over the last two and a half years and built such a great community, we cannot thank them enough.

“The Muddy Stiletto awards have also put so many amazing businesses on the map over the years, and we are absolutely thrilled to be part of that line-up.”

'As good as Covent Garden's best'

The coffee shop, with a five-star rating on Google, has been hailed a "absolute gem" and "as good as the top-rated café in Covent Garden" by customers, already becoming a staple in the Rochford community.

One Google reviewer said: "I would rate this as good as the top rated café in Covent Garden. If you like good coffee then this is the place. I love Matcha Latte and they made the best I’ve tasted so far.

"They’ve kept up with the times and they have created somewhere I would want to visit on a regular basis."

The independent business doesn't just serve delicious coffee, teas and sweet treats, the owners also host special events such as their sell-out wine tasting evenings, candle painting and yoga.

Another reviewer added: "Cutest little coffee shop hidden away! The barista that served us clearly puts love into his drinks. Very smooth and delicious coffee."

All regional winners in Essex, along with winners from the other counties across the UK, automatically go through to the 2024 national awards.

Five businesses in each category will be picked by the Muddy Stilettos editors to go through to the national finals, with the "best of the best" winners crowned in July.