There’s a lot of coffee in London, but don’t settle for anything but the best. Here’s where to get the most from your caffeine high.
Algerian Coffee Stores
This scarlet-fronted shop has been a Soho institution since 1877 and still features some original interior features, but more important is the small counter to the side selling brilliant espresso shots. There are no seats and no frills but plenty of atmospheric history, the chance to buy tea, coffee and sweet things to take home, and some of the cheapest (good) coffee in central.
52 Old Compton Street, W1D 4PB; algcoffee.co.uk
You’ll find Allpress coffee in cafés across the city – including many on this list – but it’s worth making the journey to their Redchurch Street hub where everything is roasted and blended on site.
58 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP; allpressespresso.com
This Soho stalwart is open 24 hours a day and most London longtimers will have stories of nights that ended up there. It is decorated with a giant poster of boxer Rocky Marciano looking like he’s about to throw a punch, and the espressos are just as punchy. Go here to pick up stories and people watch but never ask for a cappuccino at dinner time or the Italians will frown on you.
22 Frith Street, W1D 4RF; baritaliasoho.co.uk
It’s perhaps better known for its cocktails from Tony Conigliaro, but the coffee here comes from veritable guru and head of quality for Illy, Marco Arrigo. A good opportunity to mix and match espressos and Negronis. There are branches in Soho and Marylebone.
Various locations; bar-termini.com
The Caravan restaurants, bars and cafés across town not only offer top notch coffee, but they’re up there with the capital’s best brunch spots too. If you feel like a coffee just won’t cut it, then go straight for an Espresso Martini at the bar.
Various locations, caravanrestaurants.co.uk
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
There are now around a dozen branches of this coffee shop, which doesn’t just serve great brews but shows you how to, too. It runs its own Coffee School teaching subjects such as the science of espresso and latte art.
Various locations, departmentofcoffee.com
Choose between plenty of exclusive, locally-roasted blends at this hip coffee shop with branches in both Clerkenwell and Shoreditch – a friendly atmosphere and good music makes both locations great places to pass the time.
Various locations, fix-coffee.co.uk
Fernandez & Wells
It all started on Soho’s Lexington Street and there are now five branches across the city from Marylebone to South Kensington. A speciality is The Stumpy, which was born here and is like a mini Flat White. Pair one with a grilled chorizo sourdough sandwich.
Various locations; fernandezandwells.com
One of London’s best antipodean imports for the coffee alone – and partly responsible for popularising its namesake coffee on our shore. Hard benches, rather dark inside, careful but slow service, but consistently high quality coffee made using a Square Mile blend.
17 Berwick Street, W1F 0PT; flatwhitecafe.com
A sunny Kensal Rise hotspot for mums, dads and toddlers, the former for coffee, cake and bulky salt beef sandwiches, the latter for babycinos and a menu of activities including toddler yoga. You heard it.
118 College Road, NW10 5HD; gracelandscafe.com
It started in Shoreditch and there are now 10 Grind sites across town. What ties them all together is excellent coffee and good tunes – plus good food to boot. The house blend is roasted daily in Shoreditch.
Various locations; shoreditchgrind.com
The two Fitzrovia branches of Aussie-style Kaffeine risk being too small and busy for comfort at times, but the staff are admirably geeky about their craft and efficient service means you are never queuing for long. The food is excellent, too.
Various locations, kaffeine.co.uk
As with most Australian coffee shops, the Lantana cafés at Fitzrovia, London Bridge, Camden and Shoreditch are laid back and unpretentious. The beans are Guatemalan, Brazilian and Ethiopian, the flat whites are always good, and the food light and sunny.
Various locations; lantanacafe.co.uk
Lion Coffee + Records
Why do just one thing well when you can do it all? This Clapton café is a coffee shop, record store and live music venue rolled into one. The music and the excellent Allpress espressos are equally good reasons to visit.
118 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0QR; facebook
Long White Cloud
Monmouth coffee, art to buy all over the walls, hearty organic muesli and fat pies. Sometimes turns into a hot dancing spot in the evenings.
151 Hackney Road, E2 8JL; longwhitecloudhoxton.com
Look Mum No Hands
This pair of cycle cafés in Clerkenwell serves superb cups of Square Mile coffee with welcome speediness, and is great for some remote working.
Various locations; lookmumnohands.com
Love & Scandal
Sandwiches and pastries play supporting roles to top-of-its-game coffee at this Waterloo spot run by a caffeine-obsessed Australian. The name comes from a Henry Fielding quote: “Love and Scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.”
107 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AB
The Covent Garden original and subsequent sites in Borough Market and Bermondsey tend to be constantly jammed with tourists and coffee obsessives who come for the superb range of espresso-based or single cone filter coffees. All the sites are good fun but the Bermondsey site where the coffee is roasted comes with added aromas.
Various locations, monmouthcoffee.co.uk
The original Hanbury Street branch is a hectic hub of coffee activity, but its other sites around the area are slightly calmer. It’s a favourite among the coffee fanatic set, and given the quality you can see why. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – the baristas really know their beans.
Various locations, nudeespresso.com
Ozone Coffee Roasters
This New Zealand-run London roastery and café in Shoreditch is a vast space with never-ending breakfast options and noble aeropress coffee. A good spot to set up with your laptop, but still with coffee worth savouring.
11 Leonard Street, EC2A 4AQ; ozonecoffee.co.uk
Coffee with a conscience. This Peckham shop and roastery provides jobs, training and support for homeless people as well as a very good brew. You can buy the coffee beans to take home and make too.
54 Peckham Rye, SE15 4JR; oldspikeroastery.com
Leather Lane’s Prufrock Café is a discerning coffee drinker’s playground. A comprehensive tasting chart will help you choose from numerous beans and blends, while the baristas on board are more than capable of telling you just about anything you may want to know about coffee.
23-25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE; prufrockcoffee.com
The best bars in London
Owned by a New Zealander who collects coffee machines, the story goes that this former scooter repair shop turned into a café due to demand from customers who said the brews were that good. It boasts a quirky atmosphere, board games and the occasional cat – plus it’s just a stone’s throw from Waterloo station.
132 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AE
Sharps Coffee Bar by DunneFrankowski
It might sound like an odd combination but you can pitch up here to get your beard and moustache trimmed over a milky coffee made by two of London’s coffee heavyweights. Classy little place, with endless spangly coffee apparatus to gawk at.
9 Windmill St, W1T 2JF; dunnefrankowski.com
St David Coffee House
A hectic little place with a book exchange, free wifi, Square Mile coffee served in mismatched vintage china cups, and fresh and reasonably priced salads.
5 David’s Road, SE23 3EP; twitter
The coffee at this three-strong group is strong and so is its fan base. You’ll find it on Tottenham Court Road and Wardour Street, but best of the bunch is the original rustic Fitzrovia hideaway where coffee lovers flock to hang out and talk about their favourite drink.
Various locations, tapcoffee.co.uk
Taylor St Baristas
The Taylor Street crew have nine bustling joints which dish up excellent coffee and great grub to significant numbers of Londoners daily. They’ve even opened in New York now – but that’s a bit of a trek.
Various locations; taylor-st.com
The Waiting Room
Owned by the tattoo parlour proprietors two doors down on Deptford High Street, this quirky caff does veggie food, really good hot and iced coffee andalso has a shelf filled with books you can take away with you – as long as you bring another one to replace it the next time you visit.
142 Deptford High Street, SE8 3PQ
Wilton Way Café
A creative hub in the heart of Hackney, freelancers, hipsters and anyone who enjoys a good brew accumulate here for coffee from Climpson & Sons, cheeses from Neal’s Yard and chorizo from Brindisa. You get the impeccably sourced picture.
63 Wilton Way, E8 1BS; facebook
Workshop Coffee Co
A venture that started out in Clerkenwell and has branched out to Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Holborn. Our favourite is the teeny Wigmore Street branch which offers aeropress coffee and staff with impressive coffee knowledge who prepare it with more love and care than you can imagine. Glasses of fizzy water with every coffee.
Various locations, workshopcoffee.com
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