UPDATED JUL 14, 2020
It’s no surprise that our city's coffee scene is top-notch. Luckily, we've scoured the scene to bring you the definitive guide to all the cafés that are setting the bar high in the Capital.
This New Zealand-born café concept is for the real coffee enthusiasts. Ozone roasts their beans on site and is known for excellent quality. And if you find yourself having one too many, you can opt for the decaffeinated coffee options so you can get the taste without the kick (whatever it takes to get their delicious brew). This vibe is more relaxed and laid-back, so for you freelancers, it’s the perfect spot for if you need to plug in and work.
When it comes to breakfast, these guys will certainly start your day off right. This well-known trendy coffee hangout in Soho is crammed full of tortured artists, musicians, and media moguls. You might also find yourself admiring the ever-changing curated art displays from local talent. Milkbar is always busy, but it’s a great place to just soak up the bustling city atmosphere surrounded by like creatives.
The two Fitzrovia branches of Aussie and Kiwi-style Kaffeine can be a tad small and busy for comfort at times, but this is compensated by the friendly staff who are admirably passionate about their craft. Efficient service means you are never waiting for long. Plus, the food—like savoury toasts and smoked salmon on croissants—is the perfect sidekick to your cup, and they even have their own branded merchandise.
Probably the most London-esque name ever has instant appeal to the straight-talking city dweller. And there's a lot to love; they're approaching 20 branches of this coffee shop across London, including Carnaby Street, Spitalfields, and Canary Wharf. They don’t just serve quality brews but they show you how to, too — every so often they run their own Coffee School, teaching subjects such as the science of espresso and latte art… in case you’re in the market for a new party trick.
It all started on Soho’s Lexington Street, and there are now four 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 — it's just always served in a vessel that couldn’t be described as anything but “stumpy”.
Caravan oozes great taste and the utter coolness of an atmosphere created by people with a heartfelt passion. It’s a solid choice any day of the week and a place where you just want to hang out for hours to work, chill, sip on silky coffees, or enjoy a good book. 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. Though, if you feel like a coffee just won’t cut it, then go for the fresh juices, wellness shots, nut mylks, and smoothies (served until 4pm).
As with most Australian coffee shops, the Lantana cafés at Fitzrovia, London Bridge, and Shoreditch are laid-back and unpretentious. That means you can always guarantee a quality cup brewed by a staff that genuinely cares that you enjoy it. The beans are Guatemalan, Brazilian, and Ethiopian, the flat whites are always good, and the food light and sunny.
With humble beginnings in Shoreditch, there are now 10 Grind sites in London (with more on the way). But you don’t just stretch 10 coffee shops for having mediocre coffee; the backbone is excellent coffee and good tunes — plus a selection of good grub. And here’s a fun fact: the house blend is still roasted daily in Shoreditch.
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. Honestly, it’s hard to be disappointed. All the sites are good fun, but maybe make a special stop at the Bermondsey site on Saturdays (open from 9am), where the coffee is roasted and the aroma is heavenly.
Esters might be a little difficult to find, tucked away a residential part of the coffee capital of Stoke Newington, but this hidden gem is worth the walk. A tiny little shop, it couples relaxed service with an ever-expanding roast selection, it’s the sort of place where the staff are chomping at the bit to let you try the newest offer. The space was just refurbished in June of 2018, too — a little facelift to cement its mark on the Stokey coffee scene.
Established in 1942, H.R. Higgins Duke Street feels a little bit closer in time to the 19th century than anything you’d find on the high street in modern day. Their retro copper counter is the home to an extensive variety of roasts, and their baristas pride themselves on being able to recommend you a cup of joe based on your own specific tastes. Plus, they refurbished their basement venue in 2017 and it’s looking cooler than ever before.
Flat White is the epitome of what you’d call a hipster coffee shop. Located in a bustling Soho, it’s the sort of place you actually sort of hope no one actually finds out about in case it ruins the vibe you can find here. This is a place for anyone who needs somewhere to pull up a chair, drink some incredible coffee, and get lost at work on their laptop. Plus, their cortados really are some of the best London has to offer.
Workshop insists it’s “dedicated to sourcing, roasting, and brewing the best coffee possible”. And if you’ve ever had a cup at any of their cafés, you know that their dedication has paid off. Each of their coffee bars is slightly different, but you can expect at least two types of espresso and curated roasts from every corner of the world. If you want a true experience, cosy up with a piping hot cup in their wide-open, modern-industrial lounge within White Collar Factory.
No one does hygge in London quite like Nordic Bakery in Golden Square Soho. The Scandinavian café and bakery is a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the Capital, and its minimalistic décor and straightforward menu make this gathering place a stress-free hangout. There’s a wide range of baked goods, including their famed cinnamon buns, and open-faced sandwiches (aka smørrebrød) made on traditional dark rye bread. No matter what snack or sweet you choose, it’ll make for an ultra-pleasant complement to their ground-to-order coffees and espresso drinks.
Allow the pros in this shop on Leather Lane to lead you in a coffee masterclass. Prufrock serves Square Mile Coffee, plus a rotating selection of guest roasters, and the rich, nutty aroma permeates every inch of the spacious café. This spot is ideal for those with discerning tastes and a high appreciation for the coffee craft. Though, if you’re keen to learn more about the art, Prufrock hosts a whole range of classes and certifications, including an Introduction To Coffee course for novice drinkers.
Get the latest news on London’s fitness scene.