It’s not an addiction — good coffee is a necessity for many of us to get through a busy day. And no one knows busy days quite like a Londoner, so it’s no surprise that London’s coffee scene is fast becoming one of the biggest on Earth. You could say we’re just full of beans!
But when we say good coffee, we’re not talking about your standard skinny latte or a sub-par, high-street coffee marked up with a misspelled name. No, we’re hitting all the independent cafes making big noise in the Capital and serving up nothing but the best.
This spot in Shoreditch is for the real coffee enthusiasts. Ozone roasts their beans on site and is known for excellent quality. 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 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. There are now almost 20 branches of this coffee shop across London (thanks to the acquisition of TAP Coffee), 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 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, 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 for a lazy Sunday brunch 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 straight for an Espresso Martini at the bar.
As with most Australian coffee shops, the Lantana cafés at Fitzrovia, London Bridge, Camden, 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. 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, 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 (and they are currently offering extraordinary coffee from Stafford roaster Has Beans). It was just refurbished in June of 2018, a little facelift to cement its mark on the Stokey coffee scene.
This coffee bar might just be London’s best-kept secret! Tucked away behind London Bridge, it’s more of a stall than a coffee shop, and that’s fine by us when you’re serving coffee that good. Order any espresso drink and pair it with a delicious baked good from The Snapery.
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 2018. 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 just refurbished their basement venue last year and it’s looking cooler than ever before.
Alex MacIntyre’s great little café in Hoxton Street was one of East London’s most revered and adored by locals and tourists alike, and so, the hearts of coffee-lovers around the capital broke when it closed its doors for good. But never fear! After a brief stint in Old Street station as a coffee cocktail bar, it now has a permanent new home—as well as a new name—in Angel! Coffee, cocktails, and class, served day and night.
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.
**Updated by Jennifer McNeill, September 2018