At the heart of Soho’s microcosm of the refined and the decadent, of the old and new worlds of sex shops and production suites, of day-traders and advertising execs, there is an ever-present constant holding it all together: the café. Here follows a list of the finest Soho coffee shops, whether you’re taking a break from your weekly latex shop, or braving the bustle for the first time…
Algerian Coffee Stores
Defying all kinds of economic and physical logic, Algerian Coffee Stores hasn’t changed all that much since its opening 135 years ago in 1887. The interior is lined with original wooden shelving and the counter and the display case are the same. Most importantly, there’s a mind-boggling choice of over 80 coffees and 120 teas from around the world to pick between. That choice, coupled with the extensive knowledge of sisters Daniela and Marisa, makes Algerian Coffee Stores one of the best places to grab a coffee in Soho – whether you’re about to drink it, or you’re just taking home a bag of magic beans for later.
Details: 52 Old Compton St, London W1D 4PB | For more information, visit their website here
When Flat White opened in 2005, it flew the flag for the laid-back flair and high-quality artisan coffee associated with Antipodean café culture. Almost 20 years later, London is replete with the kind of sunny café ambience Flat White established way back when. But guess what, it’s still one of the best places to grab a cup of joe in Soho.
Their coffee beans are from Drop Coffee Roasters, an award-enshrined Swedish outfit often described as the best in the business by those who know their coffee (us).
Details: 17 Berwick St, London W1F 0PT | For more information, visit their website here
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is hell-bent on delivering one very important policy: exquisite coffee. The café also offers coffee-making classes to the public, because if you have a skill, why not share it around? Located in the cosy alleyways off Carnaby Street, this coffee shop is an excellent place to escape Soho in Soho.
Details: 3 Lowndes Ct, Carnaby, London W1F 7HD | For more information, visit their website here
Bar Italia is a place steeped in history, and is one of the most culturally significant coffee shops in London. It also does a fantastic panini at 3am when Little Italy sends you careening out onto the pavements next door.
Opened in 1949 by the Polledri family, Bar Italia is still a family-run affair. The Soho coffee shop has inspired rock songs, stage musicals and numerous paintings by internationally renowned artists, prints of which hang in the café’s time-capsule interior.
In order to keep up with its reputation, the coffee needs to be good – and it is. There are also deliciously authentic pasta dishes on the menu, and a couple of crisp wines if you’ve reached the limits of caffeine intake.
Details: 22 Frith St, London W1D 4RF
To say Tintico know their coffee is an understatement, but we’ll say it anyway. Their coffee connoisseurship ensures they only serve the finest single-origin coffee going. Tintico prides themselves on investment in the crop-to-cup process – something self-evident in the flavour of the beans. They also serve one of the most brilliantly dramatic toasties, complete with ham hock, tomato & chipotle chutney, mature cheddar, mustard and chives.
Details: 57 Greek St, London W1D 3DX | For more information, visit their website here
Söderberg is an authentically Swedish café-cum-bakery, with an impressive menu for any time of the day serving brilliant coffee & cardamom buns, cakes, waffles, and Swedish-style open sandwiches. In the evening you can indulge in platters, yet more smörrebröd, savoury waffles and a Scandi twist on classic cocktails. Naturally, the cinnamon buns are every bit as delicious as you’d expect, and it would honestly just be a bit rude not to order one with your cuppa.
Details: 36 Berwick St, London W1F 8RR | For more information, visit their website here
Rapha London Clubhouse
It’s hard to stay sane in London without two things: caffeine and bikes, and Rapha London Clubhouse has joined the two in perfect harmony in their famous central London bike shop. The fact that Rapha’s more renowned for its cycling apparel than its coffee is a testament to the gear, because the coffee is pretty great too. This is a fantastic place to meet fellow cycle-obsessives, coo over the newest merchandise or just savour the smooth taste of a post-cycle coffee in Soho before heading back home.
Details: 85 Brewer Street, London W1F 9ZN | For more information, visit their website here
Find a place to unwind from the grind in this suitably named coffee shop, bursting with the kitsch luminescence of old-school Soho. Whether it’s a mid-day coffee break, or an after-work, pre-jazz cocktail, Soho Grind has you covered. As expected from the London cult favourite, the coffee is great, and the basement-level cocktail bar gives the gaff a classy kind of mystique. They also serve fresh juices and smoothies, but rumour has it you have to be wearing yoga pants to order the Kale and Spinach.
Details: 19 Beak St, Carnaby, London W1F 9RP | For more information, visit their website here
Triple Two Coffee
One of the nicer Soho coffee shops to just sit in, Triple Two Coffee has the air of a forest cabin thanks to its wood-panelled décor. This is a brilliant little café with excellent coffee, and a cosy interior suitable for a bit of quiet book reading on a rainy day.
The coffee is of the highest calibre once again, boasting a house blend combining light and medium roasted coffee beans from four continents. And the toasties are not to be missed either, for maximum stuffing.
Details: 193 Wardour St, London W1F 8ZF | For more information, visit their website here
Something stronger? Check out The Nudge’s favourite Soho bars.