Hattie Lloyd 01/02/23
The daily grind.
It’s far easier to get through with a little of the daily grind.
Specifically, the kind you’ll find rustled up at these coffee shops, where their love of the brew borders on the fanatical. London’s coffee houses have come a long way, and we’ve gathered our favourites: from cosy neighbourhood cafés to third-wave coffee shops with scientifically-optimised espressos; colourful latte spots to Antipodean emulators…
These are the best coffee shops in London.
Monmouth Coffee | Covent Garden, Borough, Bermondsey
You could say Monmouth is where it all began – the tastings rooms, ethically-sourced beans, speciality blends, the caffeine addictions… Founded in 1978, it’s often cited as the source for London’s modern-day coffee craze and has branches in Covent Garden (the original spot), Borough (the biggest) and Bermondsey (where they roast). If you want a partner for your brew, the shops also sell pastries and sweet treats from Little Bread Pedlar, Sally Clarke & Babelle.
Good for: A cup of London coffee history.
Addresses: Covent Garden 27 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9EU; | Borough 2 Park Street, London SE1 9AB; | Bermondsey Spa Terminus Unit 4 Discovery Estate, London SE16 4RA
Fair Shot | Covent Garden
Everyone deserves a fair shot: that’s the heartwarming ethos of this social enterprise. Currently 95% of adults in the UK with learning disabilities are unemployed, and it’s Fair Shot’s objective to empower more of these people with the skills to work in hospitality. It’s an amazingly successful programme; currently every one of their graduates has gone on to find employment. And now they’ve opened a central London coffee shop that’s not only staffed by their trainees, but where 100% of sales go back into funding the programme. It’s basically as wholesome a business you could hope to support – and yes, their coffee also happens to be amazing.
Good for: A cuppa that gives back.
Address: 3 Slingsby Place, London WC2E 9AB
Prufrock | Clerkenwell
“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” laments a gloomy Prufrock in T. S. Eliot’s eponymous poem. But at this Leather Lane coffee joint and training school, that’s left up to the impressively nerdy precision of the team, who ‘dial in’ (i.e., tinker with various parameters) when brewing their Square Mile grounds, and log the results in spreadsheet – all as part of their eternal quest to crack the ultimate brew. Which, frankly, is all you’d expect from a place run by a former World Barista Champion and Head Judge…
Good for: Scientifically perfected coffee
Address: 23-25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE
Flat White | Soho
A coffee shop called Flat White? And with smashed avocado on sourdough on the brunch menu? Yeah, we know where these guys are from… this Antipodean cafe – that’s been going strong on Warwick Street since 2005 – is often widely credited for bringing the low foam, smaller than a latte, milky espresso drink (aka the flat white) to London and is thus an indisputable master of milk frothing. They also do a banging banana bread and gluten-free brownies, another tell-tale sign that this is an Aussie/Kiwi team up…
Good for: A flat white, obviously.
Address: 17 Berwick Street, W1F 0PT
Ozone | Old Street & Ozone Bethnal Green
Laid out over two floors – café on the ground floor, in-house roastery downstairs – Ozone has a raw, industrial look you won’t find at Costa: exposed brickwork; brushed metal; hand-painted signs; high ceilings; weathered tables and leather booth seating.
Upstairs they serve their generously-portioned brunch dishes alongside hot drinks, cold brews and espresso tonics, while the basement’s for roasting, creating their own blends, and even the occasional “cupping” (the technical term for “coffee tasting”, apparently).
Good for: When you’re after a real power boost.
Address: 11 Leonard Street, EC2A 4AQ | 8 Pritchard’s Road, (entrance on Emma Street), Bethnal Green, E2 9AP
Coal Rooms | Peckham
A great spot at any time of day, set in the old, Grade II listed ticket office and toilets of Peckham Rye station. It’s a collaboration between local bean-toasters Old Spike Roastery and the head chef of Smokehouse – so there’s worse coffee shops in London to head for a cup of joe and a coffee-cured bacon sandwich.
Good for: A coffee for the commute
Address: 11a Station Way, SE15 4RX
The Wren | Blackfriars
Jess Williams Photography
Let’s talk coincidences. 1) Christopher Wren designed the rebuild of the St. Nicholas Cole Abbey after the Great Fire of London, at the same time that the first coffee shops in London were beginning to spring up. 2) That abbey is now home to a coffee shop. It’s a series of strange interconnections which have ultimately led to you scoring a Caravan-roasted espresso, a creme egg brownie, and a dinky table beneath a lofty, rococo ceiling and the dappled light from modernist stained glass windows.
Good for: Ridiculously fancy surroundings.
Address: 114 Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 4BJ
Grind | Shoreditch and Beyond
Despite proliferating like wildfire across London, each Grind establishment retains an independent feel. The coffee, meanwhile, is consistently excellent. That’s because they roast their house blend daily in Shoreditch, train their baristas for months on end, and own a record label. Which is scientifically proven to have a measurable effect on taste.
Good for: Espressos that turn into the martini variety come evening.
Address: Various sites – check here for details
46b Espresso Hut | Homerton
While local to about 3% of London, 46b is worth the pilgrimage for everyone else – since their coffee’s roasted by Square Mile, their brownies baked by E5 Bakehouse, and their croissants by Yeast Bakery. Everything else (the cosy, shabby chic interiors, chipper service and delicious Greek-inspired snacks) – they handle pretty well themselves.
Good for: Unusual accompaniments to your cup of joe
Address: 46b Brooksby’s Walk, E9 6DA
Monocle | Marylebone
A coffee shop as seen through the lens of Monocle magazine, with Allpress-roasted coffee; Japanese breakfasts and Scandinavian lunches; whisky highballs; matcha hot chocolate; and something called banana juice.
Good for: A zen bubble in central London
Address: 18 Chiltern Street, W1U 7QA
Café Below | Bank
St. Mary-le-Bow is a beautiful church in the middle of the City. And below Le-Bow is one of the best coffee shops in London, an atmospheric, family-run café tucked away in the crypt, with Climpson’s coffee, hot breakfasts, seasonal lunches, secret supperclubs, and an in-house shoeshiner.
Good for: An independent City spot
Address: Beneath St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, EC2V 6AU
Caravan King’s Cross | King’s Cross
The Caravans of London (a load of laid-back NZ-inspired cafes pitched up around the city) are the kind of caravans that you’ll actually want to spend the whole day in, especially when faced with one their classic brunch dishes (the fried jalapeño cornbread is their big box-office hit) and quality coffee that they roast onsite themselves, using beans sourced sustainably from all corners of the word. They also host coffee school every Saturday at their North London roastery where you’ll get a tour of the place and learn all the terms and tricks (and then probably go home, straight to the internet, to buy a new espresso machine…).
Read more about: Caravan City, Caravan Bankside, VARDO
Good for: When you require an office that also does one of the best brunches in London.
Details: Locations all over London | Roastery, Lambworks, North Road, N7 9DP
Association Coffee | Liverpool Street, St. Paul’s
A spacious spot near the Gherkin with exposed brick walls; long, well-lit communal tables for working and a list of suppliers (including Square Mile Coffee, Ginger Pig, and Little Bread Pedlar) that’s all killer, no filler. Except for Newton & Pott, who literally supply their sandwich filler.
Good for: Coffee that takes no shortcuts
Address: 10-12 Creechurch Lane, EC3A 5AY
Saint Espresso | Eight locations across London
Since arriving on the scene just over ten years ago, Saint Espresso have been a godsend for people around North and East London looking to appease their coffee habits. Their sleekly-designed coffee shops are all equipped with the latest gadgets and gizmos where chatty baristas pump out perfectly poured long blacks, macchiatos and the rest using beans that they roast themselves in their Hackney HQ. The homemade cakes (from lemon and carrot to polenta) are a slice of heaven too…
Good for: The classic coffee and cake one-two
Details: Locations across London | Roastery East Campus, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 13 East Bay Lane, E20 3BS
Electric Coffee Co | Ealing, Goldhawk Road
Electric coffee will give you quite the morning power boost… Their beans are direct-trade and processed in their West Sussex roastery and they mix the serious stuff (cold drip Kenyan coffee with notes of grapefruit) with flawless foam art in matcha and beetroot lattes. The branches also back up their brews with solid working food (homemade sandwiches and pastries) and light, laptop-friendly spaces.
Good for: Specialty coffee in West London
Details: Ealing 40 Haven Green, W5 2NX | Goldhawk 75 Goldhawk Road, W12 8EG
Over Under | Earl’s Court, West Brompton
A dinky, laid-back, minimalist haven with rotating art exhibitions that serves top-notch coffee, breakfast, and (at Earl’s Court) this cornflake-infused oatmilk chai latte.
Good for: Flawlessly executed specialist coffees
Address: 181a Earls Court Road, SW5 9RD
Catalyst Cafe | Holborn
Carving out a niche for itself in an area spoilt for good coffee shops, Catalyst ticks all the usual specialist coffee boxes – beans roasted and ground in London, sourced directly and ethically from sustainable farms, and expertly matched to the mode of coffee-making – be it French press or moka coffee pot. But beyond that, it serves up some hella delicious food, with strong weekday brunch game and Greek-inflected dishes for lunch and Friday night dinners. It also plays host to guest chef takeovers with some of the hottest names in the city…
Good for: A sit-down breakfast
Address: 48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT
Allpress | Dalston
One of New Zealand’s most feted coffee brands, Allpress has been around as long as Starbucks – and where the latter plumped for speed, Allpress went for quality; so if your espresso wasn’t brewed within the magic window of 23-28 seconds, you can bet that’s not the one they’ll be serving to you. Swing by their pared-back Dalston roastery and café when you want to sip on a direct trade roast made with some serious TLC.
Good for: Plenty of workspace, and al fresco seating
Address: 55 Dalston Lane, E8 2NG
Climpson and Sons | Hackney
A charming spot off Broadway Market combining an original, old-school shop front with breezy modern interiors. As bean suppliers to many of the best coffee shops in London, these guys know what they’re doing. At weekends flocks of market-trawlers head here for their fix, so try to head over on a weekday when it’s quieter – or in the evening for nitro espresso martinis on tap.
Good for: Sipping a morning brew with a paper
Address: 67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Vagabond | Highbury
The stuff they serve here is not your average joe.
Founded by a former TAP barista, Vagabond naturally roast their own beans, which they then use alongside their own prodigious talents to brew in predominantly espresso-based drinks. Another great spot to work in, the space itself is kitted out with wooden tables and al fresco seating in their back yard – and it plays host to a killer full English breakfast.
Good for: Focussed working
Address: 105 Holloway Road, N7 8LT
Attendant | Fitzrovia, Clerkenwell & Shoreditch
People tend to take the piss out of places that used to be public toilets.
But not only have Attendant already done that, they’ve actually worked around the old Victorian urinals and turned them into one of the best coffee shops in London, with quirky counter seating, where you can knock back one of their own-roasted, smooth seasonal espressos or single-origin pour-overs, and a hefty sandwich (prepared in the former toilet attendant’s office, if it makes you feel any better). It’s so good, you’ll spend more than just a penny.
Good for: Unusual surroundings
Address: 27a Foley Street, W1W 6DY | 75 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TJ | 74 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3JL
Birdhouse | Battersea
Birdhouse sports stylishly minimalist interiors dotted with quirky, bird-themed paraphernalia.
It’s classic scandi’n’avian design.
But it’s a mere accessory to the stuff they’re serving inside, namely sweet, smooth roasted Climpson & Sons coffee, chunky home-made bakes and toasted Cuban bocadillos. It’s a place to bring your book, and maybe write one too.
Good for: Proving southwest London’s got the goods, too.
Address: 123 St. John’s Hill, SW11 1SZ
Apple Butter Café | Covent Garden
Fluffy triple stacked pancakes with oreo cream and nutella, breakfast quesadillas loaded with fried egg, sweet potatoes, beans and salsa.. bear with us, you can actually get some work done at this cute Seven Dials café. That’s best accomplished under the apple tree (they have one of those here) and with one of the specialty lattes by your side; crème brûlée, red velvet, black sesame, matcha or the flavour of the month that they make with Allpress beans.
Good for: Adding a little colour, and a lot of sugar, to your day
Details: 32-34 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9HA
Kanella & Co. | East Dulwich
Hanging out towards the middle of Lordship Lane – in the fancy patch near the cheesemonger and the fishmonger and the farm shop – is Kanella & Co., a slick, family-run coffee shop serving (yes – we said it) the best oat milk latte in East Dulwich. You’ll also find a daily-changing, freshly-made spread of Greek treats (spinach and feta swirls and the like) which you can either eat in or take-away. Plus they run regular Greek-inspired supper-clubs which sell out in seconds so be quick.
Good for: Feeling like one of the family
Address: 6 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London, SE22 8HF
Kaffeine | Fitzrovia
This laidback Aussie-owned cafe has two locations, both in Fitzrovia (and apparently counts David Beckham as a regular). It mostly excels in espresso-based Square Mile brews alongside guests that pop in from around the globe, plus fruit-flavoured filters from the likes of Ethiopia. Be warned though: too much Kaffeine comes with a few long-term side effects… you’ll become a bonafide coffee snob and you might end up enjoying vegemite.
Good for: Potentially seeing David Beckham
Address: 66 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7QJ | 15 Eastcastle Street, W1T 3AY
Antipode | Hammersmith
Antipode is another coffee shop from Down Under, which guarantees – besides being greeted with a g’day – a cracking cup of Joe (they use Square Mile Red Brick beans here, in everything from ultra-smooth flat whites to tumeric lattes made with almond milk) and a ridiculous toasted sandwich (like a loaded kimchi grilled cheese with mature cheddar). Come 5pm on weekends there’s a seamless transition from espresso to espresso martinis, and natural wine…
Good for: A hit of Melbourne coffee culture
Address: 28 Fulham Palace Rd, London W6 9PH
Hjem | Kensington
You can call this Danish café in Kensington home because A) they do top-notch coffee from Climpson & Sons and Kiss the Hippo that you should order with almond milk as they make that themselves, B) there are Nordic sandwiches made on freshly-baked rye and ‘Hjemmade’ pastries like vegan maple syrup-glazed cardamom buns, and C) that’s what Hjem means in Danish.
Good for: Scandi vibes and a ‘hidden’ patio out the back.
Address: 3 Launceston Pl, Kensington,W8 5RL
Carbon Kopi | Hammersmith, Fulham
There’s two of these independent NZ-inspired coffee shops in London – one in Fulham and the other in Hammersmith – and both are carbon copies, not just in name, but in that they crank out inspired speciality single-origin brews combined with unhomogenised milk from The Estate Dairy (because the milk matters too!), all using a Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Maverick. That’s a state-of-the-art espresso machine, fyi…
Good for: Besides the coffee? Sourdough toasties
Address: Hammersmith 11 Margravine Rd, W6 8LS | Fulham 1 Hazlebury Rd, London SW6 2NA
Stir Coffee | Brixton
Stir coffee. It’s good advice for brewing a cup and also a good place for getting one professionally made. The house roast here is Mission Coffee Works, but they also switch it up every now and then with acclaimed small-trade artisanal guests, and if you’re after a brew of the different sort, then they also serve a range of craft beers…
Good for: A place where your dog is made to feel just as welcome as you.
Details: 111 Brixton Hill, SW2 1AA
Lumberjack Coffee | Camberwell
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the baristas here don’t wear flannels shirts and carry axes, but they make a mean brew, courtesy of Assembly down the road in Brixton, as well as sling a variety of artisanal meats and cheeses from their deli (including Neal’s Yard produce), sweet and savoury goodies from the kitchen, and locally-made bits and pieces in the shop. Come for a latte. Leave with candles, tea towels, a bottle of organic prosecco and gluten free Italian amaretti…
Good for: Coffee, but also getting all your Christmas shopping done in one go.
Details: 70 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8QZ
Nude Espresso | Shoreditch
Nude Espresso has the perfect blend of being a big-enough venue to camp out with a laptop (and not feel guilty for hogging a seat) while simultaneously being small enough to feel cosy. As you might have cottoned on via the name, espresso is their strong point (plus some of the best iced coffees in London). They get their beans from small farms in South and Central America and roast ’em in-house with some serious machinery (a Loring Smart Roaster, which they say is also the most advanced and eco-friendly roaster out there). They also collab with cycling teams around the capital, so you can be sure that their stuff will keep you going through the day.
Good for: Iced coffee and choc chip cookies fresh out of the oven.
Details: 25 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
Caffeine fiend? Check out the best afternoon teas in London
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