LONDON | Where is the best coffee in London? Some say that you can’t get a good cup of coffee in London but that’s a lie. I was in London recently thanks to Cathay Pacific and met up with my London team. Between us we roamed the capital and caffeinated ourselves up in the name of research. Right here we’re going to tell you bust some misconceptions and tell you where you can find the best coffee in London, giving a range of top venues across the capital. Is you favourite coffee spot on the list? Let us know where you like to go for your London coffee in the comments section below.
Monmouth Coffee started roasting coffee at their original Covent Garden site since 1978, and continued to roast here until 2007, when they upgraded to a roastery in Bermondsey. They sell beans (whole and ground), single cone filter coffee and espresso based drinks. When we first got an espresso machine for home use, Monmouth’s was where we’d go to get our beans and we still get beans from there, amongst other places, today.
Since it was founded by Anita LeRoy, Monmouth has maintained a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. On offer are mostly single-estate and co-operative coffees, and Monmouth is continually working to help growers improve quality and earn higher prices. The Covent Garden shop is much smaller than the Borough Market shop, and its primary focus is coffee. There is however some seating at the back and a small selection of tasty baked goods and pastries should you feel the need for a quick bite.
27 Monmouth Street
London WC2H 9EU
Allpress Espresso was established in New Zealand in 1986, when owner and founder Michael Allpress decided to give up his career as a chef and instead focus on introducing espresso (which was relatively unfamiliar in New Zealand back then) to the people of Auckland. Fast forward to 2016 and the original coffee cart has expanded to cafes and roasteries in Auckland, Dunedin, Sydney, Melbourne, London and Tokyo.
Allpress Espresso in Shoredtich is the site of Allpress’ original London roastery (roasting is now done in a larger location in Dalston). It’s all about sourcing the best beans from around the world and ensuring that growers are paid a fair amount for their beans, with ethical processes and business practices being conducted at all levels of production. What this means for consumers is coffee that tastes great and can be drunk in good conscience, with a nice range of single origins and blends brewed using a range of methods (not just espresso!) available.
The food offering is simple with a selection of tasty sandwiches, breakfasts and canteen dishes for lunch. Freshly roasted blends and single origin coffee beans can also be purchased to use at home.
58 Redchurch Street
London E2 7DP
Taylor St. Baristas
Taylor St. Baristas has an origin story that’s common amongst many of the best coffee shops in London, and that’s the story of some Australians or Kiwis (in this case 3 Aussie siblings Nick, Andrew & Laura Tolley) who found themselves in London struggling to find good coffee. That was winter in 2006 and since then, Taylor St has expanded to 9 London locations and, in January of this year, a Manhattan location too.
The name of the brand gives you an idea of what Taylor St thinks is the most important part of the coffee making process – the barista. On that note, they pride themselves on their barista training programme, and even run a home barista course for £85.00 per person.
Beans are ethically sourced and include the house blend, Rogue Espresso, as well as a selection of single origin and guest coffees from around the world. Food comes in the form of freshly baked cakes, sandwiches, salads and soups.
We’re partial to the Mayfair store, as there’s not much in the way of good coffee down this part of town, and that’s the address we’ve included below. For a full list of locations, check out the Taylor St website.
Taylor St. Baristas
22 Brooks Mews
London W1K 4DY
Curators Coffee Gallery
Curators Coffee Gallery was opened by… you guessed it… a group of Antipodeans with a devotion to great tasting coffee. They serve serve specialty coffees, teas and freshly prepared food from their in-house kitchen and a range of leading local suppliers. The latest brewing equipment and retail coffee beans are also available to take home. “Exhibition”, the house blend, is roasted by the fantastic Nude Espresso as Curators is not a roaster.
What’s really interesting about Curators is that they use coffee not just for soley coffee drinks but for a range of different concoctions combined with other ingredients. Think mushroom, chilli, lime and cascara just to name a few. Try a tasting selection to really get a feel for how different beans, roasting and brewing techniques can effect the final brew.
There’s a particular attention to detail in the design of the store too. Using a mix of recycled, new and artisan materials, Curators is a relaxing space with clean lines and high ceilings that showcases a range of coffee equipment that you can buy or even try at the brew bar. Innovative art works from local artists are also displayed and available to purchase.
There’s also Curators Coffee Studio (the original store) in the City near Leadenhall Market.
Curators Coffee Gallery
51 Margaret Street
London W1W 8SG
Kaffeine is, you won’t be surprised to hear, and Australian-style cafe that focuses on excellent coffee, great food and hospitable service. Coffee comes from highly regarded UK roasting company Square Mile and there’s always a guest roaster from the UK, Europe or the Americas featured every weekend, with beans available to buy for home.
Espresso based drinks are the main focus here, and the shop uses a Synesso Cyncra espresso machine, which is one of the best machines on the market. There are also loose leaf teas by the Rare Tea Company and a small selection of English juices and Italian soft drinks, with a weekly changing food menu that is made on site each day by professional chefs, focusing on seasonal, fresh, market driven produce, along with a small selection of baked treats. Kaffeine has actually built a bit of a reputation for its food over the years in fact – their sandwiches and salads are very popular with the weekday office crowd.
Milk is organic, and every barista has at least 3 years experience. For a good cup of coffee, Kaffeine will always do you right.
There’s also a second location still in Fitzrovia, at 15 Eastcastle.
66 Great Titchfield Street
London W1W 7QJ
Beagle is one of our favourite restaurants in London, and in 2014 they revamped their takeaway cafe spot so that it was more in line with the ethos of the restaurant. What does this mean for you? Well this little spot under the arches of Hoxton station now serves up some of the best coffee in this part of town.
Coffee beans come from Workshop Coffee, who also provide training to Beagle’s baristas. Fruit juices are from from Solstice, cold drinks from Luscombe, and teas from Rare Teas. Whether its filter or espresso based coffee you want, Beagle has you covered. Food wise it’s a small selection of baked goods on offer which are cooked in the restaurant’s kitchen next door. You can also buy a small selection of beans and coffee equipment to take home.
Great coffee and a fantastic location underneath Hoxton station means Beagle is well worth checking out. Grab on of the few seats outside and watch the commuters go about their business while you sit back and relax or, if you’re a commuter and this is your stop, lucky you!
397-400 Geffrye Street
London E2 8HZ
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
Department Of Coffee And Social Affairs have expanded quite a lot since they first opened in Leather Lane back in 2010. The focus here, other than on great coffee is on people and each location is purposely allowed to have its own identity and atmosphere. One thing that’s consistent across all of the location is the quality of the coffee. Beans for filter and espresso come from a sourcing chain that extends from the farm and workers, to picking and packaging, screening and grading, brokerage, shipping, roasting and coffee making. At all steps of this process, Department Of Coffee And Social Affairs is involved. The end result is fantastic coffee for you, which you can enjoy in store along with some simple breakfast and lunch options and baked goods, or to take home in bean form.
There are 8 locations throughout London – we’ve included the Lowndes Court location due to its convenient location for visitors just off Carnaby Street.
Department Of Coffee And Social Affairs
London W1F 7HD
Brooklyn Coffee is a single roaster cafe that has partnered with the excellent Caravan for its coffees and along with coffee, sells a range of interesting products with a focus on design and single sourcing. It sells one beer from Brew By Numbers, one magazine (Drift) on brand of teas (Rare Tea Company) and one brand of chocolate bars (Compartes).
They also support local artists and designers – all of Brooklyn Coffee’s branded products collaborations with local artists and graphic designers.
This is all well and good you’re thinking, but what about the coffee? Well Brooklyn’s partnership with Caravan pretty much guarantees that they’re going to get good quality coffee but it actually goes beyond this. Every now and then they partner with Caravan to get in coffee beans that aren’t available anywhere else in the UK, roasted especially for them. In 2015 it was a bean from Barner Ramirez at Finca Buenos Aires in Colombia. So yes, the coffee here is good, and the other stuff really does go a long way towards making Brooklyn Coffee a must visit coffee spot in London.
139 Commercial Street
London E1 6BJ
Flat White is arguably the granddaddy of great coffee spots in London. In 2005, before most of the other places on this list existed, Flat White was providing the people of London with that great Australian/New Zealand coffee experience which included, of course, the flat white coffee. The place was a pioneer in kicking off the independent, high quality coffee culture that’s developing in London today and the coffee is still fantastic today.
Beans come from Swedish roasters Drop Coffee Roasters, who have an ethical approach to their sourcing, with single origin roasts that are on the lighter side of the scale. All shots are double as standard, and a selection of beans are always available, whole or ground. The all day breakfast and lunch food menu is small and simple, with a bit of an Aussie and Kiwi twist to it. If you want smashed avocado on toast or some ANZAC biscuits, Flat White has you covered. Ingredients are local and seasonal, with a mixture of in house items and brought in items from local artisinal producers Tin Shed & The Little Bread Peddlar.
Also worth checking out is Flat White’s sister cafe, Milkbar which is also in Soho.
17 Berwick Street
London W1F 0PT
Prufrock Coffee is another great coffee shop that those who stroll down Leather Lane will find themselves in the presence of. Prufrock has 2000sq feet over two floors of an old Victorian book shop where they offer coffee tastings, training and events. The cafe itself offers a range of delicious seasonal sweet & savoury baked goods made in-house using local ingredients. If you see it on the menu when you visit, try the delicious cauliflower and Isle of Mull Cheddar tart.
Coffee is roasted in house by experts in their trade and sourced from some of the best growers around the world. Whether it’s espresso or filter, blend or single origin, the coffee here is consistently excellent.
If you really want to know more about coffee, beyond what you can learn by chatting to the friendly staff, then check out one or more of their coffee courses. There are 9 SCAE approved courses on offer ranging from intermediate to advanced, and the team will even develop a bespoke course for you if what you want isn’t covered by one of the standard courses. As you’d expect, there’s an impressive range of coffee equipment and beans that you can purchase too.
23-25 Leather Lane
London EC1N 7TE
Alchemy Coffee is a small, artisan coffee shop just off Fleet Street which unfortunately didn’t exist when I worked around the corner in 2010-11. Thankfully for those working in and visiting the area today, it’s open and thriving because the coffee here is excellent. Alchemy roast their own beans in their Wimbledon roastery, and have been doing so for a while now. This store is all about coming in, learning a bit about the coffees on offer, and going about your business. No tables and only a few stools mean it’s the not the kind of place to linger. Owner Joe O’Hara’s philosophy is that each customer should be given the opportunity to know a bit about the beans on offer as every coffee they sell has a story.
The full range of espresso and filter brews are available here, along with beans and coffee making equipment to take home. Food wise a small range of baked goods and pastries are available.
8 Ludgate Broadway
London EC4V 6DU
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Ozone Coffee Roasters are a Kiwi owned purveyor of coffee with a really interesting story. Founders Jamie and Karen Hodson set up a boutique roastery in New Zealand’s New Plymouth after working alongside an organisation committed to helping street kids and young people affected by the civil war in El Salvador, and meeting many people who were making a living on coffee plantations. Fast forward to today, and Ozone is going strong in New Zealand and London, with a continued commitment to making a difference with what they do.
The Shoreditch store opened in 2012 and the cafe is located in the basement below the roastery. As you’d expect, the quality of the beans is excellent and there’s a story behind the people involved in every bean offered. You can have your coffee any way you want, and buy beans and coffee equipment too.
Ozone has quite the reputation for its quality food too. It’s a full cafe with a proper menu that’s open through to the evening. The sustainable, local produce driven menu contains items such as Banana & almond milk chia pudding w nectarine & popped wild rice, and Heritage grain risotto with Kent cider, smoky celeriac, walnut, pickled apple & shoots. It’s tasty, inventive stuff that’s much more than an afterthought. A few very nice wines, craft beers and cocktails are also available. If you do want to eat in just be aware that Ozone can get very busy during peak times. Thankfully though you can make reservations.
Ozone Coffee Roasters
11 Leonard Street
London EC2A 4AQ
The Gentlemen Baristas
The Gentlemen Baristas is a place we actually haven’t been too but we have it on very good authority that our list wouldn’t be complete without its inclusion. It’s just around the corner from Borough High Street and sell a range of espresso-based and hand-brewed coffees, with the various blends on offer named after hats (there used to be a hat shop across the road). For something a bit different, try a coffee made using their Bulleit Bourbon barrel aged coffee beans.
If you want to learn more about coffee, The Gentlemen Baristas also offer 3 different coffee classes.
Old fashioned, friendly service with a thoroughly modern approach to quality coffee. The best of both worlds.
The Gentlemen Baristas
63 Union Street
London SE1 1SG
The CoffeeWorks Project
The CoffeeWorks Project is an independent, family run Speciality Coffee House with the simple aim of showcasing the best Coffee, Tea and Food in London in a friendly, and relaxed environment. Espresso is made using a completely manual, custom built Slayer espresso machine while filter drinks are made using either Hario V60, Kalita Wave and Aeropress.
Food is more than an afterthought and features a range of tasty dishes made on-site each day using fresh, local, seasonal produce and local, artisinal ingredients. Neal’s Yard Cheeses, Ham & Cheese Co Charcuterie and milk from Northiam Dairy, a small farm in Kent are just some of the examples of the care and attention to detail that goes into the food and coffee here.
There are 3 locations, but the original Angel spot is our favourite as it’s less than a minute’s walk away from our favourite chocolate shop, Paul A Young.
The CoffeeWorks Project
96-98 High Street
London N1 8EG
The Attendant is located in was once a Victorian era gentleman’s toilet. For 50 years the space lay dormant until it was resurrected and repurposed as a cafe by owners Bosh McKeown and Ryan De Oliveira in 2013.
Food wise there’s a focused menu of very good wholesome, produce-driven seasonal breakfast and lunch items but the primary reason to come here is for the coffee. For espresso they pull their very own house roasted seasonal blend from a La Marzocco Linea GB5 as well as single origin filters from around the world via V60 Drip or Aeropress. The Attendant uses organic unhomogenised Estate Dairy milk and The Rare Tea Co. loose leaf teas. On a warm day, the Joe Black cold brew is fantastic too and you can buy beans and coffee equipment if you fancy making some quality coffee at home.
27A Foley Street
London W1W 6DY
Workshop Coffee is an Australian style cafe (it originally had links to Melbourne’s St Ali) that opened in 2011 with the aim of bringing the cafe culture of Australia to London. The gamble paid off and today owners James Dickson and the former director of Intelligentsia’s L.A. operations Tim Williams have a roastery and 3 cafes across London.
Coffee is the main reason that you come here and on that front Workshop doesn’t disappoint. Coffee is ethically sourced from small single-estate farmers and a wide variety of single origins and blends are available, brewed by every method imaginable. Staff are very knowledgeable and will happily explain the characteristic of each bean and brewing method to ensure you enjoy exactly the right coffee for you. As you’d expect from a place like this, you can also grab some beans to take home with you, along with coffee making equipment.
On top of coffee, Workshop also serves tasty artisan, seasonal British breakfast and lunch dishes, wine and beer. The apple bircher muesli with labneh is fantastic, as are the baked organic eggs with chorizo and feta.
27 Clerkenwell Road
London EC1M 5RN
Nude Espresso take their coffee very seriously, which is evident from their micro-roastery and coffee school across the road from the cafe. When you walk in the small, bright space and look at the coffee board, you’re greeted with an array of coffee options. There’s the house “East Blend”, available 8 ways, a single origin espresso bean and a further 4 single origins on pour over. The beans are roasted across the road and sourced ethically from small batch growers around the world while the small food menu contains a few breakfast and lunch options, sandwiches and and baked goods in the pastry counter.
For those wanting to brew their own coffee at home, you can buy whole beans or coffee ground just the way you want along with a range of assorted coffee equipment. Also of note if you’re looking for something a bit more, or a unique gift for a coffee loving friend or family member check out Nude Espresso’s coffee making classes.
8 Bell Lane
London E1 7LA
The Old Shoreditch Station
The Old Shoreditch Station is part of the Jaguarshoes Collective which is known for “art, music and parties”. Located in, you guessed it, the old Shoreditch railway station, it’s a cafe, bar and exhibition venue with a focus on coffee during the day and whisky, wine and beer at night.
Freshly ground fair trade coffee comes from local roasters Allpress Coffee Roasters while tea comes from boutique tea purveyors Tea Pigs. Food is brought in from local producers and contains a range of sandwiches and salads, pastries, cakes and charcuterie plates. Beer and drinks are local and organic where possible, and the whisky selection is impressive, containing several hard-to-find drops.
The Old Shoreditch Station
1 Kingsland Road
London E2 8DA
St Clements Parsons Green is a rustic cafe located in SW6 which focuses on seasonal British produce and great coffee. The cafe itself has a quaint homely atmosphere which makes it perfect for brunch with friends or a quiet location to do some work. St Clements’ ethos is simple food make exceptionally well. As such this is not the location to expect crazy flavour combinations with all the bells and whistles. Rather this is where you go if you want classic flavour combinations prepared and served properly.
The coffee comes from East London’s Ozone Coffee Roasters and is brewed to perfection each time.
201 New Kings Road
London SW6 4SR
Caravan Exmouth Market is the original branch of the expanding Caravan cafe brand (there’s another in Kings Cross) and is another of those “Australian” style cafes which focuses on great coffee, breakfasts and a range of appealing all-day options – unsurprisingly, it has antipodean founders. The space is small, light and airy and during peak times, busy.
Coffee is roasted in house and contains a range of single origin espresso and filter single origins and blends Caravan sources green beans directly from the growers it fosters relationships with so you can be assured that each cup of coffee you drink is ethical and sustainable. Coffee beans can be bought to take home and ground to order. Try the house espresso blend “The Daily” which contains notes of chocolate, nougat and clementine. The fresh juices and smoothies are fantastic too.
11-13 Exmouth Market
London EC1R 4QD
…and because I couldn’t have helped my team visit all of the cafes and coffee shops on my list, drunk far too much coffee and narrowed down the list without Cathay Pacific kindly flying me over, I’ve agreed to include this little snippet of useful information for anyone who might not be based in the UK and is thinking of visiting London.
Cathay Pacific has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities, offering a choice of flying in economy, premium economy or business class. Cathay has at four flights daily from Sydney, three flights daily from Melbourne, 11 flights a week from Brisbane, four flights weekly from both Cairns and Adelaide, and ten flights weekly from Perth.) From its Hong Kong hub, the airline offers five daily flights to London. From 2 September 2016, Cathay Pacific will launch a four-times-weekly service to Gatwick (LGW) operated with A350 aircraft, bringing it to a total of 39 flights a week between Hong Kong and London – more than any other carrier. In addition to serving London, Cathay Pacific also offers a four-times-weekly service between Hong Kong and Manchester in the United Kingdom.