Debatable: Is Shake Shack Really Fast Food?!?
From the ashes of the much-loved Tuckshop, this daytime refuel spot is housed inside the Protein building, keeping a never-ending stream of creatives properly caffeinated. With daily changing food options (and some truly excellent salads), their coffee is made with all the TLC you’d expect from people who once had an avocado-ripening room.
Long before London got on board the coffee train, antipodean-run Flat White was not so quietly changing the way Soho drank their coffee. Strong, fresh, and served with a chipper smile every time, their speciality is in the name, with a ton of small cups of joy being served every day. Pro tip: try to grab a seat on their outside bench during a sunny day. The people watching is better than TV.
Farringdon (& other locations)
Walking the line between rustic and clean cut, this growing group of coffee pushers really focus on the beans -- you can really learn a thing or two about points of origin and roast techniques here. This spot has their espresso making down to a science: using exactly 20.4 grams of fresh grounds, they’ll have 30ml of delicious coffee in 30 seconds. The company is also pretty active with charity work, so be sure to check out their social contributions.
To say these guys mean serious business is an understatement. At a large cafe on Leather Ln, they've dedicated over 2,000sqft of space for generally paying homage to the coffee bean, including a full-blown barista school for those looking to turn their addiction into a career. Featuring coffee from local favourite Square Mile, they cover pretty much every type of java, so you can really dive deep into if you like pour over, filter, or espresso better.
In the no man’s land of Holborn, this bright and airy cafe is a bit of an oasis. Loaded with quirky furniture like old cinema chairs, geometric metal tables, and an abstract map of London on the wall, it’s a laptop magnate, with plenty of plugs and ridiculously good snacks. Keep your eyes out for the Apricot Pistachio Matcha Blondie -- it’ll change your world. They have good house beans to start with, but they make a conscious effort to have the widest selection of guest beans around, so you can always try something new.
Who knew that coffee and bicycles were such an obvious combination? Work your way through the wheels, helmets, and perfectly cut jerseys to some seriously geekily made coffee. Using Workshop Coffee beans, they properly refuel the bi-wheeled hipsters, freelancers, and true cycling addicts with coffee that is made with near-scientific precision.
Fitzrovia (& other locations)
These guys have quietly been building an empire of simplistic cafes that do damn good coffee with minimal faff. Originally called Tapped & Packed, they’re all bare white walls, exposed light bulbs, quirky spoons, natural wood, and are generally unmarked from the outside, except for the address. Their cafes are great communal hubs for hanging out with friends (and re-upping on your caffeine intake).
Soho (& Covent Garden)
For those who are constantly connected to their various electronic communication tools, this is going to totally be your jam. Armed with a million plugs, iPads everywhere, and conference rooms available to book out for when you really need to adult like a boss, it’s a coffee shop for productive people. They change their beans pretty regularly, but keep an up-to-date list available on their website to help you know what's brewing at which location.
Hiding inside the St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, this weekday cafe was meant to serve the ministries of The St. Nick’s Talks, but quickly gathered its own mass of pilgrims in search of excellent coffee. Only open from 7am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, the shop supports The Talks, but doesn’t push the issue, letting the gorgeous stained-glass windows and high ceilings to speak for themselves. Coffee is practically its own religion, after all, so the whole arrangement just makes sense.
Welcome to the office of the coolest kids in East London. Situated in the lobby of the achingly hip Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street, this place offers loads of co-working space, in which a sea of glowing Mac screens take regular residence. The coffee is solid and delicious -- although their tea can sometimes take a while for the proper brewing process to complete -- and you’re bound to be surrounded by the creative and hardworking best of the best.
If you’re looking for coffee around Brixton, head to the Market and grab a cup of joe from this jewel box shop. With pastries baked in-house and beans from North London’s Campbell & Syme, they do single-origin espresso, filter, and other high-quality options, served without overcomplicating the whole process. There are hardly any seats, but if you’re lucky, try to snag a spot in the window for some seriously awesome people watching.
Shoreditch (& other locations)
With new locations popping up like highly caffeinated wild flowers, these guys roll with coffee by day and cocktails by night (and the food’s not bad to boot). Plus they run a recording studio? These guys are so much cooler than we are, it's absurd.
Covent Garden (& other locations)
Monmouth were one of the original, cult-inspiring coffee shops in London, which comes as no surprise being they opened first in 1978. Having since moved their roasting to their Bermondsey site, they still incur queues down the block at all their locations, with their shop in Borough Market being their crown jewel. Seating is always pretty minimal, but for grab-and-go (especially when you want to buy some beans for home), it’s some of the best stuff in town.
Clerkenwell (& other locations)
What started as an offshoot of the Aussie-owned St. Ali has become Workshop, and it has been blazing its own trail for a couple years now. It serves java in virtually every form you can imagine, as well as beer and wine... plus the food is great, especially for vegetarians.
Hiding on an off-street around Silicon Roundabout, this Kiwi-owned joint is a roastery surrounded by a coffee shop. Light and airy with lots of wood and an open kitchen, it gets positively rammed with ‘Ditch locals and techies alike. Pro-tip: there's frequently seats down on the lower level among the bags of coffee beans.
Kings Cross (& Angel)
Coffee, brunch, dinner, cocktails -- these guys do it all. When their original space had queues out the door, they wised up and opened their Kings Cross location: big, airy, with plenty of space to eat, drink, work, and be social. There’s a semi-open kitchen, and a mini roastery in the back, so the air itself could probably give you the jitters.
The love child of coffee master Marco Arrigo and cocktail legend Tony Conigliaro, this Italian noir micro coffee bar is open from early to late, offering pretty much all the best things in life. Feeling like a ‘60s train terminal, it’s another world in there, and its coffee is some of the best in the city.
This micro-chain has a borderline cult going on when it comes to the strong stuff. It gets beyond geeky with techniques, equipment, and mindsets... but at the end of the day, it makes damn good coffee.
Dalston (& Shoreditch)
After expanding from its first, tiny espresso bar home on Redchurch to open a bigger space in Dalston, Allpress kept up its quest for amazing coffee. Completely built from scratch, this old joinery is now home for its roastery and split-level cafe where you can watch, smell, and taste the magic happen.
Soho (& Brick Lane)
Great coffee is, well... great, but great coffee with amazing food is something worth journeying for. A good mix of suits and artsy kids hang out at the Brick Ln spot, getting their fix with the excuse of delicious meals, while the tiny shop off Soho Square gets a solid lunch trade -- ideal for grabbing bites and sitting in the park when possible.
Everybody knows that when you find yourself at the top end of Broadway Market and need coffee, you head to the Climpson & Sons cafe. Or better yet, head to one of the many, fantastic events that it hosts at its roastery arch behind London Fields, where you’ll find pop-up restaurants, parties, and mini festivals to go with your cup o’ joe.