Food & Drink

The Best Coffee Shops in London

Published On 08/11/2015 Published On 08/11/2015
Bulldog Edition in London
Andrew Meredith
Courtesy of Cream

CREAM

Shoreditch

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.

Flat White

Soho

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.

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

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.

Prufrock

Clerkenwell

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.

Freestate Coffee

FreeState Coffee

Holborn

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.  

Rapha Cycle Club

Soho

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.

TAP Coffee

Tap Coffee

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).

Timberyard

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.

The Wren

Blackfriars

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.

Andrew Meredith

Bulldog Edition

Shoreditch

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.

Federation

Brixton

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.

Grind

Grind

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.

Monmouth

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.

Workshop Coffee Co.

Workshop Coffee Co.

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.

Ozone Coffee Roasters

Shoreditch

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.

Jason Allen/Thrillist

Caravan

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.

Courtesy of Addie Chinn

Bar Termini

Soho

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.

Kaffeine

Kaffeine

Fitzrovia

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.

Allpress Espresso UK Coffee Roasters

Allpress

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.

Nude Espresso

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.

Climpson & Sons Coffee Roasters

Climpson & Sons

Broadway Market

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.

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1. CREAM 31 New Inn Yard, Shoreditch, EC2A 3EY

Located inside the Protein building, CREAM is a bright and modern spot to grab some high-quality coffee in East London. Their menu changes daily and features fresh options to keep you fueled any time of day: French toast with mascarpone and banana, a fig and hazelnut salad, and fresh juices (or a ginger shot) to wash it all down.

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2. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs 14-16 Leather Ln, London, EC1N 7SU

This group of meticulous coffee roasters is on the rise, and can teach you the ins and outs of the origins and roast techniques of their beans. It's all about numbers at this rustic-meets-sleek spot: they use exactly 20.4 grams of fresh grounds to serve you 30ml of delicious coffee in 30 seconds.

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3. Flat White 17 Berwick St, London, W1F 0PT

Antipodean-run Flat White serves up strong and fresh coffee crafted with TLC. You guessed it: their speciality is the flat white, and they do it well. The small smattering of tables tends to fill up fast, so plan on take-away -- or better yet, try to claim a spot on their outdoor bench for prime people-watching.

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4. Prufrock Coffee 23-25 Leather Ln, London, EC1N 7TE

Whether you're in the mood for a pour-over, a filter, or an espresso, Prufrock has you covered. They're not only serving up top-notch drinks featuring Square Mile coffee at their 2,000-square-foot space on Leather Ln., but they're also running a fully functioning barista school. You can sip and study your coffee here.

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5. FreeState Coffee 23 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5HA

Out on the western boundaries of London is FreeState Coffee, a quirky hub that's ideal for anybody with a laptop: plugs abound. When it comes to coffee, their wide range of beans lets you try a different type every time you make the trek out to Holborn. It'll really be worth your while when they have their Apricot Pistachio Matcha Blondie. Take it from us: you'll fall in love.

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6. Rapha Cycle Club 85 Brewer St, Soho, W1F 9ZN

You'll find both coffee and cycling addicts here -- once you shimmy past lots of wheels, helmets, and hipsters. Feel free to don your best jersey alongside some of the most passionate cycling fans around, all while you refuel with Cycle Club's meticulously crafted coffee made with Workshop Coffee Beans.

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7. TAP Coffee 26 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, W1T 1JD

Light-filled and cozily furnished with benches, this simplistic cafe turns into a communal hub for friendly hang-outs by day, as well as a stop-by destination for low-energy caffeine fiends in the area. Offering a dependable selection of sandwiches, salads, high-quality beans, plus baked goods, it's no wonder a seat's hard to come by come afternoon.

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8. Timberyard 4 Noel St, Soho, W1F 8GB (Shoreditch)

Though you've long avoided experiencing morning wood in public: the Timberyard's changing all that. This two-floor rustic-chic coffee shop on Old Street will prop up your java consumption with wall-to-wall vintage furnishings, including re-purposed trunks & suitcases serving as tables.

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9. The Wren 114 Queen Victoria St, London, EC4V 4BJ

Though originally meant to exclusively service the ministries of The St. Nick's Talks, this St. Nicholas Cole Abbey coffeeshop turned so renown that it accrued an outside heathen following. It's not so hidden to the public anymore, and offers delicious lattes and pour-overs in a majestic stained-glass-walled venue.

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10. Bulldog Edition 100 Shoreditch High St, Shoreditch, E1 6JQ

East London's hippest, laptop-equipped folk settle at this coffee shop on a regular basis for the excellent cups of pour-over served at outstandingly early morning hours. The venue is part of the achingly hip Ace Hotel, so windowed walls, a bright and airy working area, and a pleasant minimalist design is only to be expected.

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11. Monmouth Coffee 27 Monmouth St, London, WC2H 9EU (Covent Garden)

Monmouth might be a small-sized coffee shop & roastery -- you'll likely have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with a total stranger -- but it was the first and best of the post-Starbucks artisan coffee houses. They import an extensive list of varieties, source from excellent roasters, and can craft a laudable latte, though the delectable selection of crispy croissants and other pastries is not to be missed either.

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12. Federation Coffee Unit 77-78, Brixton Village, Coldharbour Ln., Brixton, SW9 8PS

Located inside a bustling corner of Brixton Market, Federation Coffee offers energy kicks in the form of single-origin espresso, filtered coffees, and housemade pastries. There are hardly any seats, but if you’re lucky, try to snag a spot in the window for some seriously awesome people watching.

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13. Grind 213 Old Street Roundabout, London, EC1V 9NR

Doubling as a coffee shop by day, and a cocktail bar by night, not to mention a recording studio, this hard-working venue manages to look tidy and handsome in its do-all capacity. Installed with dark wood flooring, industrial piping, and hanging bulbs, an urban aesthetic infuses both morning and evening settings with an attractive, trendy vibe. The delicious selection of savory and sweet foods (like one-pan eggs) probably entices crowds too.

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14. Workshop Coffee Co. 27 Clerkenwell Rd, London, EC1M 5RN

This full service cafe and roasting company has several outposts around London where you can sample their impeccably roasted and fine-tuned brews. What began as an outpost of the Aussie-owned St. Ali cafe is now a free standing entity offering up some of the highest quality coffee and espresso beverages in London. The Clerkenwell store serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, with a focus an options for vegetarians and vegans. The cafe also serves beer and wine just to make sure you absolutely never have to leave. Hip and modern, all of the cafes are fairly popular, but with plentiful seating you shouldn't have a problem getting a table.

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15. Caravan King's Cross Granary Building, 1 Granary Sq, , London, N1C 4AA (Kings Cross)

Caravan is home to a number of different reasons to go there, including their own coffee roastery, a menu loaded with small plates and pizzas, and cocktails and beer made with said roasted coffee.

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16. Bar Termini 7 Old Compton St, London, W1D 5JE (Soho)

This Soho drinkery does coffee by day and cocktails by night, and is brought to you by Tony Conigliaro, the same man behind the wildly popular 69 Colebrooke Row.

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17. Allpress Espresso 55 Dalston Lane, London, E8 2NG (Whitechapel)

Amazing coffee from Allpress continues at this Dalston location, where they're roasting, brewing, and serving espresso and other coffee magic.

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18. Nude Espresso 26 Hanbury St, London,

A classic cafe with a bit of a New Zealand twist, London's Nude Espresso serves up freshly brewed coffee and from-scratch food everyday. With a mix of breakfast and lunch items, as well as daily pastries (including a signature Portuguese egg custard tart), Nude aims to have something for everyone, whether you're staying to study or taking lunch to go. Nude roasts all their own beans at their roasting plant, ensuring quality while extracting the very best from their single-origin beans. Seating is limited at both outposts of this shop, but worth fighting for—the interiors are lovely and bright, and there's free wifi.

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19. Ozone Coffee Roasters 11 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4AQ (Shoreditch)

Set up in a two-story, exposed-brick space in Shoreditch, Ozone is serving the freshest cup o’ joe from literally the other side of the planet (New Zealand). London has plenty of amazing coffee, but Ozone takes the cafe to another level, dishing out exceptional food as well. Serving brunch till 4pm and an all-day menu from 11:45am - 8pm, we’re not just talking sandwiches and muffins: bigger plates include braised beef short rib with sweetcorn polenta, or citrus mackerel with apple, gem lettuce, and dill buttermilk dressing.

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20. Kaffeine 66 Great Titchfield St, London, W1W 7QJ (Fitzrovia)

This spot has developed quite the fan base, thanks to killer coffee and great breakfast & lunch options.

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21. Climpson & Sons Café 67 Broadway Market, London, E8 4PH (Victoria)

This spot is a full fledged London establishment. For their coffee prepared the way they intend, head to this café where they're brewing it themselves.