London’s best coffee shops
The London coffee scene has completely transformed in the last decade, with independent roasters and caffeine-purveyors springing up at an ever-growing rate. We take you through the best coffee shops in central, east, west and south London.
From old stalwarts like Soho’s Bar Italia, to new Peckham locations with the nerdiest equipment shipped in from the US, find somewhere to sip a cup of Joe whether your favourite drink is an oat milk latte or a strong-as-they-come double espresso.
The best coffee shops in central London
City of London
It can be hard to find an independent coffee spot in amongst the sea of average chains located in the City of London, which makes Press Coffee a gem of a find. You’ll find them roasting away on the iconic Fleet Street as well as Chancery Lane, in beautiful buildings that really showcase the charm of the old city. The beans change frequently, but no matter the roast of the day, the coffee always packs a punch. It’s a good spot to plug in and work between meetings or you could grab a cup to go before exploring Covent Garden by foot.
Since they opened in 2016, Catalyst have grown a dedicated following. Roasting their own beans, they offer a flat white, pour over or cappuccino freddo second-to-none! But they are more than just a coffee roaster, co-founder Alex Gkikas Greek roots show themselves in some of the brunch dishes on offer, such as kayanas (Greek-style scrambled eggs with feta and tomato). The even better news is that the coffee also makes its way into the company’s Coffee Sriracha, sold by the bottle. It’s made with fresh chillies and Catalyst coffee, it takes the egg dishes on offer here to another plane…
This small coffee shop sure has grown into quite the London outfit – with nine locations now sprawled out across the capital. The coffee, which has scooped up a whole host of accolades, is the best around. We love the original London Bridge site (Union Street) which is a stone’s throw away from Borough Market. Head here before or after visiting the market and enjoy avoiding a queue. The name – by the way – isn’t a gender thing; they believe anyone can be a “gentleman” by simply being magnanimous, well-mannered, helpful and generous. Well, we can get on board with that.
Ready for the back story behind the name? Well… the very first location of Attendant (in Bloomsbury) was actually situated within a disused Victorian toilet. It’s our favourite of all of their locations too, as it’s completely nondescript from street level, but underneath is a bustling café filled with city dwellers, shoppers and those looking for an escape. They now have six locations in total, all serving up a rather decent brunch menu filled with seasonal local produce alongside sustainable coffee.
Baristas in lab coats, stark minimalist aesthetics, more than your fair share of bean-weighing – Omotesando is a bougie, boutique spot serving espresso in which every minute detail is painstakingly perfected. Sound pretentious? You’re not wrong – but when the coffee’s as good as they get it, you’ll be buying into the vibe in no time.
A bona fide London icon, this small Soho café has been serving espresso at all hours of the day and night since the 1940s. Go as much for the atmosphere as the coffee and linger for a little longer than is strictly necessary.
Covent Garden, Borough and Bermondsey on Fridays and Saturdays
Monmouth is quite the London institution. They source and roast their coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives, and have been serving Londoners exquisite coffee for over 40 years. Grab a cup to go from their original site in Covent Garden or from Borough Market. Expect queues on weekdays but that’s the sign of a pretty great cup, right?
The best coffee shops in east London
Not only do Allpress supply their banging coffee to hundreds of independent coffee shops across the UK, they have their own cafes that you can visit too. The brand was built by Michael Allpress who witnessed Seattle’s 1980’s coffee craze and decided to create New Zealand’s first ever coffee cart. The business grew into a handful of cafés in Auckland City and now boasts three locations in London (in Shoreditch and Dalston).
Just off Spitalfields market, you’ll find coffee haven Nude Coffee Roasters. They’re one of the leaders in barista training in London and seriously know their stuff when it comes to a decent cup of chow. We love this spot for taking a pause on busy days out in East London or the City; sit in the window and watch the people go by.
Coffee-making as a competitive sport? You’d better believe it, and the brains behind Prufrock Coffee is none other than Gwilym Davies, World Barista Champion 2009. Davies is at the forefront of coffee’s ‘Third Wave’ – a movement to raise awareness of coffee as a hand-made product, focusing as much on provenance as wine-making does – and he brews a damn fine cup.
Old Street, London Fields and London Bridge
We can’t get enough of the weekend brunch at Ozone. Their big-style breakfasts will set you up for the day, especially when paired with one of their award-winning brews. They’re fully licensed too, should you fancy a cocktail. Their coffee negroni, made with Campari, sweet vermouth, gin and cold drip coffee is go-back-for-another good.
Although their cafés have become a hot destination for the weekend cocktail crowd, the coffee on offer at Grind must not be overlooked. Their span across the city is impressive: with seven coffee shops and four all-day eateries. The decor in all of them is gorgeous, the atmosphere is electric, and the coffee is superb. Can’t get to London? Sign up to their at-home coffee subscription service and have fully compostable pods send to your door!
The best coffee shops in south London
Browns of Brockley
Brockley, Forest Hill, East Dulwich
Since 2009, Browns of Brockley has been supplying South East London with top quality filter and espresso using Square Mile Coffee beans, so you could say they were part of the first wave of the capital’s ‘coffee culture’. New locations near Forest Hill station and on Lordship Lane are now part of the portfolio, but the same rules apply: great coffee, friendly service, and select baked treats from Bermondsey’s Little Bread Pedlar. Neighbourhood coffee doesn’t get better.
Peckham’s NOLA is minimalist cool almost to point of being intimidating, but what they do they do very well: filter and espresso coffee and an all day brunch menu of sandwiches, pastries and bagels. Coffee beans are single-origin and sourced with NI based Lucid roastery, and coffee nerds take note: their state-of-the-art Mavam Mach 2 espresso machine is one of only a few in the country.
Juliet’s Quality Foods
Stepping into Juliet’s is like stepping into the Antipodes, and you know what that means: they make a damn fine flat white. Alongside top quality filter and espresso drinks (from the Barn in Berlin), the kitchen here knocks it out the park. The vadouvan eggs and espresso hollandaise will start your day off right. And why not add a side portion of Lincolnshire Poacher topped hash browns? Because you can…
The best coffee shops in west London
Located in the sun-baked conservatory of The Palace Gardener, Glasshouse Café is a bit of a hidden gem in Fulham, which means you’re always likely to get a table. The friendly team are serving up exceptional coffee with beans from Caravan Coffee Roasters, and an array of dairy and non-dairy milks from independent suppliers. It’s a peaceful spot for brunch and, with coffee refills for just £1, you can make a morning of it. Few things are as zen as the F.A.T breakfast (feta, avo and tomato on toast with lemon and mint) and a perfectly foamy cappuccino on the secluded terrace. What’s more, you can stock up on more plant babies on the way out!
The best coffee shops in north London
Kings Cross (various locations also around London)
Oh what a joy it is to visit Caravan. Not only is their coffee top-rate, but their Kings Cross location is situated within the bustling Coals Drop Yard, which offers ample opportunity for an afternoon’s shopping when the caffeine buzz hits.
Since 2013, Ester’s café has been pumping out Stoke Newington’s best coffee and brunches for hungry locals. Grinding coffee from Has Bean, with guest special beans from UK roasters such as Fortitude in Edinburgh, these guys know how to brew an excellent flat white. They even make a mean pumpkin spice latté when in season. You are guaranteed a line out the door on Saturday mornings, as Ester’s is famous for their incredible brunches made with seasonal produce, and very very good cookies, scones and bakes!
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