22nd Apr 2012 3:41pm | By Editor
Looking for the best coffee shops in London - you've come to the right place - because we've tracked down all the best independent coffee shops the captial has to offer. From Shoreditch Grind to Monmoth and Look Mum No Hands.
These caffeine fanatics hold weekly classes in coffee cupping (like wine-tasting, but with coffee) and homebrewing, usually in a designated east London space – or one of your choice. The idea is to bring people together and extend their journey into the world of coffee, with taste deconstruction, bean origins and processing methods, plus various brewing processes.
Various times and course dates
Before Antipodeans instigated the London coffee revolution, believe it or not, this town had something of its own caffeine culture. This Unreal City tour brings the history of the capital’s coffee houses to life as you amble through the alleys of the capital, learning the importance of the 18th-century coffee shop for trade negotiations, stock selling and general gossip-mongering. Indeed, you’ll visit many of them – and the characters inside – and see the fantastic comparison they make to many of the sterile interiors that exist in London today.
Sat, April 28, 11.30am
Meet at steps of St Michael’s Church, Cornhill, EC3V 9DS
Tube | Bank
This indie Antipodean cafe keeps the IT gurus on Silicon Roundabout wired on five-star brew. Drinkers are welcomed by a cinema-style neon sign with changeable innuendo-laden slogans, such as ‘the perfect cupsize’, and the cafe’s wrap- around windows give the effect of a glass box of coffee gorgeousness. The food, too, is worth raving about.
Mon-Fri, 7am-8pm; Sat, 9am-6pm; Sun, 10am-6pm
213 Old Street, EC1
Tube | Old Street
This espresso bar, which aims to combine ‘New Zealand ingenuity’ with ‘East End playfulness’, has a sister cafe in Brick Lane and a shop at its roastery site there, where its numerous blends are available to take home. There is a range of blends to try (all are aged seven days). Particularly famed is the signature intense ‘east’ espresso. There’s also a bountiful selection of snacks and indulgences on offer to accompany your coffee. Think homemade chocolate brownies, white chocolate and banana muffins, raspberry cupcakes and some divine spinach
and feta scones.
Mon-Fri. 7.30am-5pm; Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
19 Soho Square, W1D 3QN; 26 Hanbury St, E1 6QR
Tube | Tottenham Court Road; Aldgate East
Formerly St. Ali, this cafe recently parted ways with its Aussie sister store to blaze a trail in London. Perch at the bar for an espresso, and try the corn fritters.
Tues-Sat, 7am-10pm; Sun-Mon, 7am-6pm
27 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1M 5RN
Tube | Farringdon
One of the newest Kiwi jointson the block, this cafe makes its European debut with a rustic hangout and a roasting operation. The coffee is superb and the food equally tantalising.
Mon-Fri, 7.30am-5pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-4pm
11 Leonard Street, EC2A 4AQ
Tube | Old Street
Former world barista champion Gwilym Davies helms the machines in this sparkly little place where drinkers are greeted with a scientific-looking coffee siphon set-up. It also has a barista training centre.
Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm; Sat, 10am-4.30pm; Sun, 11am-4pm
23-25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE
Tube | Chancery Lane
The facade is signless and the interior minimalist, so your focus is on this joint’s brewed coffee – a godsend in an espresso-dominated world. The Souvenir spoons and sugar in treacle tins are wickedly quriky.
Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm; Sat, 10am-6pm
26 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JD
Tube | Goodge Street
This pop-up within a gallery is run by two architects – from Germany and Hong Kong – and opens just to capture the morning and lunch trades, while the owners go off to do their jobs in between. That’s commitment. This is London’s first and only dedicated single-origin bean cafe, with brews made with a traditional hand-lever machine from Naples.
Mon-Fri, 8.30am-9.30am, 1pm-2pm
Exhibit Gallery, 20 Goswell Rd, EC1M 7AA
Tube | Barbican
Proving good coffee is available outside Zone One, this cafe has a staunch set of caffeine-loving disciples. It sources beans from south-east London’s Volcano Coffee Works, and serves them from a beautiful Mirage Veloce machine. Here you get the perfect combination of coffee and free wifi, overlooking the lush Haven Green. If nothing else, this is your reason to schlep to the end of the Central line.
Mon-Fri, 7am-6pm; Sat, 8am-6pm; Sun, 9am-5pm
40 Haven Green, W5 2NX
Tube | Ealing Broadway
This bike shop-cum-cafe places its emphasis firmly on two wheels (there are big screens for cycling events) and coffee (it uses Square Mile blend and a two-group Marzocco Linea with a modified Anfim grinder, for all you caffiene geeks). On April 24, it will host a lively Rollapaluza challenge, in which baristas will battle it out on a pair of mounted bikes at extremely high speeds, accompanied by music, an MC and cheering crowds. The venue is famed for its salads, pies and cakes. and there is even an in-house beer, Slag.
Mon-Fri, 7.30am-10pm; Sat, 9am-10pm; Sun, 10am-10pm
49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX
Tube | Old Street
We knew somewhere among the dazzling stars of Down Under there would be a grind waving the flag for Britain. This is it. Unshamedly patriotic, Ginger & White, amid the chichi shops of Hamstead Village, uses the ubiquitous Square Mile-roasted beans, and has a conscientious approach to sourcing ingredients locally for its refershingly brief menu.
The coffee and cakes are beyond delicious.
Mon-Fri, 7.30am-5.30pm; Sat-Sun, 8.30am-5.30pm
4a-5a Perrins Court, NW3 1QS
Tube | Hamstead
This independently owned cafe won ‘best neighbourhood coffee shop’ in 2009’s Love London awards, and it’s easy to see why. Freshly ground coffee is flanked by fruit smoothies, handmade cakes, muffins and toasted melts. There are old-school desks and red-leather sofas, as well as an outside area stacked with deck chairs to enhance those indulgent chill-out vibes.
Mon-Fri, 7.30am-7.30pm; Sat, 9am-7.30pm; Sun, 9am-6pm
162 Balham High Street, SW12 9BW
Tube | Balham
At the heart of Brixton Village Market, this atmospheric coffee house is a perfect venue for a south- of-the-river cuppa. Coffee is made from beans roasted in its own Brixton roastery and the menu’s bursting.
Daily. 8am-6pm. Unit 77-78,
Brixton Village Market, SW9
Tube | Brixton
A beacon in caffeine excellence. The queues justify the coffee and vice versa. Monmouth’s been roasting since 1978 and its espresso blend is known as the among the capital’s finest.
27 Monmouth St, WC2H 9EU
Tube | Covent Garden
Continue past Clapham’s string of humdrum cafes and you’ll find this coffee mecca, with sprightly Kiwi baristas who serve lush double-shot coffees – chocolate marshmallow on the side – inside a little retro-styled establishment. There’s seating outside for sunny mornings, and scrumptious Anzac biscuits, brownies, fresh salads and bagels to make yours a dining experience, too.
89 Wandsworth Rd, SW8 3JQ
Tube | Wandsworth Road
Effortlessly cool, but fiercely professional, this is the place that paved the way for Australian and Kiwi coffee shops in London, heralding the advent of Antipodean cafe culture in Britain. That it still ranks among the best cafes in London is testament to its emphasis on quality. That it champions that holy grail of milky coffee – the flat white – does it no harm either. Its bean blend is custom-made by Square Mile, and you get a perfectly rounded cuppa every time. It’s not a particularly spacious joint, so pop in and out, and take humour in the helpful Aussie and Kiwi ‘flat white’ pronunciations on the wall.
Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-6pm
17 Berwick Street, W1F 0PT
Tube | Piccadilly Circus