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Alternatives to Starbucks - good places to drink coffee in and around central London?

elgordo Mar 4, 2009 09:35 AM

I'm looking for recommendations for places to drink good coffee in and around central London. The location and distance is of no consequence, what matters is that i find a number of places that serve good coffee and take their coffee brewing seriously.
Any recommendations will be welcomed!

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  1. limster RE: elgordo Mar 4, 2009 10:00 AM

    Monmouth coffee (Borough Market & Covent Gardens) is very good, sells a large range of coffees (beans and brews) from various parts of the world. Most of the coffees I've had from them seem to have a deep earthy note, maybe in the roast.

    Square Mile coffee (Bethal Green) might only be a bean roaster/seller, but they supply Flat White and Milk Bar, both of which make excellent coffees that while strong, seem to have a very smooth character.

    I don't have any that I know of, but hope other hounds will suggest places for great Turkish, Lebanese and other Middle Eastern coffees (some flavoured with spices like cardamom). Some of the Vietnamese places in Kingsland Road might also be worth looking into for their strong drip coffees with condensed milk.

    5 Replies
    1. re: limster
      pj26 RE: limster Mar 5, 2009 12:50 AM

      I'd also recommend Flat White in Soho - Antipodeans take their coffee brewing very seriously!
      Viet Grill on Kingsland Road does the strong coffee with condensed milk.

      1. re: pj26
        mr_gimlet RE: pj26 Mar 5, 2009 01:02 AM

        Also, it depends on how you drink your coffee. Flat White excels at the espresso-based drinks, whilst Monmouth Street tends to have a lot more filter/plunger coffee blends - if you drink this kind of coffee, them Monmouth is your spot.

        I've been buying Square Mile for my home machine and it's excellent.

        Both are quite close to one another anyway.

        1. re: mr_gimlet
          t_g RE: mr_gimlet Mar 5, 2009 02:09 AM

          there's a few threads abt this. 2 good places that havent been mentioned yet: fernandez + wells and milk bar (owned by the flat white ppl)

          1. re: t_g
            Gourmet Chick RE: t_g Mar 5, 2009 06:59 AM

            To add to these Lantana in Soho and Providores in Marylebone also do excellent coffee.


            1. re: Gourmet Chick
              rblack RE: Gourmet Chick Mar 21, 2009 06:44 AM

              Lantana in Charlotte Place seconded. Also very nice food.

    2. r
      raistlyn RE: elgordo Mar 8, 2009 05:48 PM

      A new cafe called Wild & Wood which serves Monmouth coffee and pastries from Sally Clarke's has opened up on 1 New Oxford Street. It's a small, cosy place with wooden furniture sourced from an old church. It's open from Mon to Sat and is well-worth a visit.

      1 Reply
      1. re: raistlyn
        iheartcupcakes RE: raistlyn Mar 15, 2009 01:00 PM

        I went here y'day for a cappucino and it was really good - quiet though - just me there! I didn't try a cake but shall be back in the week for one. Really good service and nice decor as well

      2. p
        pj26 RE: elgordo Mar 9, 2009 03:54 AM

        Another place I was reminded of as I walked down Broadway Market on Sunday was Climpson and Sons - great coffee and good breakfast/brunch.

        1. greedygirl RE: elgordo Mar 9, 2009 07:03 AM

          The Algerian Coffee Store on Old Compton Street is one of the best places in London to buy coffee, and they do takeaway espresso.

          1. m
            mr_gimlet RE: elgordo Mar 9, 2009 08:03 AM

            An acquaintance recommended Taste of Bitter Love at 276 Hackney Road, E2

            Never been, but I trust her judgement on coffee

            1. r
              raistlyn RE: elgordo Mar 9, 2009 09:19 AM

              I haven't been to this place but have seen it on a number of other coffee blogs. The coffee cart at Whitecross Street is apparently supposed to be good. It's only there during the week and he sells at Columbia Road Market on Sundays. The man running the cart - Gwilym - was crowned the UK Barista Champion for 2009.

              Here's a link to the map of his cart locations: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=e....

              2 Replies
              1. re: raistlyn
                felizglfr RE: raistlyn Mar 9, 2009 10:47 AM

                Are you talking about the Flat White coffee cart on the weekdays?

                Another recommendation I'd have is Taylor Street Baristas in the City.

                1. re: raistlyn
                  felizglfr RE: raistlyn Mar 9, 2009 10:49 AM

                  ah, wait. yah this is the flat white guy. i see him everyday on my way to work.

                2. m
                  mzungu RE: elgordo Mar 10, 2009 04:27 PM

                  Monmouth Coffee shop in Covent Garden is a great place to get good coffee. They also DO NOT burn their coffee like other places I could mention .....

                  Enjoy .....

                  1. loobcom RE: elgordo Mar 11, 2009 03:30 AM

                    Not strictly Central but Taste of Bitter Love at 276 Hackney Road, E2 are serving an amazingly complex Winter Espresso at the moment. Very nice people and every cup is made with great care.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: loobcom
                      mr_gimlet RE: loobcom Mar 11, 2009 04:33 AM

                      It's Square Mile coffee's blend. (Recommended above)

                      1. re: mr_gimlet
                        DollyDagger RE: mr_gimlet Mar 11, 2009 04:54 AM

                        You can also get Square Mile coffee (and awesome Flat Whites) at dose on Long Lane. it's possibly the smallest coffee shop ever but it's excellent - the daily soups and sweet things are supplied by Bea's of Bloomsbury, who are also well worth a visit.


                        I get my best coffee recommendations from Bellaphon's blog, here:


                    2. belma79 RE: elgordo Mar 11, 2009 08:30 AM

                      Monmouth Coffee most definitely. I like the Borough Market location in particular.

                      1. kristainlondon RE: elgordo Mar 13, 2009 02:04 PM

                        Dose Espresso on Long Lane by Smithfield Market (EC1)
                        Nude in Shoreditch. (Hanbury Street, I think.)

                        Both are Square Mile, I believe.

                        I also like the coffee guys on Whitecross Street in the mornings during the week. They're at Columbia Road market on Sundays as well.

                        1. nanette RE: elgordo Mar 20, 2009 09:10 AM

                          With Monmouth now charging £2.30 for a very small filter coffee, I don't think it is a very good value, not matter how rare and well sourced the beans.

                          I've always been a fan of Caffe Vergnano on the South Bank with another tiny outlet on Charring Cross.

                          The below is a rather handy map/list from the UK Coffee Forum of "good coffee" across the country:


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