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London "Third Wave" Coffee

Is there a consensus on which are the quality "third wave" coffee shops in London?

If so, is there a list and if not where should I be going?


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  1. It would be an interesting debate to assess whether the second wave has really reached London. Monmouth, Flat White, Lantarna etc are still rare (second wave?) outposts in a barren land.

    1. I assume you mean 'coffee that speaks for itself.' I have a list that was published awhile back in a cooking magazine, but it's filed away. I'll type it out here tomorrow.

      You could start with Monmouth Coffee.

      1. You could start with the London 2010 coffee map from the World Barista championship:

        I don't know that there is ever consensus on these sorts of things. Personally, I think that in terms of dedication and care to source and quality, I'd put Tapped & Packed at or near the top of the list.

        1 Reply
        1. re: r.vacapinta

          Thanks for the cool map - very handy (minor update - I believe Penny University has completed its tenure as a pop up cafe?). To that list of good coffee places, I'd add the Hatch on Bermondsey Street -- a dedicated barista with obsessive quality control. He's currently using Square Mile Winter blend for the espresso drinks. For serious coffee, I'd also check out Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian coffee ceremony (how does it compare with Lalibela's?). Candy Cafe serves an rich Ipoh-style white coffee.

        2. It would be good if you can expand on your definition. As I understand it, third wave is specific to the US and its mapping to places like London or to Continental Europe is approximate. If you just define it as the sourcing and the careing about every detail about preparation - from origin to roasting to brewing - then the other answers here apply fairly well.

          The other argument is that the US is heading in a completely new direction. There's a movement toward lighter roasts to bring out the properties of the bean compared to the darker roasts in both the UK and Europe, or even the tasty Torrefacto roast favored in Portugal.

          If you're not used to it, these lighter roasts can be shocking. The coffee is more sour than bitter. On a recent taste of an espresso from Four Barrel Coffee when I was in San Francisco, I found the coffee undrinkable. It tasted as if someone had put brine or lemon juice in my espresso. My wife felt the same. My SF friends - coffee fiends - failed to realize that the problem was. But they related that on a recent trip to Paris, they had found the coffee undrinkable - burned and bitter is how they described it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: r.vacapinta

            Both you and your friends are right, to my mind - I find Paris coffee burnt and bitter (and thin, and lacking complexity...) though of course there will be standouts. Underroasted espresso is sour, sour, sour. No, just give me Monmouth (or a few other London standouts, mentioned before in this thread - sadly, most London coffee is also still to be avoided). Or anywhere, more-or-less, in Italy. Or Spain. Or Portugal....

          2. i assume yr american? otherwise its weird to use that term. anyway if you just mean good coffee shops then other ppl have mentioned a lot of the places, other ones i could add -

            dose espresso
            espresso room
            fernandez + wells
            milk bar
            allpress coffee
            nude espresso
            prufrock coffee

            i'm not sure what philD means by 'a barren land' - phil do you live in london? i mean i understand if this was a few years ago but now there's plenty of places to get good coffee.

            3 Replies
            1. re: t_g

              I am glad to hear it has improved, it was getting better when I was last in London, however it is still a relative rarity when compared to somewhere like my home town of Sydney, where you are usually within easy reach of decent coffee in most suburbs. But how many good ones in London now?

              I am certain the 8 to 10 listed here are great. However, it's a short list for a very big city, and even if you include the 32 on the WBC map it only works out at one good place for every 250,000 people. Hence my "barren land" comment..

              1. re: PhilD

                the quality of London vs Australian coffee? I feel your pain.

                1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                  lol yeah i used to live in sydney too but i mean most cities in the world are worse than melbourne or sydney so there is a lot of "barren land"

            2. No idea what you mean by third wave coffee places, but would be delighted to find out. In terms of good coffee in London i would also add a couple of Brixton places.


              over in Notting Hill there is also Coffee Plant - which i quite enjoy.

              Absolutely double the recommendation of Monmouth at Borough, fabulous place.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                To me this term possibly refers to the move away from espresso based coffee being the be all and end all, with nods towards 'newer' brewing methods, such as the Aeropress, Drip Filter, Eva Solo and Syphon. In which case I would think that Tapped and Packed and Dose are the two better options in London.

                T&P is becoming my favourite destination for coffee, although Fernandez and Wells (with Hasbean coffee) is excellent for those milk based drinks I just can't recreate at home

                  1. re: t_g

                    That's where I headed, too! I had never heard the term, so I guess it means I really have been over here way too long. :-)

                  2. re: stanleyk

                    oh gotcha - Monmouth does a really nice drip filter.

                1. Probably stating the obvious, but it might be worthwhile to do some exploration of Green Lanes or even Edgware Road, as well as Ethiopian places for coffee. Afterall, various parts of the Middle East and Africa are some of the earliest consumers of this beverage and we've severely under explored these original expressions of coffee. Ethiopian coffee ceremony can be a bit more elaborate than grabbing a cup and going, but if there's time, it's actually quite enjoyable and relaxing, especially if one is serious and keen on coffee.

                  1. Two of London's best that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

                    Kaffeine (on Great Titchfield Street)
                    Fernandez & Wells (Soho)

                    Monmouth is also great.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: applesandoranges

                        I mentioned Monmouth... way up at the top of the page. :-)

                      2. Caravan in Exmouth Market is pretty good. Nice brunch spot as well.

                        1. Has anyone mentioned Taylor Street Baristas?
                          Especially if you like coffee that is not acidic (I dislike Illy coffee for that reason). I had an amazing cappuccino which tasted sweet without the addition of sugar. Quite extraordinary.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dr_lee_xray

                            Taylor St. Baristas is in the map I linked to above. They are actually my regular place at work, along with the Whitecross St. coffee cart- I work near Moorgate Tube. I like Taylor St's consistency even with their new bigger place.

                          2. There's a new branch of Tapped and Packed on Tottenham Court Road. I had a flat white this morning and didn't think it was as good as Lantana just round the corner. Also the guy at the counter was wearing horrible chipped nail varnish, and they were blasting out Muse at 8.30 in the morning. Am I getting old?

                            1. Since someone has revived this thread, I have to add that my favorite coffee place in London is a place called Notes Music & Coffee near Charing Cross. Amazingly good, and in a touristy part of town and open late. It felt too good to be true.

                              It made me switch away from Tapped & Packed and Espresso Room though, both of which I had visited regularly since their openings.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: r.vacapinta

                                A great location - thanks for the tip.

                                31 ST MARTIN'S LANE

                              2. I've been getting my fix at the Algerian (52 Old Compton St) in Soho for almost 20 years, they're not a café of course, but their espresso is the best - and cheapest - in London IMO. Almost italian prices.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mymuk

                                  I just want to give a word to a new place that''s opened round the corner from me and stands some comparison with the above based on my sole visit so far - Fred & Fran on Kynaston Road, Stoke Newington. So good to get great coffee in a chilled venue on a random backstreet! And they give you a biscuit with your coffee too :-)

                                  My favourite places are Dose and Allpress, by the way. Haven't really explored the Soho/Fitzrovia coffee scene yet although I'm planning a day out sometime!

                                2. I cant understand the love for monmouth. Great espresso and good beans but their pour over/filter coffee just seems lazy. The last i had they just dumped the water on like they were rinsing hair! Prufrock and Tapped and Packed for me please!!