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Jan 24, 2011 12:15 PM

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"