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Best coffee places in London

m
ManInTransit Aug 27, 2013 02:09 AM

Feels like time this is updated, always useful to have a list of high quality coffee shops dotted around town so visitors or locals can always work out if they're in striking distance. I'd certainly appreciate some recs for the areas I don't know as well so please feel free to expand.

I've deliberately left out of the food offerings so as not to over-complicate but most of these places also offer excellent sandwiches and light meals.

Clerkenwell/City
Workshop Coffee - same people behind the Melbourne place. Probably the best in London (although don't go if in a rush)
Dose - even closer into the City/St Paul's high quality place using Square Mile beans.
Department of Coffee - another antipodean place on Leather Lane by Hatton Garden. Superb coffee from Climpson and Sons. Also run barista classes in the evenings which are highly recommended.
Prufrock - Opposite Department of Coffee and slightly inferior but good for variety.

East London
Shoreditch Grind - on silican roundabout itself by Old Street. They use their own evolving blend.
Allpress - superb place with its own roastery from which you can buy takehome coffee.
Climpson and Sons - Broadway Market in Hackney. I've never actually visited this place but given the quality of Climpson's own coffee I can be pretty certain it will be very good.

North London
Caravan (branches at Kings X and on Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell). Another place with its own roastery which supplies a number of high end restaurants as well including St John. Rotating interesting filter selection which will often offer a Yirgacheffe as well as a darker nuttier coffee from Indonesia with plenty of Latin American as well. Service can be questionable.
Fred & Fran - long way out in Stoke Newington but superb little shop brewing Square Mile Red Brick. Not worth a trip but if you happen to live/visit the area highly recommended.
The Little One - another neighbourhood coffee place at the east end of Primrose Hill. Not really space to sit unless it's a nice day but another good quality espresso place using Square Mile.

West Central
Speakeasy Espresso - Uses the coffeesmiths espresso blend but also offers a variety of brewed coffee. Just off Carnaby St a good choice in what can be a quality vacuum.
Monmouth Seven Dials - Main shop for Monmouth Coffee where the queues are shorter than at Borough Market. Lots of coffee to takeaway as well as their traditional filters and espresso too (although espresso is a bit of an afterthought here compared to the Aus and NZ places).

  1. l
    Londonlinda Aug 27, 2013 02:46 AM

    What a great idea. Just to add, that you can now buy a pocket sized map of great independent coffee places at Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road.

    My favourites:

    New Row Coffee in New Row off St Martins Lane (Covent garden area). Wonderful iced espresso.

    The coffee wagon whose name escapes me in the grounds of St Brides Church Fleet Street. In fact, many of the churches in the city and west end host coffee wagons, usually serving Square Mile beans.

    But my absolute fave will always be Monmouth, happy to queue always!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Londonlinda
      m
      ManInTransit Aug 27, 2013 03:05 AM

      Flat Cap Fleet Street? That is a lovely little cart. There's also Bean About Town in St Katharine Docks who are very well-liked in the area so much so that a petition prevented them getting thrown out when the Docks put up the rent.

    2. u
      ultimatepotato Aug 27, 2013 03:42 AM

      The Roastery Cafe Wandsworth Rd, Taylor St Baristas in various locations, the Bean About Town cart outside Dalston Kingsland Overground (that man and his cart saved my life through weeks of volunteering during the Olympics).

      Closest to my home is a place called Coffee Cake which is good, although I tend to get coffee near work on weekdays rather than anywhere local - I live in Crouch End now, and we're over-run by Costa, Starbucks and H + H (the coffee is fine but I didn't like the service I got, could just be a one-off though). Avoid The Haberdashery - overcrowded, overpriced, nasty coffee, average food.

      When I lived in Highbury my favourite brunch place on Blackstock Rd was The Globe. Really good coffee at about half the price of chains (although please note while I love this place, I wouldn't promote it as a coffee destination to travel to, just a great place for locals).

      1. b
        brokentelephone Aug 27, 2013 04:04 AM

        I just went to Workshop on Clerkenwell and my aeropress iced coffee to be almost perfect. No bitterness, lingering acidity, and plenty of caffeine.

        I usually put a tiny bit of sugar and milk into my iced coffee, but seeing as they don't give the customer the option to customize their own drinks with basic condiments, I drank it happily without.

        A bit expensive for a coffee (£4), but the process is a bit involved so perhaps it's a fair price. Dunno.

        1. j
          J Sheridan Aug 28, 2013 03:20 AM

          Where is poor old south London in all this? The best coffee in Battersea is at Pintus in Northcote Road and Costa's (no relation) in Battersea High Street (open Weds - Sat). Both also do good cakes.
          Deli Boutique in St Johns Road and Webbs Road make an excellent macchiato but other coffees are too milky.

          1. t
            t_g Aug 28, 2013 05:51 AM

            'Workshop Coffee - same people behind the Melbourne place.'

            not sure if this is true?

            when they first opened they were called 'st ali' and had something to do w/ the place in melbourne but since the name change i'm pretty sure they've severed ties

            2 Replies
            1. re: t_g
              m
              ManInTransit Aug 28, 2013 09:02 AM

              Could well be - I remember the fanfare when it opened that it was Melbourne St Ali come to London.

              The quality doesn't seem to have dipped since the name change but perhaps no official ties anymore.

              1. re: t_g
                f
                FeastFinder Oct 27, 2013 07:23 AM

                From what I recently read, I believe they were St Ali but it was difficult to manage being so far from the base company so they split off to become their own entity under the Workshop name.

              2. limster Aug 31, 2013 11:40 AM

                Ipoh white coffee at Candy Cafe - an almost caramel and smoky richness, balanced by condensed milk.

                Qahwa (which is just the arabic name for coffee) at Bateel - a very lightly roasted coffee (from Yemen iirc), a light-ivory brown liquid, with layers of flavour, enhanced with cardamom. Perfect with one of their sweet sticky dates.

                Ethiopian coffee ceremony at Queen of Sheba - the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans alone is worth the price of admission. Brewed in the traditional earthen-ware, which I suspect aerates the coffee in a similar manner as Yixing pots for tea.

                At Borough Market, Eliot's offers outstanding coffee (apparently ex-Dose barista), largely Square Mile beans. High fruit and acidity in the espresso, so probably best balanced with milk. They also coax gentle layered flavours in a couple of filter brews. I generally prefer them to Monmouth.

                Very careful precise espresso making from Blacksmiths Coffee, a window at the top of Bermondsey Street -- uses Square Mile beans as well.

                Any recommendations for ca phe sua da?

                2 Replies
                1. re: limster
                  b
                  brokentelephone Sep 1, 2013 02:58 AM

                  I've yet to find a great Vietnamese coffee in London. I regularly make my own, but haven't ever bought the Vietnamese beans in London.

                  In USA/Canada, they use New Orleans style coffee w/chicory for the Vietnamese coffee, though I believe this may be a North American substitute as the Vietnamese brands aren't readily available.

                  1. re: brokentelephone
                    zuriga1 Sep 1, 2013 01:50 PM

                    My aunt used to always make her coffee with that stuff in the red can. I wish my mother had done the same.

                2. l
                  Loobs Oct 27, 2013 07:29 AM

                  I'd like to add Kaffeine in Gt. Titchfield St. to your West Central list.

                  1. r
                    Roland Parker Oct 28, 2013 08:16 AM

                    I'm partial to Gail's coffee at her various bakery locations, especially with her fabulous cinnamon rolls.

                    Espresso Room in Bloomsbury is also excellent. Their coffee doesn't have the bitterness that you find with Italian coffee (or Starbucks) so some people may not care for it. But it's a rich, subtle coffee flavor.

                    1. Paprikaboy Mar 14, 2014 01:38 PM

                      Another to add to the list. Had a very good flat white from Loft Coffee very recently , just round the corener from Finchley Road tube. A rich and fully round cup of coffee.They use Monnmouth coffee iirc, The pastries that come from Gails also looked good,

                      1. a
                        AlexRast Mar 14, 2014 06:33 PM

                        My own experiences (based always on a plain single espresso - choosing origin or other "premium" bean when possible):

                        Workshop (both locations): Not nearly as good as they should be, nor IMHO by a long toss the best in London. The espresso seems always to be a bit thin, too acid for
                        my taste.
                        Dose: Burnt. A real disappointment.
                        Department of Coffee: Much better, much closer to what I'd expect. A bit generic though; didn't get much in the way of unique flavour from it. Would like a shorter pour.
                        Prufrock. Very similar to Workshop - highly acid and thin.
                        Speakeasy. Exact memory fails me - which means it has been generic. Have been several times hoping for more but I can't recall a time that I've been impressed.
                        Monmouth. Given the quality of their coffee I wish they'd do more origins as espresso from the bar. Oily, a bit dark. Good but I'd say only in the same way that a lot of caffes in Italy are good.
                        My new favourite is TAP (Tapped And Packed) on Wardour Street. Interestingly it seems to be quite an improvement over the Rathbone Place shop. Very nicely done espresso; they have the pour time, volume, and temperature down to an art. Additional marks for instituting the Italian pay first, go to the bar and order your coffee second system.

                        RIP: Flat White. This used to be my favourite, but since the refurbishment the quality has dropped catastrophically, and the baristas don't seem to care. What a shame, for a shop that was in the van of the quality coffee development in London.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AlexRast
                          PhilD Mar 14, 2014 07:25 PM

                          Shame to hear about Flat White which was my go to place. Agree about Workshop, visited there by chance and wasn't impressed. Subsequently read the rave reviews and couldn't believe it was the same place.

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