We love a coffee shop date. Not because we secretly think matcha might be an aphrodisiac or because the hum of a milk frother is basically Marvin Gaye to our ears, but because a coffee date gives you so much more flexibility. If the date goes well you can casually move on to drinks or dinner, and if it’s a hard pass you can be on your merry way without needing a mate to call you about a ‘very real emergency that is happening right now’. See, flexibility. And potentially, romance. Here are the best coffee shops in London that are perfect for a date.
The patio at Allpress deserves some kind of coffee romance award. We imagine this would involve a giant, golden mug statue handed out by Claudia Winkleman and Paddy McGuinness dressed as cupid. But until we make that a reality, feel free to use this Dalston spot as your own perfect date setting. The huge secluded patio is complete with big potted plants, trees, and rustic benches. But don’t panic if the weather turns, they have two-floors of seating inside and a coffee lab where you can nerd out on beans too.
There’s nothing romantic about meeting for a large frappuccino with three shots of vanilla syrup and half a squeeze of whipped cream. Because as much as people tell you to be yourself, they’re all lying. Don’t be yourself. Leave all the big South Kensington coffee chains behind you and head to mini-chain Hagen. This cute little coffee shop says 'I know a thing or two about coffee'. Yes it’s a small place, but the white walls, gold detailing, and high velvet stools give it an intimate feel, and make it the kind of place where you’d want to hear all the details of their childhood phobia of ducks.
Apple Butter Cafe
If our dream of meeting the love of our lives in a coffee shop ever comes true, there’s a high chance it would be in Apple Butter Cafe. This Middle Eastern spot in Covent Garden is all about the exposed brick and velvet sofas, not to mention the huge apple tree slap bang in the middle of it. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxed date where you can get comfortable. Get some of their specialty coffee, and if all goes well, something from their all-day menu wouldn’t hurt either.
First impressions are important. That’s why you’re going to hide your Avengers tattoo for at least the first three years of this potential relationship. But honestly, it’s pretty hard to make a bad first impression at Hackney’s Footnote. We’re talking huge windows, foliage, blackboards, a picturesque wine-coloured front, and excellent coffee. If you’re looking to step things up, they have top brunch classics on offer. Did we mention the excellent coffee?
What isn’t this Notting Hill cafe good for? There’s not much. But one thing it’s not good for is making you want to have a quick coffee and leave. Which is why it’s the perfect place to bring someone you’re hoping to spend more than an hour with. The lighting, exposed brick, and menu filled with things like a Turkish breakfast for two to Nutella stuffed doughnuts, is the perfect backdrop for a daytime date which will definitely (maybe) make them fall in love with you.
If you’re after a coffee spot that’s cool and romantic but doesn’t feature latte art and death stares from bean-worshipping baristas, then Scooter Café is the place for you. This Waterloo café is housed in a converted motorcycle garage and is a little bit naff in all the right ways - see the vespa at the till and all of the posters of nuns riding scooters. We’ve been here for a date before so we can tell you first hand that it’s cheap, cheerful, and the little patio out back is perfect for spotting local cats and turning coffee into a couple of cocktails.
We don’t care what our therapists say, bacon is a love language. As is cheese, mango custard, and pretty much anything else you’ll find inside Pophams’ pastries. But before you start bringing out doughy love bombs in the form of London’s best almond croissant, we’d like to remind you that this is about coffee. More specifically, sipping Ozone coffee together in the window of this comfortable and spacious Hackney bakery, to find out whether they are in fact worthy of a bacon and maple danish.
Leading someone to this Tooting brunch spot’s outdoor terrazzo is a dating power move. It says I know things. And more importantly, it says if you stick with me, you’ll know things too. Get some coffee or their black cardamon chai, and take a seat in their courtyard. You’ll be tempted to order some of their brunch stuff, and you most definitely should give into that temptation. One thing to remember though: only bring someone you actually see potential with here, because you will most likely be back.
We love F Mondays, and not just because its name is very much in keeping with our general life philosophy. No, we love F Mondays for their excellent coffee, collection of cacti, and their hidden garden out back. Anyone that would take us to this cool and casual spot on Brixton Hill would get a big tick from us, and probably a salted caramel brownie too. Just be warned that they close at 4pm during the week.
Dolly Parton references, initiated. There you go, you’ve already got your ice breaker sorted. Newington Green’s Jolene is spacious, comfortable, and very easy on the eye. Part-rustic, part-industrial, this all-day café will work just as well for a quick cup of coffee at the bar as it will for a four-hour D&M in their front garden. You should know that Jolene is first and foremost a bakery, so whether the date goes well or downright terribly, be sure to get yourself a pastry or two before leaving.
Greenberry Café isn’t for first dates. We’d say that this charming little café in Primrose Hill is more second date territory. You know, when you already know you like them and can live with the fact they have a cat called Louis Furoux. As well as old-school checkered table-clothes, a green pastel front, and a cute little pavement terrace, the exposed brick interior also looks exactly like somewhere that a Richard Curtis meet-cute might take place. If you really want to make a good impression, head for a stroll up Primrose Hill once your coffee needs are covered.
Balcone is where you go when you want your date to know that you’re like, really cool and own at least one pair of corduroy dungarees. Oh, and yes, you do listen to Animal Collective, thanks for asking. This bright and modern coffee spot near Victoria Park always has a great playlist on the speakers, proper coffee available, and enough house plants dotted around for you to start up a conversation about your mutual love of cacti. Heads up, there’s also a nice little courtyard out back.
If the name of a coffee shop sounds like it could also be the name of an indie band from the noughties then it’s a good place for a date. That’s just science. Or something. Anyway, Dark Habit falls into the above category. The look is chic modern minimalism and the coffee is great. If the ‘ick’ doesn’t strike by the time you’ve finished your flat white, take a stroll around Queen’s Park.
All you know about this person is what their Hinge profile has told you. So basically, you know that they once dressed up as Edward Scissorhands for halloween and that they have a real thing for a sepia filter. But Fare is a fitting background for properly getting to know someone. Game plan: start with a coffee on their patio out back, move to their high tables for a cocktail, and if you really like them, round the date off with a pizza and a bottle of wine at the central bar. Date, sorted.
You want your date to believe that you make your bed every day and you almost, maybe, definitely have some kind of credit score. Go to Vardo. This all-day restaurant in Chelsea basically looks like a spaceship owned by an intergalactic movie star. Sit in the outdoor covered area, order a couple freshly-roasted macchiatos, and say something sophisticated like “this architecture has a real Zaha Hadid feel, don’t you think?”. Plus, if the date goes well you can transition into espresso martinis and dinner.
Feeling nervous? Well, one of our mates accidentally poured an entire iced latte over their partner on their first date and now they’re getting married. We know, it’s a modern fairytale. And also, we hope it makes you feel better about your forthcoming date. No matter which faux pas you might make, Ozone will still impress. A fail-safe friend in coffee shop form, this place serves some of the best brews in London and it’s big enough that you should always be able to find a table.