Coffee. Where would we be without it? Probably unemployed with a sleep pattern that echoes that of Batman’s. But as much as we’d like to personally thank coffee for all the assistance in those 7am alarms and 2am deadlines, we’re the first to admit that not all coffee - or coffee shops - are equal. For every latte that you’d happily refer to as the elixir of life is another that tastes like a coffee bean took a bath in some dirty rainwater. But this guide is full of places where you can rely on getting a great cup of coffee, as well as spots with excellent cold brew, and even the odd state of the art situation that’s worth travelling for.
Bar Italia is a sliver of an espresso bar that’s just about as classic an establishment as anywhere else in London you could go for a cup of coffee. It’s expensive, and seating is limited, but you’ll feel like you’re part of something when you’re here, even if you’re only here for a few minutes. They’re also open till 5am most nights, so it’s perfect for a coffee after you’ve done pretty much everything else Soho has to offer.
Tintico is one of those coffee shops that, if you catch up them on the right day (or wrong, depending on your personality) will talk to you. About coffee. About froth. About whatever you want really. It’s just a friendly place. It’s also probably the best place to stop in and get some work done or just have a breather in Soho. There isn’t a tonne of space, nor are the seats made for hours of sitting, so it’s a perfect grab and go or 20 minute type place.
Prufrock isn’t one of our coffee go-tos because their mascot is a tiny, freakishly adorable lop-eared rabbit. No. It’s because Prufrock’s mascot is a tiny, freakishly adorable rabbit and because they serve some of the best coffee in town. One of London’s OG serious coffee spots, this place is pretty permanently busy, but given its size and great service, you shouldn’t have to wait for long.
Fare is a casual walk-in spot that does wine by night, pizza by day, and serves as a coffee shop at all times in between. There are high tables, low tables, and a patio out back, and you should know that their coffee is some of the best in the neighbourhood. They also serve pastries and sandwiches.
Dose is small but mighty. Like alsatian puppies. And your addiction to Netflix dating shows. The point is, although this cool spot near Smithfield is pretty tiny, the coffee is great, as is everything else from the brownies to the bunny-shaped tip-jar. If you happen to work in the area - or just happen to really stan early mornings - it’s worth knowing that this place is open from 7am on weekdays.
At Fleet Kitchen in Bloomsbury you’ll find a blackboard full of lunch specials, hobnob cookies, and the kind of lowkey, welcoming atmosphere you’d usually associate with an East End caff. Basically, it’s a bit old school in the best possible way. The coffee here is great and it’s the perfect option if you’re kind of over your morning flat white being accompanied by The XX’s greatest hits.
Kiss The Hippo
This clean and tidy Fitzrovia spot is perfectly located for when you need to escape the crowds on Oxford Street. The coffees - brewed from beans roasted at Kiss The Hippo’s other branch in Richmond - are uniformly excellent, with a special shout out to their pour over options.
Omotesando Koffee started out as a one-man boutique coffee shop but they now have locations in Singapore, Kyoto, across Southeast Asia, and importantly, in Fitzrovia. Decked out in contemporary Japanese pine architecture, grabbing a coffee here feels both relaxing and achingly cool. They have an extensive selection of single origin beans, cold brew options, plenty of matcha on the menu, and their iced cappuccino with bubble milk foam is one of London’s best iced coffees. Heads up, you’re also going to want to get involved in their kashi, a stupidly tasty custard-based snack.
Kaffeine is a popular Australian cafe near Oxford Circus that’s perfect for a coffee to go if you’re in the area. It’s pretty much always mobbed so if you want to sit down you might be in for a wait, but once you get one make sure you also get a slice of banana bread.
Flat White is a Berwick Street stalwart and one of London’s original specialist coffee shops. It’s always friendly, it’s always busy, and it should definitely be your destination when you’re strolling around in this part of Soho.
Hopper is a tiny and friendly coffee shop off the Gray’s Inn Road in Bloomsbury that’s perfect for a grab and go when you’re in the area. Don’t expect to sit down, it’s not that kind of place, but they do sell soups and sandwiches to go, as well as the usual baked stuff.
Rosslyn Coffee on the corner of Queen Victoria Street in the City isn’t somewhere you’re going to want to linger for long. It’s the kind of place you’re going to stand and drink while reading the financial pages that they pin to the walls every day. Yes, it might be cramped. And yes, they might play fairly awful four-on-the-floor music some of the time. But, they also serve the best coffee in the City.
Jolene is a charming all-day café and bakery on Newington Green that you kind of never want to leave. It’s spacious, comfortable, and light, meaning it’s perfect for a coffee date, breakfast, or even to camp out with your laptop and get some work done.
North London’s Crouch End isn’t short of coffee shops, but this is our pick of the bunch. It keeps long hours, the coffee is always great, and while the bench seats at the front are perfect for when you’re just stopping in for a quick coffee and pastry, or to read for a while, the glasshouse area at the back has plenty of space and is far more comfortable when you want to spread out.
While Fink’s first spot is on the other side of Blackstock Road and is a big, homely, corner situation, Fink’s Gillespie, just down the street from Arsenal tube is an all-green slip of a spot. It serves the great the same quality coffee though, alongside a simplified menu of pastries, toast, granola, grain bowls
Caravan is a restaurant, bar and coffee roastery at Granary Square in King’s Cross serving some pretty good coffee in an enormous space. Not only do they have extensive restaurant seating, but there’s a huge area at the back reserved for coffee drinkers and laptop workers. As well as serving food all-day, you should know that it also stays open until 10.30pm everyday except Sunday, so it’s ideal for a post-dinner coffee.
Loft Coffee is 30 seconds away from the platforms at Finchley Road tube station, which only goes part of the way to explaining why they have a constant flow of customers. The other reasons are that it’s comfortable, the coffee is great, and whenever you’re here, you’ll be wondering whether you should stick around a little bit longer and get one of their excellent scrambled egg and bacon brioche buns.
Greenberry Café is the Primrose Hill spot we’d eat in all the time if we lived in one of those pastel-coloured houses the neighbourhood’s famous for, but it’s equally a good place to come for a coffee after a walk in the park.
If you think you’re serious about coffee because you once had a proper cup of Nespresso, then prepare yourself. Because this place in Coal Drops Yard is on another level when it comes to state-of-the-art machinery, expensive coffee tasting, and various brewing methods. Given the meticulous - and at times, mildly hilarious - way this coffee is made (and then served to you like it’s the elixir of life), this spot is much more suited to a sit-down situation where you can watch the ‘cafelier’ practice their ‘coffeenomy’ and yes, enjoy their arguably excellent coffee. Expect big prices.
Pophams is either an Islington coffee spot that bakes in house, or an Islington bakery that also serves coffee. Whichever way you want to put it, their coffee is excellent and their baked stuff even better. It’s on a quiet corner off the Essex Road, and has a tidy little terrace out front, so it’s a great place to head for if you’re trying to impress someone with your good taste and decent knowledge of London’s backstreets.
Esters is a great spot for coffee in Stoke Newington as long as you don’t go on a weekend between 11am and 1pm, because you’ll probably join the back of a 15 minute queue for one of their innovative brunches.
Don’t mistake this tiny coffee shop next to Harringay railway station for a commuter stop. Sure, you can grab a takeaway cup for the ride from this leafy north London hilltop to the City, but you’d be missing out. What you should really do is squeeze in around the single triangular table and get involved with a different side of London, one where strangers become friends over good coffee and excellent toasted crumpet sandwiches.
Lanark is an adult shoebox-sized coffee shop on the Hackney Road doing two very nice things. The first is its toasties: soggy, crispy, ruin-your-favourite-white-t-shirt things, filled with cheese and kimchi and other things you want to carelessly stuff into your mouth. The second, is that it talks to people. Everyone in here chats. Not just “hey, how are you” but actually, like, talks. In London. Bizarre, we know. Anyway, come for the toasties and coffee, and stay for the chat.
You can get Allpress coffee from countless spots around London, but their two-storey Dalston Lane coffee shop and restaurant is the mothership. Not only is there a coffee lab where you can learn all kinds of nerdy things, they also have a spacious and secluded patio which is perfect for when the sun is shining.
Climpson and Sons is a busy coffee shop on Broadway Market that’s pretty much always busy. At weekends it’s almost impossible. It’s worth it though. The coffee is some of the best in town and you’ll be the envy of east London if you can actually nab a seat. Know that if you can’t face the queue, they also have a stall down the street where the wait might be shorter.
With its huge windows, spacious Wilton Way coffee spot Footnote feels very bright and public. It’s the perfect kind of place to meet for a low-key coffee date with a person you’ve never met before, and if things go well you can hang around for brunch which runs from familiar options like avocado on toast, through to less common but equally tasty pico de gallo on sourdough.
What % Arabica lacks in seats, it makes up for in style. This Kyoto-import on Broadway Market serves excellent espresso based drinks, as well as pour over. It also offers a pretty good party trick in which you pick a bean and they’ll roast a bag of it in your preferred style while you wait.
Ozone is mostly known for its coffee, and rightly so - they make some of the best in London. You might not know that their enormous Shoreditch spot serves some pretty great food from early till late making it as good for a quick coffee stop as it is for a bit of solo working, a working breakfast or a quick evening bite.
Just like at their original Shoreditch spot, Ozone Bethnal Green serves great coffee and an all-day breakfast. It’s bright and fresh and has about eight menu sections meaning it’s perfect for all times of day, and all tastes.
Follow the trail of shoppers and locals grasping coffee cups on Redchurch Street and you’ll end up at Allpress Espresso Bar. It’s one of the original and best Kiwi coffee shops in Shoreditch, has a minimal and cool feel, and even serves a bit of food, like toasted sandwiches and eggs and soldiers.
Pophams Hackney is a warehouse-like café and bakery in, wait for it, Hackney. It’s the kind of place you pop in for a simple coffee and pastry and then, come the evening, you start eyeing up their evening menu and consider swapping out your bacon and maple for fresh pasta and wine.
We’re not going to lie to you. We have a pretty serious crush on Climpson’s nitro coffee. Their industrial-looking kiosk at Old Spitalfields Market is just as serious about their coffee as their cafe on Broadway Market, so expect a carefully curated drinks menu, excellent espresso, and seasonal single origin filter coffee. By the way, there’s also espresso martini and coffee beer on tap.
This Asian-influenced café on Dalston Lane has a colourful aesthetic and a Horrors-filled soundtrack. It’s perfect for a coffee and a snack with a friend, or for a coffee while doing some work and also deciding that you’d be enjoying your work a whole lot more if you were eating kaya toast soldiers and an onsen egg.
Brickwood is a cosy coffee shop opposite Clapham Common tube station that’s excellent for pitching up in for a few hours, if need be. During the week it feels like a (non-overwhelming) working space, thanks to the cheery table service and the different people doing different things dipping in and out. Though upstairs is a little competitive, there’s always down if natural light isn’t your thing. Coffee-wise it’s pretty good, and there’s a load of freshly baked bread and pastries, as well as a brunch-ish menu too.
Monmouth Borough Market is a popular coffee shop in Borough. It’s the perfect place around the market for coffee and a light bite. Arrive here in the morning or mid-afternoon if you want to avoid the peak times queues.
Shad Thames is that street next to Tower Bridge with those iron walkways that you know off Instagram. It can get a bit full of tourists round here, but Watch House is a slick, comfortable spot that attracts locals too. If you’re just stopping in for coffee, you’ll be probably be sitting at the front counter area rather than the large comfortable tables at the back, but the service is snappy and friendly, and the coffee is some of the best in this part of town.
This Battersea sun trap serves the kind of coffee that it’s worth crossing London for. They do all the usual espresso drinks, as well as signatures like palawan honey latte, and barako coffee, a distinctive flavoured bean from the Philippines. Their pastries are also on point with options like the bibingka (a rice muffin baked and served in a banana leaf) and cassava cakes making a welcome change from croissants.
Stir Coffee is a Brixton Hill spot that has both the cute factor in the form of a tiny black dog that sleeps under one of their rustic bookshelves, and what we like to define as the catch-up factor. Basically, it’s a great place to hit up for a casual chat with a mate, getting some work done, or simply grabbing a drink on the move.
Lab is short for labrador, but it’s also short for laboratory. So, it’s no surprise that Black Lab is the kind of coffee shop that serves stuff out of beakers and whatnot. Chemistry groupie-ing aside, this spot in Clapham is a very relaxed and comfortable choice if you want to hang out and catch up with some friends out front, upstairs, or downstairs.
Black Cab Coffee Co is an ultra-modern feeling coffee shop in the rapidly changing development at Nine Elms. It’s a comfortable and airy spot, and if you spend five minutes there you’ll probably see a dozen regulars pop in and out for their coffee. If you spend longer you should dive into their all-day breakfast menu. The eggs benedict is particularly good.
Coleman Coffee Roasters near Waterloo is that perfect-looking coffee shop that you might accidentally get talking to a stranger in. You’ll become firm friends over your shared love of terrazzo, smooth espresso, and Vichy Catalan sparkling water. You might also share something from their selection of pastries, sweet things, and snacks. Warning: if you’re planning this kind of scenario you should know that they close at 3pm.
Flotsam and Jetsam is a cute neighbourhood café on Wandsworth Common that gets pretty busy, so if you’re rolling with a gang you might not find space. Inside there’s an airy feel, but our choice when the sun is shining is to grab one of their bench seats out front.
Old Spike is part roastery, part coffee shop, and part social enterprise, working to train and offer meaningful employment to homeless people. It’s also the best place in Peckham for coffee. It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s perfect if you’re on your way up to Peckham Rye, or either before or after you’ve eaten at Mr Bao across the road.
When you’ve had your fill of icily distant baristas, latte art, and the kind of tastefully bland music that soundtracks most London coffee shops, Scooter Caffè near Waterloo is the place for you. This converted motorcycle garage is dusty and distressed, and is filled with old Italian posters, many of which feature nuns riding scooters, obviously. It plays excellent music - mostly from the 1950s, has a cute little patio, serves pretty good coffee and is open late into the night when it takes on more of a dive bar feel.
We’re entirely on board with the sentiment of F. Mondays and we’re entirely on board with this Brixton spot’s coffee too. Cool and casual, this place has a pretty impressive collection of miniature cacti inside, but our favourite thing about this place is out back: their cute hidden garden.
Fun fact: iconic 2013 hit Timber by Pitbull and Kesha was actually inspired entirely by this Camberwell neighbourhood cafe. Okay, it wasn’t. We made that up. But given the amount of timber here, it absolutely should have been. As well as having local artists work for sale on the walls and generally being charming as fuck, this place also does some great light bites. Although it can fill up during peak hours, there’s plenty of extra space downstairs.
What The Watch House in Bermondsey lacks in size it makes up for in character. In fact, if it isn’t London’s most charismatic coffee spot then we have no idea what is. It has a roaring fire, great sandwiches and pastries, an excellent espresso bar, and - as its name suggests - is housed in a converted 19th century guard’s shelter on the edge of a graveyard. It’s also open till 6pm which is a good two hours later than most cafés we know.
Dark Habit is a stylish and calm coffee shop in Queens Park. Seating is limited and it can get quite busy during peak times, but for most of the day you’ll easily find space at one of their larger tables, or at the window. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours, partly because of the great quality coffee, and partly because of the excellent soundtrack.
Café Tangerine is a simple, slightly kitsch café inside the French Institute that’s also home to Ciné Lumière. Yeah, that’s right. It’s called culture, look it up. Although you won’t find any spectacular brewing methods here, it’s a super useful spot to keep in mind when you’re in Kensington and everywhere is absolutely rammo. Plus, they have fresh madeleines and some decent light lunch options.
Quality coffee options around Westminster are fairly limited, but Formative is a slick spot in the base of a new build at the station end of Victoria Street and it’s perfect for when you’re in the area and want a proper cup of something. It’s also a pretty good spot if you’ve got a bit of work to do.
This spacious but slightly scruffy sliver of a coffee spot is in the shadow of the Hammersmith flyover. As well as serving excellent coffee and an all-day menu, it also stays open late when there’s a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo around the corner.
Lowry and Baker is a homely little café in Portobello Road that serves breakfast and brunch on some cute vintage-type crockery, along with cakes and other sweet things. It’s a casual neighbourhood spot, so if you’re just getting coffee at the weekend, know that it’s going to be busy and you’ll probably have settle for a takeaway situation. If you want to sit down, go during the week.
Vardo is a striking and spacious spot in Chelsea with huge windows facing directly onto the King’s Road. It’s as perfect for a coffee date as it is for a solo drink and some people watching, and if you’re in the mood for something warm and comforting, and you’re a fan of cinnamon, try their golden spiced milk. If you want to say for hours you can do that too, because it’s also an all-day restaurant.
Despite sounding like the greatest detective duo that have ever lived, Fernandez and Wells is actually your classic, indie-look coffee spot. Five minutes from all of the big museums in South Kensington, the coffee is a single-origin situation, and although their tall stools can be particularly butt-numbing, there are lots of plugs and some hidden seating around the corner from the till.
Greenspeares is the lazy kind of residential cafe that feels immune to one espresso squatters and plug point politics. It’s a ten minute stroll from Knightsbridge tube and, if you’re looking to peacefully set up shop for a few hours, or for a catch-up in their loung-like downstairs, then this is the place. The coffee’s decent and there are a load of salad-y options and freshly baked cakes too.
If you’ve ever been craving a great cup of coffee (and perhaps some peace and quiet) while in Westfield White City, you should know that no such thing exists. You can get a great cup of coffee at Barino though. It’s outside John Lewis and provides about as quiet a corner as you’ll find in this vortex of commerce. Don’t expect peace, but you should know that their small selection of pastries will keep you sane until you find some.
Granger and Co is an Australian all-day restaurant in Notting Hill. They serve food, but it’s a great spot for a coffee date or breakfast. They have a walk-in policy so if you go at peak-times you might have to wait little bit. Little may or may not be an understatement.
The area around High Street Kensington is a bit chain-y, so it’s worth taking a ten minute walk down to Hjem if you’re after a seriously good cup of coffee. This Danish café at Launceston Place is in one the prettiest corners of London and it doesn’t let the corner down. There’s a bench for two out front, but it’s also worth knowing that there’s a tiny and kind of secret patio out back.
If you like Farrow and Ball paint shades and a bit of foliage with your coffee, then Swallow next to Goldhawk Road station has got you covered. This is a bright and spacious corner spot with lots of seating and a selection of sandwiches made to order from 9:30 every day. They also serve beer and wine from noon, which is our idea of a really good coffee shop.