03 Jun

Get Caffeinated With the Best Coffee Shops in London

Though most people think of tea when thinking of London, the capital City is not lacking in artisanal and delicious coffee ! Below is our guide that will ensure a great caffeine kick before embarking on a great London Walking tour.

Attendant Coffee

The first Attendant Coffee opened in a subterranean gentleman’s toilets in Fitzrovia, serving expertly-made coffees using the café’s own-roast beans. If you’re keen on novelty and quirk, this flagship is the Attendant to visit, but it’s especially tiny even by central London standards, and so we recommend heading east to the Shoreditch branch. Set on Great Eastern Street, the light-filled, Victorian-inspired space has plants hanging from the ceiling, a green-tiled bar, copper light fixtures and loads of space to spread out. Pair your flat white with something from the food menu: the banana bread is toasted and topped with sticky berry and elderflower compote and creamy maple and vanilla mascarpone. Come on a weekday for a chilled-out coffee-while-you-work vibe, or on weekends for a buzzier brunch


Tucked away on a quiet lane off frenetic Old Street, Origin is where Shoreditch’s true coffee devotees go for their daily brew. The shop is typically East-London sleek, with concrete floors and clean lines, but there’s a rarer neighbourhood feel to it and the baristas greet many people by name. The coffee itself is a ritual, produced with the sort of care that means you’ll never be served a bad cup. In an area replete with great coffee shops, this is one of the best, offering a precious break from the busyness of London life.


Prufrock Coffee 

Prufrock were dominating the artisan coffee game way before #latteart was a thing. The coffee here has won awards, and the extensive menu goes beyond espresso-based drinks – there’s also a lovingly curated list of filter coffees on offer at the brew bar which changes its menu weekly. The almond croissant is very good, and if you’re stopping for brunch, try the Field Mushrooms with aioli and Graceburn cheese. To drink: the iced filter coffee is always worth ordering, weather be damned.

Coffee Shop London

There’s no sign outside of this Kingsland Road coffee shop. In the summer, they throw open the windows so that East London hipsters spill onto the street. In the winter, on the weekends, the cosy, slightly ramshackle café fills up quickly. The interiors are eclectic: there are doors with stripped-back paint nailed to the walls, vintage TVs and radios on the shelves and neon script signs plonked on the office-style cabinets which are dotted about at random. The coffee is quite exceptionally good, and the food menu includes fresh toasted croissants, and a long list of toasties from simple (cheese and onion) to posh (smoked duck with fig and ricotta).

E5 Bakehouse
Sure, the in-house-roasted coffee is appropriately punchy. But really, you’re here to ogle the brilliant selection of treats to have with your afternoon caffeine hit: British bakewell; Scandi cinnamon swirls; chocolate-drizzled coconut macarons. Behind the glass-fronted counter you can see the bakers at work; they’ve been up since sunrise hand-making batch after batch of sourdough bread. Don’t leave without picking up a crusty Hackney Wild country loaf to take home.


The Towpath Cafe 
We love a place that refuses to serve coffee in wasteful takeaway cups. The setting right on the canal is very peaceful – watch a family of swans or a chugging narrowboat drift by – and the food is delicious, cooked up in a tiny kitchen just a few feet from the water. The oozy grilled cheese sandwich comes with tangy quince jelly, the fried eggs are topped with dukka.

Flying Horse Coffee 
This indoor market in Hackney is one of a flurry of new food halls that’s arrived in the city in the past few years. Inside, it’s one of the prettiest spots in this largely industrial part of town: there’s black and white tiled floors, turquoise tiles, huge plants in terracotta pots dotting the floor and a neon ‘Liquor Store’ sign hovering over a floor-to-ceiling bottle shop. Settle in to caffeinate with Flying Horse Coffee, the in-house roastery and order a super-smooth, Melbourne style flat white. If you’re on the go, there’s a hole in the wall to grab a stride-by latte, and if the weather’s good, there’s seating outside. Grab a croissant from Mare Street Market’s deli or a bunch of sunny tulips from indie florist Rebel Rebel, which occupies the space opposite.


For nearly a decade Caravan has been the linchpin of foodie hub Exmouth Market, pouring Antipodean-style coffee for Londoners (and delighted Kiwi expats) long before the trend caught on. Every cup is treated with care, with every possible step taken to achieve the best flavour – from beans lovingly laboured over in the café’s own roastery to meticulously measured serves. Its success has seen Caravan pop up in several other spots around London over the years (most recently King’s Cross and Fitzrovia) but the Exmouth Market original remains a firm favourite. Visit on a clear-skied day when happy punters fill the tables that spill out onto the sun-dappled pedestrianised street.


Ozone Coffee 
This East London coffee roastery has been around since 1998, making it one of the best-established spots on the relatively new artisan coffee scene. The Shoreditch headquarters come with a hipster-friendly sign (‘coffee’, with a big arrow, spray painted in white onto the brick wall next to the door) and baristas clad in denim aprons. But their beans supply some of London’s finest cafés (including Mud and But First Coffee, which both feature on this list), and the knowledgeable staff pull some of the best espresso shots in the city – not just a pretty face, then, but a brilliant place for a caffeine hit at one of the original coffee greats.


Brunswick East
Aussie Brunswick East is hipster heaven. There’s homemade cashew milk and vegan-friendly Nutella on the menu, and a yoga/brunch combo that teams up with yoga studio Yoke each Sunday to tempt Dalston’s hungover millennials out of bed. Tucked away on a quiet courtyard with local art on the walls and a bookshop inside, the cakes are homemade, and the baristas expertly serve up Alchemy coffee.


Wilton Way
This tiny white-washed café in the original hipster HQ has its own radio station, it’s that cool. And when the crowd is mostly Antipodean, you know it has good coffee too (locally roasted Climpsons & Sons). Tables are upcycled from old greengrocers’ crates and works by local artists brighten up the walls. Start the day with a dip in London Fields lido then come here for a crispy-bacon bap and a long black.

Clerkenwell Grind
Since the very first Grind opened on Old Street roundabout in 2011, the powerhouse London coffee group has added eight more cafés to its empire. All have the same stripped-back, LA-worthy interiors, plus ever-changing witty letter-board signs outside, neon script on the walls and white granite bars. Our favourite is Clerkenwell Grind, just round the corner from the original Shoreditch Grind. It’s a revamped warehouse; inside, walls are grey concrete and table tops are white marble, with millennial pink velvet seating running along one wall. The coffee shop is split into a café, where you can settle in with a coffee or a juice, and a restaurant, where brunch classics are served. In the evening, the café becomes a bar (they do really good Espresso Martinis) and the Wi-Fi is turned off, meaning agile-workers take their MacBooks elsewhere and the area’s cool crowd.


Workshop Coffee
The coffee itself, rather than the shop, is the thing here. Aiming to create the best possible brew available each year, Workshop pushed our caffeine habit to addiction when we subscribed to its delivery service to receive an always satisfying surprise bag through the door every month. Each one arrived with a neat postcard showing where our coffee had hailed from, detailing the place and people behind it, from Rwanda to El Salvador and Brazil to Ethiopia. The central London shop, one of five Workshops in London, is more of a stop-and-hop sort of joint but there is a communal space out back, bordered by benches and with a library vibe, should you fancy some quiet time with your cup and a book. By Becky Lucas


Omotesando Coffee 
This Fitzrovia coffee shop is no typical third-wave spot. It’s the latest addition to Eiichi Kunitomo’s group of cafés, which he started as a one-man operation in Tokyo in 2011. Offshoots have since popped up in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore – and now, for the first time, Europe. The minimalist space has to be one of the most Zen places to get a caffeine hit in central London. Inside, there are concrete walls and stripped-back wooden surfaces with room for a handful of people to perch and people-watch, and a cubic counter sitting smartly in the centre, where you can take a seat and chat to your barista about precisely how you’d like your coffee made.

Best Coffee Shops London


The Gentleman Baristas 
This indie family of coffee shops has grown quickly since it began in Southwark in 2014, opening branches in Fitzrovia, super-cool South London spots Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard and out east in Poplar. But our favourite is still the second outpost, in Borough, just a few quiet streets away from the chaos of Borough Market. Behind the smart green façade are two cosy rooms with lots of exposed brick, a chalkboard menu and fresh pastries towering on the counter. Grab a table in the back and order a coffee – made using the Gentlemen Baristas’ own beans, which come in six single-origin options from Brazilian to Kenyan – and a slice of thick sourdough toast slathered in housemade peanut butter  


F Mondays 
The queue of commuters at F Mondays’ truck every morning (no, not just Mondays!) is filled with bleary-eyed customers, led to the counter by their noses before they’ve even realised what they’re doing. Recently, an Australian friend from Melbourne recommended the Brixton café as her favourite coffee spot in the area – high praise indeed, coming from someone who hails from one of the world’s coffee capitals. The baristas at both the truck (on Windrush Square) and the shop (at 112A Brixton Hill) are impossibly smiley for 8am, high on espresso and the gratification of handing out magic cups of bean juice, brainpower and giant pain au chocolat.


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