Going to London as an unashamed coffee snob can seem like a daunting task for the caffeine connoisseur, but rest assured, the melting pot of Antipodeans, Europeans and various other international folk are taking matters into their own hands and dishing out some of the world's most cutting edge work from roasting and single origin blends to the perfect pour and latte art to make even Da Vinci proud.
The ‘London Coffee Guide’ and various local coffee guide apps (Coffee: in touch, London's best coffee) now make any trip to London one easily accessible flat white away from Starbucks and towards being a truly local coffee snob. There literally no end to the array of cute little espresso bars, pretentious trendy east London must-be-seen-ats’ and ever emerging chains of niche coffee shops (Workshop, Caravan, Montmouth, and dare I say it, Sacred) that have taken flight since the coffee enlightenment.
But to cut a long and epic story short, this tale of coffee reconnaissance is not about all that, it’s much more personal (which is how our relationship with coffee should be); it’s my top list of favourites from a Londoner in search of an honest and authentic brewing experience.
Having worked at this café for years, I may be a little biased, but Borough Markets has to be a foodies vision of heaven if there ever was one. And sitting on the corner of Park Street is Montmouth Coffee; now a royal institution in the coffee scene. Although nothing new, and with shops in Covent Garden as well as outsourcing their Bermondsey locally roasted beans to various other London cafes, they still create lines of customers for a reason. The passion these guys have from the perfect roast to specially training barristers in their London factory guarantees that the name continues to be held in high esteem. My recommendation would be for the on request single cone brewed filter coffee; it’s an art form come mathematical equation in and of itself. Furthermore, opt for during the week as Saturdays sees Borough Market in full pandemonium, you may have to wait for nearly an hour for your fix.
36 Maltby Street
SE1 3PAT +44(0)20 7232 3010
Every now and again, one finds themselves in the seventh circle of hell known as Covent Garden (which really is only so for those who distain hoards of people / tourists squeezed into small streets usually on a rainy and miserable day with only chain restaurants to turn to), but even so, there is hope in such an over-commercialised touristy area to sit back and chill out like a local. Tucked away beside Seven Dials is a trendy and surprisingly easy-going hideaway called Timberyard. There are but a few dotted around London but this one is the perfect coffee / lunch date / workspace, whilst in central London. The array of fresh café style food and baked goodies will send you into a spin to begin with, however, their quirky barristers serving a wide range of quality specialty coffee is what keeps the locals coming back.
TY Old Street
61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW
TY Seven Dials
7 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9DL
Now when it comes to East London, there are just so many great places worthy of mention. It is like trying to choose your favourite Oceans 11 character, or Ben & Jerry’s flavour or Beyonce song (well you get the gist). But for me, Maison d’Etre is a cute little joint just across from Highbury Islington station in Northeast London. Its quirky vintage styling does not detract from the great menu and simple yet well-made coffee.
154 Canonbury Road
London, N1 2UP
Further just up the road is Vagabond. Well-acquainted with the locals, this place knows its coffee. Although service is sometimes lacking, they make up for it in any of their perfectly poured espresso beverages (I’d opt for the flat white in this case).
59/63 Whitechapel High St
London E1 7PF
105 Holloway Rd
London N7 8LT
20 Osborne Rd
London N4 3SF
And, lastly, back down towards Angel tube station sits The Coffeeworks Project. This young and trendy space is the setting for some determined coffee drinking. Although all involved take the coffee making experience quite seriously, the relaxed feel of the café and knockout espresso combines to create the perfect world away from un-caffeinated mediocrity.
96-98 High Street
Islington, N1 8EG
0207 424 5020
At the end of the day, coffee is personal; coffee is what gets you through a day, treats you after a meeting or brings up the gossip as sipped leisurely with friends. Even for a coffee snob there is such an array of choice in London that it’s about like asking a local their favourite watering hole and giving it a go until you find one that you cant help but revisit time and time again. You now have a few more to add to your list which I am sure will far from disappoint. Happy caffeinating.