Life is too short to drink bad coffee. And luckily, in no small part thanks to the Aussie/ Kiwi style cafes branching out across London, we never have to.
From full bodied flat whites to creamy cappuccinos that promise just the hint of pistachio ice cream, this post shares some of my favourite coffee haunts in central London.
1. Lantana Cafe, Fitzrovia
One of the clearest signs of the Antipodean takeover of London’s coffee culture has to be the proliferation of the flat white, a drink which has gone from relative obscurity to immense popularity in under a decade. One of the best I’ve had is at Lantana, a cheerful and homely Aussie hideaway in Fitzrovia, serving a bespoke blend co-developed with the coffee roaster, Alchemy. A New Zealander, Lantana’s Head of Coffee, Celeste Wong really knows her beans, and with her direction the coffee is bodied yet balanced, with depth and acidity.
In case you’re wondering about the nuances between a flattie and a regular cappuccino or latte (I know, I was), Celeste breaks it down quite simply, explaining that a flat white is essentially “a double espresso with heated, textured milk in a small cup so there isn’t too much milk. The milk needs to be creamy but still thin “flat”. So not as thick as say, a latte which should be milkier.” If your passionate about all things caffeine, then I really can’t recommend her blog, the Girl in the Cafe, enough.
13 Charlotte Place, London W1T 1SN
2. Kaffeine, Fitzrovia
Another Australian-style cafe, many a Londoner have developed a Kaffeine addiction ever since it opened its doors on Great Titschfield Street back in 2009, as the queues even today go to show. It’s small – I prefer my coffee to go – but the atmosphere seems almost electric, no doubt due to all those highly charged Square Mile beans jumping around.
66 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7QJ
3. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Carnaby Street
It’s all in the name. A trendy – some may say, hipster – hangout with granite counter tops and street art decor. Go for the Colombian stargazer beans. The hint of cherry and almonds lends both a sweet and sour taste when had as back coffee, while the sweetness is really enhanced when combined with milk, making for a velvety cappuccino.
3 Lowndes Court, Carnaby Street, W1F 7HD
4. No 193, Soho
In the heart of Soho, TAP’s Wardour Street outpost perpetually buzzing, drawing in coffee enthusiasts by the hordes for the high quality coffee roasted in-store in the Probat at the back. This is a rustic space with skylights running along most of the long length of the ceilings. It’s busy but laid back at the same, making it all-too-easy to stay on for hours too once you’ve bagged a table.
193 Wardour St, London W1F 8ZF
5. Soho Grind, Soho
The all day and late night espresso bar is another Soho favourite for its edgy vibes, not to mention its cracking selection of cocktails and olives served from evening onwards in the small but atmospheric basement area.
19 Beak St, London W1F 9RP
6. Notes Coffee, Trafalgar Square
The independent music store turned coffee shop and wine bar, roast their own coffee – Bokasso espresso beans that lend a deliciously buttery texture to cappuccinos; offer a formidable selection of wines by the glass and bottle; AND host live jazz evenings on a regular basis. If that doesn’t give you enough to reasons to check out this chic cafe off Trafalgar Square, then I don’t know what will.
31 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ER
7. Timberyard, Covent Garden
Cosy armchairs, vintage suitcases for tables, a gorgeous display of locally supplied treats, including a mouthwatering lineup of crodoughs (the best of a croissant and doughnut), and matcha lattes that are by far among the best in London… Quite a lot to love really, about this airy cafe tucked away from the bustle of Covent Garden.
7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9DL
8. Fleet River Bakery, Holborn
In case you were wondering about the conspicuous absence from this list of the Holy Grail that is Monmouth Coffee, it’s because I usually get my fix from Fleet River Bakery, (they use Monmouth’s beans). Queues often spill out and around the corner, with LSE students and nearby office goers alike patiently waiting for their morning fuel and/ or afternoon boost. They usually have a fantastic choice of quiches at lunch too, while the cakes and brownies are just scrummy.
71 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JF
9. Workshop Coffee, Marylebone
Although many remain loyal to Workshop’s original Clerkenwell store (where they still roast all their beans), I’m more than a little partial to their Marylebone coffee bar which stands out as an oasis in the commercial trap that is St. Christopher’s Place. It feels a bit like an industrial (but very approachable) coffee lab here, with a majestic powder-blue synesso at the centre and a very knowledgable team of baristas – conversing with them is definitely an education, while you wait for your coffee. I opt for the Guatemalan La Parroquia beans since you ask, with the promise of a hint of pistachio ice cream – the resulting cappuccino is about as creamy as it gets.
1 Barrett St, Marylebone W1U 1DN
10. Mount Street Deli, Mayfair
This charming cafe on the beautiful Mount Street is one of my favourite places to while away a rare free afternoon in London. Early birds nab the much-sought after tables on the mini terrace, but pulling up a stool by the counters against the big glass windows is just as ideal for a spot of people watching and window shopping, with the likes of Louboutin and Balenciaga just opposite the street. The Deli is part of Sir Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings, so you can expect a selection of soups and small dishes from the nearby kitchens of 34 and Scott’s, not to mention the incredibly rich and decadent chocolate cake from Annabel’s club in Berkley Square. It always goes down a treat with a cup of strong Volcano coffee.
100 Mount Street, London W1K 2TG
What about you guys? Do spill the beans on your favourites in the comments below!