31 of the Best Coffee Shops in London (Don’t Miss These)
If you’re getting ready to visit London and worry that you’ll be stuck with tea and crumpets, think again.
The locals can’t survive the bitter, cold days of winter and the long, dreary days of summer without their own brand of caffeine coursing through their veins.
Take along a list to guide you, making sure you know where to look when you enter the gritty city of fame, and keep it on hand when the energy level starts to drop from wandering through the millions of sights to see.
Here are a few places worth visiting to get you started on your journey.
#1 Roxy Coffee House — The Sisters’ Dreams Come True
The recipe at Roxy Coffee Shop consists of great brew, great food, and three sisters who take pride in their service. Customers aren’t just regulars — they are friends of the Roxy Girls, and they come for the food, stay for the companionship.
The shop has been around since the 80s, but it’s grown beyond the original Terminus Street locale. The new, bigger shop is located in Chamberlain Square in Berea and touts the beauty of the sisters’ artwork. Stop in for breakfast, but be prepared for a crowd — this is a popular place for poached eggs!
#2 Crowds and Comfort — The Cambridge Street Café
Located in the artistic and personable hotel known as The Artist Residence, the Cambridge Street Café offers a view of the chefs in the kitchen for your entertainment as well as fabulous dishes. Moreover, hotel patrons and locals alike stop in with interest and chatter to have a cup of java in this fashionable restaurant.
The bar and tables alike invite you to sit down and enjoy some risotto or other fare on the menu, but simply relaxing and people watching with your coffee is my recommendation.
#3 Always Something New with Tina. We Salute You
Every time you enter this quaint little coffee spot in Dalston, you walk into a new place. In fact, you may think you’ve come to the wrong location if you haven’t been in two months. That’s because the décor changes, the walls cleared and repainted with a theme by a local artist, though the delicious coffee remains the same.
What better way to discover new talent by displaying a new talking piece that keeps patrons coming back over and over? Then again, come to think of it, the coffee is good enough to do that on its own!
#4 Bow Down to BAO
Need a little zen in your life? Whether you’re looking for an infusion of caffeine to rival a shot of adrenaline or a calming tea, this little beauty offers what you need. Traditional British style combined with an Asian-infused theme make for a Feng Shui environment with an overwhelming sense of comfort in the midst of chaos.
Don’t be confused, though — meditation is an atmospheric impression here, but the place bubbles over with clientele several times a day! The spot is popular and in a high-traffic area, giving you the best balance of inner peace and outer social interaction.
#5 Magazines and Mugs
Located on Chiltern Street, Monocle Café is a spin-off from the magazine and offers some of the best roasts in town. The small café has a hipster vibe, but the offerings pack a big punch. Aside from delicious coffee blends and teas (for those true Englishmen who adhere to the classic ideals), try their sandwiches and the elegant patisserie with some of the most delectable baked goods around.
Be sure to pick up the latest issue of Monocle Magazine and browse while you’re there – they keep them around for your perusing pleasure!
#6 Where’s the Loo, Mate?
Consider that some coffee shops are as much a “destination café” as a place to find the ultimate cup of joe. The Attendant is both. This small café is set in a restored Victorian loo, making it a tourist attraction as well as a great place to get great coffee.
It’s been cared for in loving fashion, and you’ll find amazing breakfasts and light lunches available as well. Take a class on brewing from one of their experts to complete your experience, and you can brag to your friends about how you went to the loo for your coffee!
#7 A Place for True Worshipers — Taylor Street Baristas
When was the last time you sat on a church pew? If you said Sunday, you’re a devout being, but undoubtedly you weren’t enjoying a stiff cup of coffee while you sat there. With nine locations, Taylor Street Baristas (named for their first location) offers a unique experience — and what reviewers claim is the sweetest, creamiest cappuccino around.
If you become a regular, there is a board where you can have your picture added. But don’t get arrogant — the baristas decide if you’ve earned the right, not you! Stop in and say a prayer of thanks for incredible coffee and camaraderie.
#8 A Bright Light on a Cloudy Day — Hally’s Café
London is known for rainy, dull weather and cloudy skies. It’s considered a bit of a grumpy city compared to, say, San Francisco. Thus the need to stay bright and chipper with coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
Enter Hally’s Café: set deep in the upscale (to say the least) Parsons Green area, this brilliant sun-inspired shop is California style in the midst of the grit of the Londoner’s life. Raw wood, pastel colors, and a light, friendly atmosphere make Hally’s a perfect place for a pick-up when you get a little long in the face and wet behind the ears…and between the toes.
#9 Store Street Espresso — Indie Done Right
Store Street’s vibe is relaxed with low volume background music creating an inviting ambience. Even better is how the location makes use of as much natural lighting as you can get anywhere in London, making it a perfect spot to read. Fancy designs on the coffee dress it up, but the flavor is good on its own.
Enjoy a chat or get some work done while you enjoy a cup…or two. You might find yourself wanting to stay the day, especially if it’s brighter inside than out. If you get hungry, there are great cakes and small portion foods to enjoy as well.
#10 The Espresso Room — Where Tiny is Good
You don’t order giant shots of espresso, and likewise, you don’t need a huge shop to get great coffee. And you don’t need a large selection to attract loyal customers. The Espresso Room is just what it says it is — a little place with a brief menu of incredible, mostly espresso-based drinks.
You can also find sweets and small sandwiches for your culinary delight. While it seems like a hole in the wall with little promise, just remember that good things come in small packages, and the locals will agree when it comes to this particular fan favourite.
#11 Practically Perfect Product
One of London’s leading micro roasters, Nude Espresso corners the market for coffee bars with a blend of ingredients, only one of which is amazing coffee. Enjoy the staff, which is accommodating and easy to talk to, and catch the vibe with the very specific clientele and the excellent music.
The location in Shoreditch is large enough to offer plenty of seating even in the busiest times but still small enough to feel cozy. There is another location in Soho, and either one can be counted on for a practically perfect cup of coffee to start off your day!
#12 East London Provincial
Look for the Tiffany-blue exterior and you’ll find this little gem in the midst of several quaint independent businesses. Café Pistou is a great place to savor a small but delightful breakfast dish with a cup of java to start the day off right. But don’t worry — you can pick up your caffeine infusion throughout the day, too.
Enjoy the surrounding area, including a greenhouse where you can dine, and stop in one more time for a cup of to-go as you head back to the inner city for the rest of your stay in London.
#13 Oui, Oui, Monsieur!
Coffee is considered an Italian speciality, but when you look to other cultures, you’ll find a great many variations on the traditional mug. Take the French, who tend to dress everything up and often sweeten it.
While it may look like any other café to the naked eye, Patisserie Deux Amis is anything but standard. The bakery is top notch with some of the best French pastries in all of London. And what is a good, sweet cake without a perfect cup of coffee to go with it? You can get a taste of Paris while visiting London just by stepping inside.
#14 Jack the Ripper and Coffee Sippers
No visit to London would be complete without a jaunt into the iconic Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper’s killing spree occurred nearly 150 years ago. But brace yourself for the tour with a boost of caffeine at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.
Offering subscription coffee, a school for enthusiasts, and much more, this location has grown almost as famous as its locale in the past few years. What better way to emulate the past than to watch the crowds go by and discuss the latest headline news (even if it’s not about a serial murderer on the loose!)
#15 Ground Control to Major Tom
Aside from a name that inspires thoughts of the late, great David Bowie, Ground Control is one of those cafés known best for the “prettiness” of its coffee. Located on Amwell Street in Clerkenwell, the “coffee art” is eclectic and better than some of the actual art in museums.
On any given day, you’ll find a design on top of your brew to rival the best street and professional artwork in the world. And beneath that dressed-up appearance excellent coffee to make it all worthwhile. Go twice or more — you’ll end up with a different image to ponder each time with consistent great taste.
#16 Burgers and Goose Fat?
London’s Borough Market is a place for all things fun, savory, odd, exciting, and…well, just all things. Go and buy goose fat. Yes, goose fat, bottled for your use. Grab a burger on the go while you shop for fresh produce, lavender, and other items in this enormous, busy, and eclectic farmer’s market.
But don’t forget to grab your coffee, or you’ll run out of steam before you get all the way through. It’s a great way to spend a full day, browsing and trying new things, and buying something to commemorate the trip!
#17 Pampered and Percolated
A cup of coffee is a treat for a lot of people, but imagine if you could get the VIP red-carpet treatment while enjoying a cup of coffee. Consider it done at Barber & Parlour. The space is inviting to start with, and the coffee is to die for.
But while you consume your caffeine, attend to some much-needed “you time” and opt for a manicure, a beard trim (hopefully for men only), and other options to tickle your fancy. You’ll know you’ve found heaven, and there’s no question you’ll never want to turn back.
#18 Renovation Sensation
Once a vacant shambles, the Old Truman Brewery in East London has been rehabilitated by businesses, retail shops, arts and crafts dealers, and more. It’s a thriving area that has undergone serious rebuilding and remodelling, a project that took the better part of two decades.
And right along with restaurants and other vendors, you’ll find some of the best coffee in town. Try the brew at Café 1001, or grab a cup in one of the many bars and restaurants that add a busy nightlife aspect to this popular area of town. Take it along while you shop to keep you going longer.
#19 “Fantastic Food” in a “Cozy Spot”
Visit the famous Notting Hill for the shopping, the beauty, and the coffee. Reviews for Lowry and Baker are great, as they should be. Not only can you find good food and good coffee here, but it’s also located on the well-known Portobello Road, where you can find everything you’ll ever need if you stroll from one end to the other.
You’ll find a good-sized crowd throughout the day, as this is probably the most popular shop on the block. And if you’re lucky, you’ll run into Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant while you’re there!
#20 Catch Me If You Can
Some of the locations for great coffee are a bit different, forcing you to seek them out specifically. This is the story of the pop-up coffee service experience of NANA, which literally pops up every day between 10 am and 3 pm at the Elderfield Pub in East London.
Say hello to an older generation and make a new friend while sipping some coffee. This specialty coffee service offers elderly and retired people an opportunity to get out there and mingle with customers, having something to keep them connected. And we’re luckier for it, since the service and coffee are both great. Just be sure you’re there to catch it while it lasts, or you may not find it again!
#21 An Outdoor Pleasure
Pop by the Kin Café and have a seat outdoors to chat with your friends or random strangers. The camaraderie is half the joy at this little coffee stop-in. Like many cafés in the area, it’s more about the atmosphere than being in a hurry.
This place reminds you more of the “we’ll get there when it’s time” attitude of London than the “hurry up and get there” motto of New York. Spend a morning or afternoon in good company and leave with a new friend and a bright mind after a jolt of caffeine and a good intellectual discussion.
#22 A Taste of Southeast Asia
Who would have suspected a hidden Vietnamese restaurant that isn’t even a speck on the map would rate a spot in a coffee list? But it does. Because the Little Viet Kitchen — which is truly little — provides big flavor in big portions.
Dine outdoors when it’s not too dreary, and top off a big, filling meal with something sweet and a little Asian coffee. Friendly service makes it even easier to swallow, and you’ll probably want to take away some pudding and a cup of joe to go, just for good measure.
#23 Come for Coffee, Stay for Lunch
Lyle’s in Shoreditch gets rave reviews for food, and it’s a popular luncheon hangout for Londoners. But the separate coffee bar runs all day and is also worth a mention. Even when the kitchen is closed in the morning, you can get a great brew from the dedicated section of the restaurant catering to the caffeine connoisseur.
This coffee guru offers some very well-known roasts as well as a small variety of less-known beans that can really knock your socks off. If you want to try something a little different, this is the place.
#24 Best Bakery and Coffee
Best known for her sweets and baked goodies, Lily Vanilli’s bakery is a wonderful place to stop and take a load off, although you’ll probably leave loaded down with sugar and spice and everything nice. Lily takes her cakes seriously, and she doesn’t serve just any old coffee, either.
After all, being self-taught comes with a lot of trial and error, and when you finally get the recipe right you won’t make any more errors! There is nothing erroneous about Lily’s coffee, and you could spend an afternoon shooting the breeze with a satisfied sweet tooth and a warm belly.
#25 Simple Simon
Simplicity is sometimes the spice to life, as evidenced by this menu. Londoners don’t always feel the need for lavish, elaborate menus with hundreds of gourmet options. When it’s time to reinvigorate, a simple brew will do the job.
And if the locale specializes in one or two of the best roasts available, then the owner doesn’t need to worry about being a crowd pleaser with exciting names or exotic drinks. You’ll find a great many of these small cafés that brew the best coffee you’ll ever taste on either side of the Atlantic!
#26 Hail a Cab!
A unique concept lends itself to Cabbi Coffee, perhaps the most tongue-in-cheek idea for “coffee on the go” I’ve heard. Forget waiting in line at Starbucks, folks. Have your coffee in a cab…ordered in a cab…served by a cabbie?
Cabbi Coffee is incredibly popular and a great way to get that caffeine you’re jonesing for. Brew your cup and keep moving until you’re on your way again. And if you’re just strolling, don’t take too much time perusing and trying to decide on the brew of choice. Just get it and forget it.
#27 Tapas and Javas
What do you get when you blend the intriguing flavors in tapas and add an incredible cup of coffee? You get a fine dining experience at Copita. Just as there have been revivals of all things under the sun, this decade looks like a return of Spanish decadence, and you’ll find a great deal of it here.
But the best part is the espresso and other coffee drinks on the menu, coupled with great meal options. The flavors are vast, and the combinations are the most exotic you’ll find. It’s bound to be your new favorite location.
#28 A True Dining Out Experience
Check out the view at Paper & Cup. Here, you order out by walking in, and then you carry out to dine in, using the picnic-like décor on the patio. It’s an interesting concept no matter how you look at it, and since it’s paired with good food and excellent coffee, it’s worked well for this small shop.
Londoners love nothing more than a day pretty enough to dine outdoors in, and they’ll take it every chance they get. What better activity is there than watching throngs of people flock by while sipping on your midday brew?
#29 Locally Sourced
The new-wave trend in dining has revived using locally sourced ingredients. Flotsam & Jetsam Café proudly features an ever-changing menu centered around using what’s available from local farms and vendors, and they make delicious food with the fresh ingredients.
Best of all, they serve some of the finest roasts in London, complete with an all-day brunch or your pick of pie, cake, or other confectionery delight. The atmosphere is friendly, and the service is stellar, with knowledgeable baristas who understand the lingo and keep up with the latest and greatest.
#30 A Trifecta of Caffeine
With three locations for your convenience, Monmouth Coffee and brewing offers excellence in roasting, hand picking the perfect bean so that the ultimate product is to die for. Try a cup while visiting the Borough Market, or have one in Covent Garden.
There’s also the Bermondsey location, open on Saturday from morning to early afternoon, for your consumption pleasure. These guys are in the know, so take advantage of any opportunity to try their one-of-a-kind brews, sourced from single farms, growers, and co-ops for their unique appeal and a richness that rivals any large provider.
#31 Coffee, Watson?
Who could resist a Sherlock Holmes–themed diner or café? Even if they didn’t serve incredible coffee and tea with cakes and crumpets and other delightfully English fare, you’d have to go just to say you’d been there and to see the décor.
At the Sherlock Holmes Café, you’ll find all of this and more. Chat with locals who are just as obsessed with the detective and his dear friend Watson and discuss the ins and outs with the fanatics who run the joint. I bet they can tell you more trivia and knowledge than you know how to handle!
Like the rest of the world, London has become obsessed with the cheery brew we so lovingly refer to as joe. Java is a delight and perhaps even a work of art for the British, and much like other cities worldwide, the energy level is dependent upon the local roasters and the tiny, almost imperceptible coffee houses littering the streets between the other sole proprietorships and friendly local businesses.
So don’t worry about visiting a new place and not being able to find your infusion of caffeine. There are plenty of excellent choices to brighten your stay in London!