Quality coffee, creative cakes, and friendly baristas
Fortunately for coffee aficionados, London is the city of unique shops found no where else in the world. Scouring the streets of London for the best of the best reveals so many excellent choices, but the following make the top of the list solely based on quality of coffee and the unique character of the shop.
Flat white is the name for an Australian/New Zealand-inspired coffee of strong espresso mixed with foamy steamed milk (similar to a latte), usually finished with an artistic design. As with most antipodean coffee shops, this place has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, as well as a loyal following of local expats. Flat White has recently opened a sister café, Milkbar, near Shaftesbury Avenue. Both venues are perfect for Londoners who love strong coffee and a laid-back attitude.
Kaffeine is an always busy shop near Oxford Street. The excellent coffee complemented by a great selection of homemade cakes are worth the long wait. The baristas handle the crowds with ease and are full of specialty knowledge if you get the chance to speak with them. It's not usually a place to linger, but if you're lucky to get a table it's a good place to watch the world go by at least for a few minutes.
Kaffeine 66 Great Titchfield Street Fitzrovia W1W 7QJ 020 7580 6755
Prufrock is owned by the 2009 UK and World Barista Champion, Gwilym Davies, which means coffee is taken seriously at this shop. It is also the centre of the London BRAT (Barista Resource and Training), which offers private instruction, group classes, and a Saturday School dedicated to teaching the recipes and artistry behind a perfect cup of coffee. With this amount of preparation it's no wonder the baristas at this shop produce some of the best tasting coffees in London and possibly the world.
Winner of the Independent Café of the Year award in 2010, Nude Espresso sets the standard for freshness and quality products. The café offers several signature drinks developed at their own London roastery and a large selection of scones, muffins, cakes, and sandwiches. The owners describe their shop as 'a combination of New Zealand ingenuity and a large dash of East End playfulness'. It's the kind of place you wish was down the street from your own neighbourhood.
From its rustic wooden floors and tables to the tall, bright windows, this shop knows how to create a comfortable environment. Popular as a second office and as a place to catch up with friends, there's a sense that many regulars stay all day in this amiable space. Its proximity to busy Oxford Street means that there's sometimes a wait for tables, but the friendly baristas, delicious coffees, and choice of creative cakes makes it well worth a visit. Tweet them or send an email with useful feedback and you could win £30 worth of free coffee.