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Where to Find the Best Coffee in London

Home > London > Lists | Afternoon Tea | Breakfast | Cafes | Coffee | Food and Wine
by Lani Kingston (subscribe)
food writer & author of best selling books about coffee - f&b consultant - pastrychef - formerly: New York (Blue Hill), London (MAST🍫)now: building craft food brands in Singapore
Published April 5th 2014
By a self-confessed Melbourne Coffee-snob
I'm a self-confessed coffee snob. I am. I'm from Melbourne, Australia and we are known for having some of the best coffee, well, anywhere. I try not to be snobby about it but I am used to world-class baristas making my morning brew - so I have pretty high standards when I travel elsewhere.

There are a few places around the world that I have managed to find a roaster, barista or coffee chain where the coffee lives up to my high expectations. Generally it's one little place, and one particular barista in a barren coffee wasteland - but there are a few places, like Portland, where the coffee generally meets my standards.

London is one of those places - and that's because they are, according to many, the home of technological innovation in the way of espresso. I chatted with one of the head baristas at one of the finer small coffee spots, tucked away in the same store as a gentlemans barber (hipster anyone? not that I am complaining, I've been called hipster many times myself and I appreciate the artisanal back to basics philosophies that have spurred on this movement in gourmet food production). An old Aussie, he has been in London for a while and watched the coffee movement here burgeon.

'London is at the forefront of the coffee revolution - while in Australia excellent coffee is oversaturated - anywhere you go you are certain to get a world-class cup - Londoners are experimental and keen to try many different coffee technologies, whether it be reviving ancient techniques or inventing their own.'

He is right - it's a bit of a search to find a good brew here in London, but when you find the 'spots' you are set. In Melbourne, the espresso rules - whereas here you would be just as likely to find specialty cold-drip, aeropress or filter.

After living in London for a while, in a non-caffeinated craze I've tried out most coffee places on the 'must-try' lists. Here is a compilation of the top 5, with the stamp of approval of an ex-barista, cafe manager, pastry chef coffee snob from Melbourne. They are in no particular order:

5. Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell, Holborn & Marylebone

coffee, workshop, london, cafe, coffeshop, roaster
Workshop Coffee, London

Ok, ok. Some may roll their eyes at me. I can't help it, I know they are Melbourne owned. Workshop is the London venture of St Ali, world-renowned Melbourne coffeehouse. And they are really making waves. With a range of beans with varying origins, they roast right in house at their Clerkenwell spot, with fantastic, greenery-and-brick dominated decor. And the coffee, well it hits the spot.

coffee, workshop, london, cafe, coffeshop, roaster
Workshop Coffee, London

4. Shoreditch Grind, Shoreditch

Another London coffee house that 'is born out of the Melbourne coffee culture where the roast of a bean is debated, discussed and celebrated in the same way as a good wine vintage.' The decor here is rad, with the front almost presenting like an old-school picture-house.

3. Sharps Coffeebar by Dunne Frankowski, Fitzrovia

coffee, sharps, barber, coffeeshop, cafe, london
Sharps Barista, London

Rad, friendly baristas? Check. Strong, well-made coffee? Check. Awesome, hipster decor? Check. Gentlemans barber? Check. Wait, what? The fusion of barber and coffee shop is becoming a fad, and while it sounds odd, it works. The business of the two completely different businesses creates a friendly vibe. While everyone who comes in for a coffee probably won't get a hair cut, at least you can watch the upperclass vintage woollen sweater clad youth get their moustaches trimmed on old-school barbers chairs while you re-caffeinate.

2. Craft Coffee, Shoreditch

bricklane, shoreditch, london, street, market, england
Brick Lane, Shoreditch

Off to the Brick Lane markets or shop in Shoreditch? Pick up a takeaway from this tiny, cute little hole-in-the-wall on your way from the station. They make killer brownies too.

1. No. 67, Peckham

It's a bit of a hike, but make a morning of it. Attached to the South London Gallery, No. 67 makes AMAZING breakfasts, rustic cakes, and a darn-good coffee. Their picnic benches out the front of the old-brick building are a great way to soak up the sun, or out the back in their courtyard garden

At most of these places, you can pick up a curated London Coffee Map. It is an excellent way to see the top coffee spots wherever you are (and they are really pretty too.)

london, coffee, map, coffeehouse, roasters, espresso, england
London Coffee Map

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