Nude Espresso

Nude Espresso in Soho and Shoreditch are probably the best cafes in London. Prufrock and others may have great coffee, but Nude seem to always have the right mix of staff, music, interiors, clientele and vibe. Nude Shoreditch is my idea of the perfect cafe. Big enough to find a seat at any hour, but small enough to feel local. Consistently good coffee and a great ambiance. But this review focusses on my most frequented cafe in London, Nude Soho.

Nude Espresso Flat White
The Mocha, Flat White and Latte from Nude in Soho are excellent.

When I was working in Soho at a PR firm, the Soho branch of Nude Espresso was my daily regular. I was mostly drinking takeaways but we used to go there as a team for a sit down whenever we got the chance. Now that I’ve finished up that gig, I still make the pilgrimage to the Soho branch for a quiet coffee on the weekend or drop by for an occasional city hangout.

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St Ali Workshop London

St Ali is a Melbourne based cafe that has made the leap into London whole-heartedly. Their cafe in Clerkenwell started slowly but is now one of the benchmarks for modern cafes in London.

St Ali London
St Ali in Clerkenwell makes an excellent Latte

St Ali London have recently changed their name to Workshop Coffee. The name change helps give the UK outlets their identity. I’m not sure I like the change but the coffee is still good.

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World Barista Championships London

The 2010 World Barista Championships were a turning point in the coffee culture in London. Suddenly, London was on show to the world and the new wave independent cafes had a chance to shine.

World Barista Championships
Map of venues associated with the World Barista Championships

The 2009 champion Gwilym Davies provided inspiration and the 2010 championship left a lasting impression on coffee culture in London.

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Department of Coffee

The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is a new cafe in Farringdon/Clerkenwell but feels like it’s been here forever. The highlights include chilled out dub music in the background, excellent coffee and a relaxed atmosphere.

Department of Coffee Leather Lane
The Department of Coffee has a great balance of atmosphere and quality coffee

Department of Coffee is a real addition to the Leather Lane area and they are now opening new cafes in The City (Liberty of Norton Folgate), Soho (Speakeasy) and Chancery Lane.

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What is a flat white?

“A flat white is a small latte.” Said the barista at the Workshop Cafe in London to an enquiring British visitor. My ears pricked up. To me, a flat white is much more, but those Workshop Coffee guys really know their stuff.

One of the great debates in the London cafe scene is the difference between a Flat White vs Latte. In some cafes, a flat white is just a small latte, but in others it’s an entirely different drink.

Flat White from Foxcroft and Ginger
Flat White from Foxcroft & Ginger pop-up cafe in a shipping container in Shoredtich.

“A flat white is just a cappuccino with less froth isn’t it?” I overheard a slightly confused Hungarian cafe owner say to a Kiwi customer. This was the final straw and set me off on a journey to search for a good definition of my favourite drink. To me, a flat white is like the Supreme Court’s 1964 definition of pornography; I’m not quite sure how to define it but “I know it when I see it.”
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Best coffee in London

The best coffee in London is at Prufrock in Leather Lane. I wish there was more to say than that but there isn’t. The Prufrock team may not be friendly or helpful but they are purists and their coffee is amazing.

Best Coffee in London
You are looking at the best cup of coffee in London, a flat white from Prufrock

But the best coffee isn’t the same thing as the best cafe. In fact, the things that make a cafe great don’t always lead to the best coffee. And vice versa. For example, staff that are fanatical about coffee can be off putting to customers who are a little unsure of themselves.

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