Top 10 Cafes in London

Every cafe in zone 1
The fun part of looking for the best coffee in London is exploring new neighbourhoods.

London now has a wide range of great independent cafes run by staff from all over the world and serving coffee in every imaginable style. I’ve chosen the ten best based on the style of coffee I drink (Flat White) and the style of cafe I like (chilled out Sunday afternoon magazine reading).

Your top ten would probably be different, but every one of these cafes is world class and could stand up in Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, New York, Paris or Milan. They are all worth a visit.

1. Department of Coffee

2. Workshop

3. Nude

4. Prufrock

5. Foxcroft & Ginger

6. Fernandez & Wells

7. Kaffeine

8. Tapped and Packed

9. Espresso Room

10. Notes

There are several great guide books for London cafes. My favorite is Independent Coffee London. The London Coffee Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative guide, and Cafe Life London provides a more personal approach to finding the best coffee in London.

To me, the best way to explore the hidden cafes in London is using your iPhone or Android with FourSquare, London’s Best Coffee or the London Coffee Map app.

There are several great cafes (and cafe mini-chains) that I haven’t included here such as Monmouth, Sacred, Dose, Fix and Taylor Street Baristas. They are all excellent but if I had to pick only ten cafes to take a visitor from outside of London to, then the above list would be my pick.

Interview with the CEO of Pact coffee

Pact Coffee is a speciality coffee delivery startup. They recently raised a round of venture capital so during my last week in London before moving to New York I went to meet with the team and hear about their vision to bring good coffee to the masses. I visited Pact on a crisp sunny autumn afternoon. Their offices and packing operation are tucked away in a light industrial complex in Bermondsey just south of the Thames River.

Pact Coffee Startup Team

The industrial complex that Pact is based in is owned by Club Workspace and is actually a loose affiliation of startups that have physical product businesses (instead of the tech-only startups that I’m used to in my day-job). Pact has deliberately located there, partially out of necessity, because they’re packing coffee (soon to be roasting as well), and also out of preference because they enjoy being surrounded by other entrepreneurial businesses who are also trading in physical products.

Continue reading Interview with the CEO of Pact coffee

Buy shares in the London Coffee App

When I first arrived in London I tried using FourSquare and TripAdvisor to find good cafes. But it was too confusing because every search for “coffee” returned so many hits that I couldn’t get a sense for the best places to go.

Blue Crow Media
The London’s Best Coffee App is made by Blue Crow Media.

Luckily I found a couple of iPhone applications that transformed my experience of exploring London to find new cafes. The London Coffee Map and London’s Best Coffee are the two apps I use the most to find new cafes. So you can imagine my excitement when I joined the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs in January and discovered that the makers of London’s Best Coffee were raising investment for their business through Seedrs. Continue reading Buy shares in the London Coffee App

Taylor Street Baristas and Mr Porter

Taylor Street Baristas are one of the sharpest commercial operators in the London coffee scene. Everything from their property investment relationships to the partnership with Tescos speaks to a team that wants to build a serious business. They have also managed to remain serious about their coffee. The Taylor St Baristas pop-up in Shoreditch was my local when I worked for a web design agency back when I first arrived in London.

Mr Porter Taylor St Baristas
Mr Porter have offered to shout people a coffee at Taylor St Baristas

This week Taylor Street Baristas have partnered with online fashion retailer Mr Porter to offer free coffee between 8am and 10am at a few of their locations between 23 September and 27 September. The last one is at Taylor Street Baristas Liverpool Street on 27 September. It’s a fun little marketing stunt that I hope continues on as a long term relationship between the two brands.

Continue reading Taylor Street Baristas and Mr Porter

Best places for coffee in Farringdon

For the last couple of months I’ve been working from the Innovation Warehouse co-working space in Farringdon. The Innovation Warehouse provides free filter coffee, 50 pence espresso pods and hot water for members to use in their Aeropress and plungers. Each member of the space has their own coffee routine. One of the startups has a tradition of grinding a whole bag of fresh Monmouth coffee in the morning if they have a particularly big day coming up. But sometimes there is no substitute for going outside for walk and a flat white or a real espresso.

Dose Cafe in Clerkenwell
Dose Espresso is the perfect place for a meeting in Farringdon/Clerkenwell/Barbican.

I asked some of the other Innovation Warehouse members where they go for coffee in Farringdon and compiled their suggestions into a list based on the things that entrepreneurs most need in a cafe. Continue reading Best places for coffee in Farringdon

TimberYard Cafe London

TimberYard cafe just opened in Old Street between Shoreditch and Clerkenwell. I’ve been waiting for a casual, friendly cafe with plenty of seating in EC1 for a long time. Look Mum No Hands (next door on Old Street) is great but the coffee isn’t perfect and it often gets far too crowded to be able to relax and think.

Timber Yard Cafe
The Flat White at Timberyard Cafe in Old Street is not as good as it should be.

I’ve been wondering why none of the cafes in Shoreditch have opened up their basements or their un-used first floors. Some days I traipse around Dose at Google Campus, Salvation Jane, Shoreditch Grind, Goswell Rd, Fix and Look Mum No Hands just looking for a place to hang my Macbook.

Continue reading TimberYard Cafe London

Every Independent Cafe in Zone One in London

One of the challenges I took on this year was to visit every independent cafe in Zone One in London. So far I’ve been to about twenty cafes and filmed little YouTube clips of me talking about the cafes as I go. I’ve been shooting photos of the Flat Whites and taking notes on which cafes are the most chilled out and fun to hang out in.

Zone 1 Coffee London Map
Map of the Independent Cafes in London Zone 1

Because I’m only visiting cafes listed in the London Coffee Map application there haven’t been any bad cafes but I’ve seen a few stressed out customers, some over worked staff and some confusing etiquette around ordering. On the whole, the cafes have been excellent and I’ll be posting more reviews as I get to explore more.

Continue reading Every Independent Cafe in Zone One in London

Zone 1 Coffee Project

A couple of days into the London Coffee Cups adventure a friend dared me to step it up and go to every independent cafe in Zone One in London. It’s a great challenge and I’ll be blogging and making videos as I go.

Zone 1 central london coffee
The Zone 1 Coffee project is sending me off to hunt for Flat Whites in every corner of Central London.

There are about sixty cafes listed in the London Coffee Guide and the Independent Coffee Book London that are in Zone 1. I’ll be working my way through all of them. Hopefully I’ll get to meet a lot of baristas and some cafe owners along the way that I can introduce to you.

Continue reading Zone 1 Coffee Project

Railroad Cafe

Railroad cafe in Hackney is a nice small cafe. It’s in Hackney and is part of the growing number of lovely independent cafes in the area. But it’s not quite pushing the boundaries of coffee quality.

Railroad cafe in Hackney
Railroad is like a dependable old friend.

The flat white was yummy and the pottery cups added a nice touch. It’s a great neighbourhood hangout but probably not worth traipsing across London to get to.

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Giddy Up

Giddy Up has real heritage as a local coffee venue. The baristas are excellent.

Coffee Cart Barbican London
The Giddy Up Coffee Cart off Whitecross Market is a real local gem

On the day, the flat white was actually only ok, not amazing. The mouth feel was a bit tart and the froth wasn’t as velvety as it could have been. But the overall experience was stunning.

Continue reading Giddy Up