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Slurp
Jon Attenborough

The 15 Essential Coffee Shops in London

Places that do speciality with sincerity

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Slurp
| Jon Attenborough

When it comes to coffee, London has it pretty good. While the average cup that passes a Londoner’s lips might not hit the heights of Melbourne, Seattle, or any of Scandinavia’s capital cities, the number of shops looking beyond the average joe is ever on the increase. They’re anchored by the top roasters in the capital — Workshop and Square Mile the big two — with the likes of Dark Arts (Hackney), Assembly (Brixton), and Alchemy (Wimbledon) also at play. These cafés are the leading lights on the London scene, which often seek inspiration as well as beans from roasters across Europe and across the Atlantic.

Coffee’s baked in takeaway model and relatively easy implementation of one-way measures, masks, and social distancing mean that writing a definitive list for the city is still possible, even if some remain open only for takeaway.

Take a look at London’s best new coffee shops, too.

NB: This particular guide privileges coffee quality and consistency over prestige and historical importance.

London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopened for full indoor service 19 July, when the government lifted all legal coronavirus restrictions. Some venues will continue to practice social distancing and masking: Customers can check with individual venues to determine their availability and Covid-secure measures before deciding to visit.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kiss the Hippo Coffee Richmond

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50 George St
Richmond TW9 1HJ, UK

Now one of the sleekest operations in the city, Kiss the Hippo’s Richmond cafe serves as both neighbourhood standby and destination cafe. Still pouring iced filter ahead of cold brew for the summer — thank you — the attentive service and luscious drinks make it stand out from the crowd.

London’s best coffee shops: Kiss the Hippo Kiss the Hippo [Official Photo]

2. Kapihan

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13A Parkgate Rd, Battersea
London SW11 4NL, UK

Nigel and David Motley’s new home in Battersea Park delivers beautiful, exacting Filipino baking, but also single origin coffee from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar, countries which speciality coffee has either recently deigned to recognise, or remain systemically overlooked. Guest roasts from the likes of Barcelona’s Nomad are complemented by a natural Filipino coffee that tastes of peaches and caramel.

Coffee bar at Kapihan, Battersea Michaël Protin

3. Campbell & Syme Coffee Roasters Cafe

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9 Fortis Green, East Finchley
London N2 9JR, UK

One of the most consistent cafes in the game and an East Finchley standby, Campbell and Syme is now back on full service, offering two espressos and three filters from its rotating cast of single origin coffees — currently, a macerated natural process coffee from Honduras and another from the well-regarded Aricha area in Sidamo, Ethiopia are standing out.

4. Workshop Coffee

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1 Barrett St, Marylebone
London W1U 1AX, UK

Workshop has outlasted its former mini-chain competitors Taylor Street and Department of Coffee to be the best multi-site coffee operator in the city. Milk drinks are comforting, espressos are sweet, and filters are clean — with consistency across all of its shops.

Filter coffee brewed at Workshop Coffee, which has opened a fifth London cafe in The Pilgrm Hotel in Paddington Workshop Coffee/Instagram

5. Kaffeine

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66 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia
London W1W 7QJ, UK

This Fitzrovia cafe’s impact cannot be underestimated — even in the context of its second site on Eastcastle Street. Another Square Mile stalwart, the initially short-lived (but now happily revived) guest espresso program brought global roasters to the very centre of London, and in being weekends only to begin with, emphasised the rarity and uniqueness of the coffees served. Incredible consistency and a willingness to innovate: it is, refreshingly, as simple as that.

Kaffeine in Fitzrovia, one of London’s best coffee shops Twitter

6. Formative Coffee

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4 Butler Pl, Westminster
London SW1H 0RH, UK

Formative opened quietly in one sense, tucked down a deceptively high footfall thoroughfare between Westminster and Victoria. It opened loudly in another, with founder Ian Kissick declaring London “a labyrinth of homogenously [sic] humdrum cafés seeking to serve coffee to the public in an ever duller manner.” Woof. Together with a tight team, Kissick delivers a breezy, accessible approach to coffee’s flavour palette whose kind, considered service and Coffee A / Coffee B set-up anchor the fastidious attention to detail and quality that reflects most faithfully where it should: in the cup. Not humdrum, never dull, lacking exposed brick and consistently excellent: don’t call it a game-changer, but Formative is something to shout about.

London coffee shop Formative will reject speciality coffee as a label Formative [Official Photo]

7. Omotesando Koffee

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8 Newman St, Fitzrovia
London W1T 1PB, UK

Speciality coffee — that is, drinks made with quality beans, precision, and if desired, milk textured into supple creaminess — is not hard to find in London. Speciality coffee — that is, quality drinks presented, explained, and served in a way that befits those drinks representing something culturally distinct — remains genuinely rare. Omotesando, arrived from Japan, eschews the airspace aesthetic, offers a service model designed for engagement over efficiency, and marries exacting preparation with the resonances of Italian and Japanese espresso cultures.

London’s best coffee shops: Omotesando Koffee London James Hansen/Eater

8. Prufrock Coffee

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23-25 Leather Ln, Holborn
London EC1N 7TE, UK

To be frank, Prufrock’s quality wobbled in its transition to being owned by Square Mile, one of the city’s pioneering, and still leading roasters. But the long shadow it — and its alumni — cast over London speciality coffee culture now has a bright future to match it, with a newly refurbished shop and a renewed quality to the drinks giving one of London’s older guard the gravitas it deserves. The introduction of a precisely engineered but deeply pleasurable affogato and the return of some of Europe’s most exciting roasters on the retail shelves recaptures some of the fun, moderately chaotic energy that made it *the* London coffee shop of the 2010s.

Best coffee shops in London: Prufrock Coffee Prufrock Coffee [Official Photo]

9. Rosslyn Coffee

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78 Queen Victoria St
London EC4N 4SJ, UK

With firm roots in both Melbourne and London’s specialty coffee cultures — the former established, the latter still evolving — Rosslyn is an illustration of how far London has come, and where it might go. Many of the shops on this list will unofficially recommend a lighter, fruitier espresso straight; and a richer, more chocolatey espresso in milk. Rosslyn goes a step further by selecting two different coffees from Origin to make the deal official. With a far-reaching guest program that again looks to tradition, in Five Senses from Australia, and at the modern vanguard, La Cabra in Denmark, Rosslyn might represent a template for the next phase in the evolution of speciality coffee in London.

10. Origin Coffee

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65 Charlotte Rd
London EC2A 3PE, UK

Southwestern imports Origin have staged something of a London takeover since opening a flagship store on Charlotte Road in 2014, opening in Southwark and at the British Library — a display of specialty’s mainstream breakthrough. The offering — all roasted in Cornwall and now selected by two-time U.K. coffee tasting champion Freda Yuan — is perhaps one of the most progressive in the city. ‘Session coffees’: high yield, steady harvests with approachable flavour profiles, are set against monthly features, often focussed on a specific process, varietal, or, inevitably, origin. The mural behind the bar demands close attention. (The author worked across Origin’s sites for 15 months to June 2017, but has no further association with the company.)

Origin Coffee in Shoreditch, one of London’s best coffee shops Pete Murgatroyd

11. Lanark Coffee

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262 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ, UK

Just a stroll from Hackney City Farm, Lanark is one of east London’s lesser-known excellent cafes, opened by Greg Boyce and Dom Sherington. Roasters are rotated with near alarming regularity: Alchemy, Square Mile and Dark Arts more frequently on the roster, with a pared back menu of espresso, espresso with milk, and filter. For straight-up deliciousness, the quality of the espresso is on a par with anywhere in the city.

Lanark on Hackney Road, one of London’s best coffee shops Lanark | Instagram

12. Paradox Design + Coffee

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13 - 23 Westgate street Unit A Netil Market, Hackney
London E8 3RL, UK

One of London’s best newish coffee shops makes the jump at Netil Market, London Fields, all while adding soft serve ice cream to its already strong rotation from Wednesday to Sunday. The rose latte shatters any lingering concerns about coffee being deathless, and a rotating suite of roasters keeps things fresh: right now, expect Edinburgh’s Cairngorm, with a choice of several bright filter coffees.

A flat white in a glass being held out with a rosetta design on top Paradox Coffee [Official Photo]

13. Browns of Brockley

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5 Coulgate St, Brockley
London SE4 2RW, UK

Ross Brown is one of London coffee’s most irreverent, reluctant ambassadors. His eponymous shop is as much pillar of the citywide landscape as it is a neighbourhood essential; Square Mile’s iconic (if “steady”) Red Brick anchors the espresso offering, while DROP — a Swedish roastery focussed on juicy, expressive coffees, (sadly missed since Flat White’s defection to Dark Arts) — is a regular option on filter. A recent refurbishment has expanded and brightened the shop, but taken away none of its personality, which can also be found at St David’s in Forest Hill and Bon in East Dulwich.

Browns of Brockley in Brockley, one of London’s best coffee shops Toby Allen

14. Intermission Coffee

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Unit 2 The Hardy Building, Heritage Ln
London NW6 2BR, UK

This cute spot in West Hampstead has come on in big strides, first since opening and second since starting to roast its own coffee — a transition that countless have attempted and many have failed. It’s also willing to keep what made it such a strong starter going, by bringing in exciting, conscientiously brewed guest coffees from U.K. and European roasters doing interesting things, rather than relying on the older guard, and also making oat milk free.

The best London restaurant merch to buy right now includes this tote bag with a cartoon man sipping coffee from Intermission

15. Esters

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55 Kynaston Rd
London N16 0EB, UK

Tucked away in a residential corner of Stoke Newington, Esters is perhaps the platonic ideal of a neighbourhood cafe. Relaxed, quietly confident service matches the coffee offering, recently expanding the filter options to include batch brew as well as by-the-cup Kalita Waves. Staffordshire roastery Has Bean’s more unique offerings are highlighted with panache, with the new set-up giving freer reign to showcase more exciting or out-of-the-ordinary coffees.

Esters in Stoke Newington, one of the great coffee shops to work from in London Pinterest

1. Kiss the Hippo Coffee Richmond

50 George St, Richmond TW9 1HJ, UK
London’s best coffee shops: Kiss the Hippo Kiss the Hippo [Official Photo]

Now one of the sleekest operations in the city, Kiss the Hippo’s Richmond cafe serves as both neighbourhood standby and destination cafe. Still pouring iced filter ahead of cold brew for the summer — thank you — the attentive service and luscious drinks make it stand out from the crowd.

50 George St
Richmond TW9 1HJ, UK

2. Kapihan

13A Parkgate Rd, Battersea, London SW11 4NL, UK
Coffee bar at Kapihan, Battersea Michaël Protin

Nigel and David Motley’s new home in Battersea Park delivers beautiful, exacting Filipino baking, but also single origin coffee from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar, countries which speciality coffee has either recently deigned to recognise, or remain systemically overlooked. Guest roasts from the likes of Barcelona’s Nomad are complemented by a natural Filipino coffee that tastes of peaches and caramel.

13A Parkgate Rd, Battersea
London SW11 4NL, UK

3. Campbell & Syme Coffee Roasters Cafe

9 Fortis Green, East Finchley, London N2 9JR, UK

One of the most consistent cafes in the game and an East Finchley standby, Campbell and Syme is now back on full service, offering two espressos and three filters from its rotating cast of single origin coffees — currently, a macerated natural process coffee from Honduras and another from the well-regarded Aricha area in Sidamo, Ethiopia are standing out.

9 Fortis Green, East Finchley
London N2 9JR, UK

4. Workshop Coffee

1 Barrett St, Marylebone, London W1U 1AX, UK
Filter coffee brewed at Workshop Coffee, which has opened a fifth London cafe in The Pilgrm Hotel in Paddington Workshop Coffee/Instagram

Workshop has outlasted its former mini-chain competitors Taylor Street and Department of Coffee to be the best multi-site coffee operator in the city. Milk drinks are comforting, espressos are sweet, and filters are clean — with consistency across all of its shops.

1 Barrett St, Marylebone
London W1U 1AX, UK

5. Kaffeine

66 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7QJ, UK
Kaffeine in Fitzrovia, one of London’s best coffee shops Twitter

This Fitzrovia cafe’s impact cannot be underestimated — even in the context of its second site on Eastcastle Street. Another Square Mile stalwart, the initially short-lived (but now happily revived) guest espresso program brought global roasters to the very centre of London, and in being weekends only to begin with, emphasised the rarity and uniqueness of the coffees served. Incredible consistency and a willingness to innovate: it is, refreshingly, as simple as that.

66 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia
London W1W 7QJ, UK

6. Formative Coffee

4 Butler Pl, Westminster, London SW1H 0RH, UK
London coffee shop Formative will reject speciality coffee as a label Formative [Official Photo]

Formative opened quietly in one sense, tucked down a deceptively high footfall thoroughfare between Westminster and Victoria. It opened loudly in another, with founder Ian Kissick declaring London “a labyrinth of homogenously [sic] humdrum cafés seeking to serve coffee to the public in an ever duller manner.” Woof. Together with a tight team, Kissick delivers a breezy, accessible approach to coffee’s flavour palette whose kind, considered service and Coffee A / Coffee B set-up anchor the fastidious attention to detail and quality that reflects most faithfully where it should: in the cup. Not humdrum, never dull, lacking exposed brick and consistently excellent: don’t call it a game-changer, but Formative is something to shout about.

4 Butler Pl, Westminster
London SW1H 0RH, UK

7. Omotesando Koffee

8 Newman St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1PB, UK
London’s best coffee shops: Omotesando Koffee London James Hansen/Eater

Speciality coffee — that is, drinks made with quality beans, precision, and if desired, milk textured into supple creaminess — is not hard to find in London. Speciality coffee — that is, quality drinks presented, explained, and served in a way that befits those drinks representing something culturally distinct — remains genuinely rare. Omotesando, arrived from Japan, eschews the airspace aesthetic, offers a service model designed for engagement over efficiency, and marries exacting preparation with the resonances of Italian and Japanese espresso cultures.

8 Newman St, Fitzrovia
London W1T 1PB, UK

8. Prufrock Coffee

23-25 Leather Ln, Holborn, London EC1N 7TE, UK
Best coffee shops in London: Prufrock Coffee Prufrock Coffee [Official Photo]

To be frank, Prufrock’s quality wobbled in its transition to being owned by Square Mile, one of the city’s pioneering, and still leading roasters. But the long shadow it — and its alumni — cast over London speciality coffee culture now has a bright future to match it, with a newly refurbished shop and a renewed quality to the drinks giving one of London’s older guard the gravitas it deserves. The introduction of a precisely engineered but deeply pleasurable affogato and the return of some of Europe’s most exciting roasters on the retail shelves recaptures some of the fun, moderately chaotic energy that made it *the* London coffee shop of the 2010s.

23-25 Leather Ln, Holborn
London EC1N 7TE, UK

9. Rosslyn Coffee

78 Queen Victoria St, London EC4N 4SJ, UK

With firm roots in both Melbourne and London’s specialty coffee cultures — the former established, the latter still evolving — Rosslyn is an illustration of how far London has come, and where it might go. Many of the shops on this list will unofficially recommend a lighter, fruitier espresso straight; and a richer, more chocolatey espresso in milk. Rosslyn goes a step further by selecting two different coffees from Origin to make the deal official. With a far-reaching guest program that again looks to tradition, in Five Senses from Australia, and at the modern vanguard, La Cabra in Denmark, Rosslyn might represent a template for the next phase in the evolution of speciality coffee in London.

78 Queen Victoria St
London EC4N 4SJ, UK

10. Origin Coffee

65 Charlotte Rd, London EC2A 3PE, UK
Origin Coffee in Shoreditch, one of London’s best coffee shops Pete Murgatroyd

Southwestern imports Origin have staged something of a London takeover since opening a flagship store on Charlotte Road in 2014, opening in Southwark and at the British Library — a display of specialty’s mainstream breakthrough. The offering — all roasted in Cornwall and now selected by two-time U.K. coffee tasting champion Freda Yuan — is perhaps one of the most progressive in the city. ‘Session coffees’: high yield, steady harvests with approachable flavour profiles, are set against monthly features, often focussed on a specific process, varietal, or, inevitably, origin. The mural behind the bar demands close attention. (The author worked across Origin’s sites for 15 months to June 2017, but has no further association with the company.)

65 Charlotte Rd
London EC2A 3PE, UK

11. Lanark Coffee

262 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ, UK
Lanark on Hackney Road, one of London’s best coffee shops Lanark | Instagram

Just a stroll from Hackney City Farm, Lanark is one of east London’s lesser-known excellent cafes, opened by Greg Boyce and Dom Sherington. Roasters are rotated with near alarming regularity: Alchemy, Square Mile and Dark Arts more frequently on the roster, with a pared back menu of espresso, espresso with milk, and filter. For straight-up deliciousness, the quality of the espresso is on a par with anywhere in the city.

262 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ, UK

12. Paradox Design + Coffee

13 - 23 Westgate street Unit A Netil Market, Hackney, London E8 3RL, UK
A flat white in a glass being held out with a rosetta design on top Paradox Coffee [Official Photo]

One of London’s best newish coffee shops makes the jump at Netil Market, London Fields, all while adding soft serve ice cream to its already strong rotation from Wednesday to Sunday. The rose latte shatters any lingering concerns about coffee being deathless, and a rotating suite of roasters keeps things fresh: right now, expect Edinburgh’s Cairngorm, with a choice of several bright filter coffees.

13 - 23 Westgate street Unit A Netil Market, Hackney
London E8 3RL, UK

13. Browns of Brockley

5 Coulgate St, Brockley, London SE4 2RW, UK
Browns of Brockley in Brockley, one of London’s best coffee shops Toby Allen

Ross Brown is one of London coffee’s most irreverent, reluctant ambassadors. His eponymous shop is as much pillar of the citywide landscape as it is a neighbourhood essential; Square Mile’s iconic (if “steady”) Red Brick anchors the espresso offering, while DROP — a Swedish roastery focussed on juicy, expressive coffees, (sadly missed since Flat White’s defection to Dark Arts) — is a regular option on filter. A recent refurbishment has expanded and brightened the shop, but taken away none of its personality, which can also be found at St David’s in Forest Hill and Bon in East Dulwich.

5 Coulgate St, Brockley
London SE4 2RW, UK

14. Intermission Coffee

Unit 2 The Hardy Building, Heritage Ln, London NW6 2BR, UK
The best London restaurant merch to buy right now includes this tote bag with a cartoon man sipping coffee from Intermission

This cute spot in West Hampstead has come on in big strides, first since opening and second since starting to roast its own coffee — a transition that countless have attempted and many have failed. It’s also willing to keep what made it such a strong starter going, by bringing in exciting, conscientiously brewed guest coffees from U.K. and European roasters doing interesting things, rather than relying on the older guard, and also making oat milk free.

Unit 2 The Hardy Building, Heritage Ln
London NW6 2BR, UK

15. Esters

55 Kynaston Rd, London N16 0EB, UK
Esters in Stoke Newington, one of the great coffee shops to work from in London Pinterest

Tucked away in a residential corner of Stoke Newington, Esters is perhaps the platonic ideal of a neighbourhood cafe. Relaxed, quietly confident service matches the coffee offering, recently expanding the filter options to include batch brew as well as by-the-cup Kalita Waves. Staffordshire roastery Has Bean’s more unique offerings are highlighted with panache, with the new set-up giving freer reign to showcase more exciting or out-of-the-ordinary coffees.

55 Kynaston Rd
London N16 0EB, UK

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