The number of quality independent coffee shops in London is growing by the month, and there are now options that give even Sydney or Melbourne a run for their money. We’ve trawled the Big Smoke in search of the perfect cup of java and come back with five amazing cafes that are taking coffee drinking to the next level.
Clerkenwell: Prufrock Coffee
23-25 Leather Lane EC1N 7TE
Headed by 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davis, if anywhere can lay claim to serving the best coffee in London it’s Prufrock. This large, airy cafe in Clerkenwell serves the full range of expertly crafted espresso-based drinks, as well as guest beans slow-brewed through their Aeropress. It’s a great coffee shop that attracts an eclectic range of customers, from families with kids to wired office workers. They also offer barista training for coffee industry insiders and home enthusiasts alike.
Covent Garden: Monmouth Coffee
27 Monmouth St WC2H 9EU
Perhaps London’s oldest artisan coffee shop, Monmouth Coffee opened its doors in 1978 and has been brewing some of London’s finest espressos and filter blends ever since. One of the secrets to their success is the fact that they roast their own beans in-house, with the Monmouth espresso blend regarded by many as the best in the city. Their flagship location in Covent Garden may be tiny and have a queue stretching out the door, but the coffee is always worth the wait. This area is also close to many of London’s best hotels (see HotelClub for more information).
Shoreditch: Allpress Espresso
58 Redchurch St E2 7DP
Coffee lovers in Shoreditch couldn’t do much better than heading to this popular cafe and roastery on Redchurch Street for their caffeine fix. The team behind Allpress have been in the coffee game for years, launching their business in New Zealand and slowly spreading to Australia, London and Tokyo. Allpress uses only the best arabica beans, which are sourced from direct relationships with the growers, ensuring the quality remains consistently high. We recommend their in-house ‘Redchurch’ blend for espresso, or if you’re more of a drip guy, the single-origin beans work great through the filter machine.
Bloomsbury: Wild & Wood
Unit 19, 1 New Oxford Street WC1A 1BA
The sign out the front promises the best coffee in London, and they could be right. Wild & Wood serves up excellent espressos in this busy area close to the British Museum. Venture inside, past the humid glass windows, and you will find yourself in a charming French-style rustic cafe serving freshly-roasted coffee from Monmouth. Milk-based drinks are made using only the organic Jersey milk, and their flat whites are some of the best in town. Take a seat in their cosy, wood-panelled Nook area and wonder why you ever thought of setting foot in a chain coffee shop again.
Brixton: Federation Coffee
Unit 77-78, Brixton Village Market SW9
South Londoners have fewer options when it comes to gourmet coffee, but Brixton cafe Federation is one of the stand-outs in the entire city. Situated in the up and coming Brixton Village Market, Federation roasts its own beans at a nearby warehouse unit and sources them from Brazil, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Sumatra. The resulting Contraband espresso blend is rich and strong. Grab yourself a pew and try a shot or two yourself.
What all these cafes demonstrate is that coffee culture is about more than just the quality and consistency of the brew. It’s also about having friendly and knowledgable baristas on hand to create the right atmosphere and help you pick the right drink. Check out LittleCoffeePlace.com to see more shops that didn’t make the top 5. What’s your favourite coffee shop in London? We’d love it if you left a comment and let us know.
Image credits: Ricardo therovingepicure londonmatt
Guest Post by Matt Lindley: Follow on Twitter @MattELindley