Tuesday, 20 November 2012

My London: Coffee


I’ve had more coffees at my favourite London cafes in the last few weeks than is probably good for me. It’s been a like a farewell tour of them all, visiting them all one last time.  And so that in a years time when I think back to now, I can remember the details on the cafes I liked, here is my guide to coffee in London.  This guide also is for a friend that will be visiting soon after I leave (sod's law right?  At least I will see her back in Melbourne).  She's not here long but she doesn't deserve bad coffee.  I've mapped them out at the bottom as well.

It’s getting better but the high street is still dominated by the big chains.  My advice would be to just avoid them.  Seriously, they’re pretty awful and in the more touristy parts of town, you're never more than a ten minute walk from a coffee (a coffee that is worth the walk!).  At a push Cafe Nero is better than Starbucks or Costa but really only at a push.  All do decent hot chocolates though if you find yourself there.

Most of the cafes I like are also chains, but much much smaller ones with 2 or 3 locations.  Some roast onsite, others don’t.  All are consistently good with their coffee.  My standard order is for a flat white but most have filter, aeropress and other brew methods.  Not all are opened Sundays so keep that in mind.

Ok, they are:

Monmouth Coffee
27 Monmouth Street | Covent Garden | London WC2H 9EU
2 Park Street | The Borough | London SE1 9AB

The queues at the Borough Market shop get a bit ridiculous but if you’re also buying beans you can jump ahead. Even with the ridiculous queues, I’d wait and get one. Single cup size, strong coffee. Their espresso blend was for a long time the beans I used at home.  They serve some food (pastries and cakes) but I’ve never eaten at their stores, only ever getting coffee.  Monday – Saturday only.

66 Great Titchfield Street | London | W1W 7QJ

A Kiwi owned and run chained, home to the best ANZAC cookies of my life.  Away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, they have some delicious salads and food as well as the brilliant coffee.  And, added bonus - OPEN SUNDAYS!! 

Tapped and Packed
No.26 Rathbone Place | London | W1T 1JD
No.114 Tottenham Court Road | London | W1T 5AH
No.193 Wardour Street | Soho | W1F 8ZF

I don’t know a lot about this company but I love going to their Rathbone Place store and I’d recommend you visit it as well.  Along with the tables for 2 and 4s, there is a long comfy bench for solo sippers like I often am. Monday to Saturday only.

Flat White / Milk Bar
flat white - 17 Berwick Street | Soho | W1F 0PT
Milkbar - 3 Bateman street | Soho | W1D 4AG

Two contrasting cafes owned by the same guys.  Flat white has gone with dark and gloomy/edgy interiors whilst Milk Bar is lightness and sunshine (I love the multi coloured fly straps painted on the door a la milk bars of my childhood).  Both do great coffee.  Milk Bar also have free sparkling/still water from a self serve tap (I can’t remember if Flat White does but given I love a sparkling water with my coffee, this pleases me no end!)

Taylor Street Baristas
Unit 3 Westminster House, Kew Rd | Richmond | TW9 2ND
1A New St | London (Liverpool Street) | EC2M 4TP
125 Old Broad St | London (Bank) | EC2N 1AR
110 Clifton St | Shoreditch | EC2A 4HT
22 Brooks Mews | Mayfair | W1K 4DY
8 South Colonnade | Canary Wharf | E14 4PZ

The most frequent recipient of my coffee custom.  This is an Australian owned company which brings the bonus of being able to enjoy an ANZAC, Tim Tam, lamington or cherry ripe with your coffee, if you so choose.  This has grown quite a bit lately so there are plenty of them around, yet it is nothing like the high street coffee chains.  I just did a barista course at their Bank branch on the weekend and it’s so easy to hear and see how passionate these guys are about coffee.  Expect queues but join them anyway.  Free wifi at the stores (with the same password as you go from one cafe to another – nifty!)  Sadly the city and west end ones are all Monday – Friday operations only.  They’ve a shop in Brighton as well serving a full food menu as well if you find yourself there (28 Queens Rd | Brighton | BN1 3XA)

Fernando & Wells
East Wing, Somerset House | Strand | London WC2R 1LA
73 Beak Street | London (Soho)| W1F 9SR
16A St Anne’s Court | London | W1F 0BH (closed Sundays)
8 Exhibition Road | South Kensington | SW7 2HF (out west and handy for the museums)

A strange company, specialising in a few things, coffee being one of them (ham being another).  Home to the stumpy (a small latte) and usually a pretty decent offering of food. Open late and on Sundays, these cafes are well worth a visit if you’re nearby.  Not all of their locations are coffee orientated but those that I’ve enjoyed are:

27 Clerkenwell Rd | Clerkenwell | EC1M 5RN
75 Wigmore St | Marylebone | W1U 1QD

Aussie again, Melbournians will be familiar with the former names.The Marylebone store was previously Sensory Lab whilst the Clerkenwell store was previously St Ali.  Clerkenwell does some amazing cooked breakfasts.  Both do some amazing coffee.  Hop to it, I love these cafes.

58 Redchurch Street | Shoreditch | E2 7DP

Roasting on site (in view, depending on where you sit) and super convenient to my old pilates studio, I love a strong coffee here.  Food offerings are limited but well done.

1 Granary Square (off Goods Way) | London (Kings Cross) | N1C 4AA

Not just coffee but lots and lots of food as well if you want it.  I don’t head here a lot but if you are in the area, it’s some of the best coffee nearby to my mind. 
31 St Martin’s Lane | London (right near Traf Sq) WC2N 4ER
36 Wellington Street | Covent Garden | WC2E 7BD

I love the interior of this one, especially the giant spider like light at the back of the store over the communal tables. Specialises in music and coffee.  Win win.  Right near the tourist hot spot of Trafalgar Sqaure and opened late, I like.  May pay to ask for your coffee extra hot though if it’s a cold day and you’re getting take away.  They’re served ready to drink immediately.

This list is just those that I love.  Joe & The Juice was unlucky to miss out but given I can't go past their smoothies, I don't think of them as a cafe.

My London Coffee Map...

View My coffee in London in a larger map

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