I love a good cup of coffee. I’m no aficionado, but I still like to indulge in a rich roast. So even though I don’t know my Ethiopian from my Ecuadorian, I want to pay homage to the bean in my own way: bringing you 16 of what I consider the best coffee shops in London—or rather, my 16 favorites.
Best Coffee Shops in London
A huge number of independent coffee shops have opened in London in the last few years, mostly owing to the global trendiness of coffee. It has amazed me to see the change since I first moved to London, and delighted me to discover so many sweet, fun cafes to try. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a good espresso or indulgent cappuccino, these places are musts.
Best Coffee Shops in London for Pretty Coffees
When friends first took me to Ground Control on Amwell Street in Clerkenwell, I couldn’t get over how cool the coffee art was. I still go out of my way to go there just to see what they’ll draw into my next latte.
Less known for coffee art than just amazingly beautiful coffee, Farm Girl in Notting Hill has a rose latte that comes drizzled with crushed rose petals. I’ve rarely found a coffee that’s too pretty to drink, but this one certainly is.
Best Secret Coffee Shops in London
Algerian Coffee Stores
I walked by Algerian Coffee Stores in Soho a million times before I learned what was inside. The bright red shopfront was so picturesque that I took a picture of it for my Instagram feed one day. So many people commented that they loved the coffee there that I went straight back the next morning and took a look. I felt like I was stepping back in time, what with the historic feel of the place and walls lined with coffee products. It’s a great secret spot in London.
Tasting Room at Square Mile Coffee
Another of the best coffee shops in London is also hidden away. Out east in Bethnal Green, Square Mile’s private tasting room is open by invitation only. But if you can snag an invite it’s a beautiful room with a giant map of the world on the wall and espresso machines lining the counters. It’s also next to their factory, which is fun to tour.
Best I-Went-for-the-Name Coffee Shops in London
Look Mum No Hands!
Every time I walk from Clerkenwell to Shoreditch, Look Mum No Hands puts a smile on my face. Part bike shop, part coffee shop, it has one of the best names in London. I also love the outdoor area for sunny days.
Coffee Geek and Friends
When I first walked by Coffee Geek and Friends in Victoria I smiled. But when I discovered that they put nerdy glasses on their cappuccinos, I laughed out loud. Now I go back regularly, partly for the coffee, partly for the coffee art.
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is another place with a great name and good coffee. With locations in Soho, Clerkenwell, and other parts of the city, this rather bureaucratic-sounding chain is one branch of government I don’t mind taking over London. If only I could pay my taxes to them, too!
Best Coffee Shops in London for Ambiance
Foxcroft & Ginger
Foxcroft & Ginger not only has a sweet name, but also stylish interiors. With whimsical lighting and contemporary style, their shops from Soho to Whitechapel lure me in with the promise of good coffee in a cool environment.
Tomtom Coffee House
In the heart of chi chi Belgravia, Tomtom Coffee House is my go-to for coffee with ambiance. Colorful chairs and a round communal table add an element of cheerfulness to the shop, and the big bowl of croissants never fails to tempt me. But most of all, I love gazing out the wide windows to watch the beautiful people go by.
Any coffee shop with a bicycle above its entrance is going to catch my eye. TAP’s cool signage on Rathbone Place in Fitzrovia lured me in, and I stayed for the chilled out ambiance and cool wooden tables. Oh, and the good coffee. They know what they’re doing.
Best Coffee Shops in London for Coffee Lovers
In addition to having a great name, Prufrock coffee shop in Clerkenwell serves great coffee. I first discovered the place when a friend worked behind the counter, and have been going back ever since. They take their coffee incredibly seriously at Prufrock, and even do professional barista training and coffee-related classes and events.
A few years ago I went on a coffee date with a guy who was a self-proclaimed coffee snob. He ordered his beans online since no coffee shop in London had good enough beans, and he had his espresso machine custom made since no company made a good enough machine. Essentially, he was impossible to please. Well, except when it came to the coffee at Flat White in Soho. An endorsement if there ever was one.
Store Street Espresso
I’ve written about Store Street Espresso in Bloomsbury before, but I have to mention it again here. The strong, rich coffee blows me away every time (and I’m in the shop a lot of the time).
Best Coffee Shops in London for Everything Else
No list of the best coffee shops in London would be complete without Monmouth Coffee. A staple on the London scene, its Borough Market location is packed every weekend and its Covent Garden shop has a perpetual queue. It’s about as classic a coffee shop as London can offer.
Just off Brick Lane, Nude Espresso not only serves some of the best coffee in London, but also has a colorful attitude—you can’t miss the bright red shopfront. It’s right around the corner from the London Coffee Festival venue, too, so it’s a good place to get a pre-festival caffeine fix.
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Not far from Nude Espresso, Ozone Coffee Roasters rounds out my list of the best coffee shops in London. Its location by Old Street in Shoreditch has a sleek, modern vibe and its coffees have enough caffeine to keep me energized from morning to night (seriously, I almost had trouble falling asleep 12 hours after a cappuccino).
How about you? What are your favorite coffee shops in London?