London's best cafés and coffee shops
On the hunt for a classier caffeine kick? Here's Time Out's guide to the latest wave of London coffee shops creating a buzz
There’s more to London’s coffee shops than just great brews. The last few years have seen an explosion of coffee culture in the capital, and these are the places to check out this creative community. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
This popular corner spot, with tables and a counter at one end of the light-filled room and the coffee roaster at the other, is deeply embedded in the Shoreditch scene. Just before closing time the place still had a good few customers, equally divided between drinking-in and takeaways. Allpress makes terrific coffee, both filter and espresso-based. An espresso was textbook stuff, perfect crema and lush berry flavours and deep, dark chocolate. But the filter brews from a changing roster of beans are best for a more leisurely spot of sipping. Both drinks would be reason enough to come here, but the food makes for an even more compelling reason. Baked goods are outstanding, and the sandwiches are imaginative. Green goddess egg and jamón, salmon celeriac remoulade… you get the picture. Still the star turn in Shoreditch.
The bottom line: Enduringly popular for its unhurried atmosphere, lovely service and great food.
- 58 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP. Liverpool St or Shoreditch High St Overground.
Deeply brown, nicely buzzy and never overheated, Climpson’s wood-lined coffee shop has the same great qualities as its excellent flat whites. It occupies a little niche on the west side of Broadway Market, so you might miss it entirely on a Saturday when this street becomes a hive of street stalls, artisanal food-snobbery and folk-busking. But this haven of laid-back enthusiasm, with friendly Antipodean staff who aim to serve, not sneer, is open every day of the week from 7.30am when it’s a nifty morning-paper hangout for equally laid-back locals. With its no-frills attitude, plain wooden benches, handy power points and helpful blackboard graph explaining the strength and taste of the available coffees and how they’re made, this place is about coffee first, conversation second. Climpson’s is a great example of the kind of pared-down, taste-focused cafés which have sprung up all over Dalston and London Fields, bringing hip mums, students and twentysomething remote workers together to enjoy keenly priced retro cakes, avocado on sourdough, and good strong coffee, locally roasted at Climpson’s nearby roastery.
The bottom line: Buzzy, laidback, enthusiastic, with locally roasted beans – the perfect coffee shop for Saturday nights and Monday mornings.
- 67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. London Fields rail.
Even at 4.30pm on a Tuesday this original branch of Nude boasted a sizeable crowd, a tribute to its enduring popularity – and to the quality that keeps it going. Nude has become as much a food destination in recent years as a coffee destination. The menu follows the same format year on year – breakfasts, brunch dishes, a few fairly complicated assemblies, salads and baked goodies – but the selection changes from day to day. All-day food keeps packing ’em in, and at weekends the long ground-floor room can be a bit of a scrum. But a jolly, well-managed scrum, thanks to staff who know to work and be friendly at the same time. If it’s coffee you’re after, the offering is espresso-orientated, and you’d be advised to get some milk into the mix because the house blend is a very high roast short on sweetness. Well made, just a little too hardcore for many people’s taste. Get it with some form of milk, order pastry to go with it, and settle in.
The bottom line: Serious attention to food is one of the top draws for both locals and touristas.
- 26 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR. Aldgate East.
Opened in 2012, Oz-owned Ozone is a major hit with the office workers around Silicon Roundabout. At 2.30pm on a grey Tuesday we found the street level room completely full. In the basement, where the beans are roasted, was a different story: we were the only people in that charmingly un-refurbished room. Ozone has made a big deal of its food from the very start, and if anything it gets more serious with time. Even with standard dishes there’s a nice tendency to add a taste of the unexpected: fried shallots and salsa verde with kedgeree, for instance. Soup of the day is always interesting. Coffee comes in brewed form as well as espresso and its offspring, with a daily changing pair of ‘slow-brew’ specials. Kenyan peaberry given this treatment was a silky treat. A word of warning if you sit in the basement: coffee making the descent from the busy ground floor room has a tendency to cool off a bit en route. Apart from that, no complaints.
The bottom line: Popularity has risen stratospherically – crowded upstairs, easier downstairs.
- 11 Leonard Street, EC2A 4AQ. Old St.
Other great places to drink coffee in east London
- Regent's Canal towpath, (between Whitmore Bridge and Kingsland Road Bridge), N1 5SB