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

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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.

East

Allpress Espresso

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.

Espresso: £2

The bottom line: Enduringly popular for its unhurried atmosphere, lovely service and great food.

  1. 58 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP. Liverpool St or Shoreditch High St Overground.
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Climpson & Sons

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.

Espresso: £1.60

The bottom line: Buzzy, laidback, enthusiastic, with locally roasted beans – the perfect coffee shop for Saturday nights and Monday mornings.

  1. 67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH. London Fields rail.
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Nude Espresso

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.

Espresso: £2

The bottom line: Serious attention to food is one of the top draws for both locals and touristas.

  1. 26 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR. Aldgate East.
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Ozone

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.

Espresso: £2

The bottom line: Popularity has risen stratospherically – crowded upstairs, easier downstairs.

  1. 11 Leonard Street, EC2A 4AQ. Old St.
More info

Other great places to drink coffee in east London

  1. 397-400 Geffrye St, E2 8HZ
Book online
  1. Stour Space, 7 Roach Road, E3 2PA
More info

Mouse & De Lotz

  • Rated as: 3/5
  1. 103 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB
More info
  1. 140 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE
More info
  1. 120-122 Morning Lane, E9 6LH
More info
  1. 213 Old Street, EC1V 9NR
More info
  1. 1A New Street, EC2M 4TP
More info
  1. Regent's Canal towpath, (between Whitmore Bridge and Kingsland Road Bridge), N1 5SB
More info
  1. 63 Wilton Way, E8 1BG
More info

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Users say

18 comments
Patrick B
Patrick B

As a suggestion for the West, Anges de Sucre on Holland Street.

Conor M
Conor M

You've missed on of the best in Central London, near New Oxford Street: Wild and Wood

Dawn Cress
Dawn Cress

What about patisseries and coffee shops in the suburbs - Yvon's artisan Patissier in Ealing Broadway has excellent coffee and pastires and cakes and good service.

Anthony Kingsley
Anthony Kingsley

Great article! Love the idea with the tube map. There are a whole load of NonProfit cafes in East London that could be added, especially on Brick Lane, Kahaila Cafe has great coffee and cakes! Keep up the good work TimeOut. Cheers

Dan
Dan

I've placed all the cafes reviewed in central London on a map. I did it because I'm doing my own bit of research. The reviews on here have been very useful, thank you TimeOut. I hope this map can be of use to others. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid= 205388326386877886143.0004f1be3d59d4b47621f

AG
AG

For the east of London, there is a new place that should be mentioned, Stepney City Farm, not only sells beautiful coffee, (using Climpsons and Sons beans) Tea, (from Joes Tea Company) and hot chocolate (from Jaz and Juls).But it is a little peice of something else, set in the middle of a city farm, where you can watch the donkeys and goats while enjoying your drinks! The food is pretty spot on too, and its all localy sourced! Truly the only place in london to get an 'Affa-goat-to'

Adam Townsend
Adam Townsend

You need to check out The Urban Chocolatier in Whitechapel. This chocolate coffee shop is amazeballs!

fad
fad

What must be London's tiniest coffee shop - a minuscule battle waged between this slip of a place and the hole-in-the-wall that is StArt coffee on Columbia Road - opened today in the coffee mecca that is Fitzrovia (... it is said that all barista's tampers in London are positioned to face towards this arabica-dense area). In yet another unorthodox venue - wedged, Senkaku-like, in between a Chinese and a Japanese restaurant - Fitzrovians can yet again sate their desire for an espresso and a chat in non-conventional environs. With Attendant having opened on Foley Street only months ago, the wise money is on the next coffee shop opening between floors 16-20 of the BT Tower, the daily menu scrolling across its expansive LED screen for your convenience. Ridiculousness aside, this place pulls a decent shot from some serious kit (Nude's 'East' blend via a La Marzocco), the flat white I ordered providing a muted citrussy-zing and finish of toasted nuts. The interiors of the place could best be described as following TAP's deconstructed flea-market-chic vibe (which arguably 'fits' this particularly small space better than a full-sized cafe), with two stools optimistically placed outside for those braver and more garrulous than myself. The man behind the operation, a smiling, personable chap whose name I didn't manage to obtain, assures me he's here for the long-haul (as opposed to filling a gap in an under lease or similar) and seems pleasingly bullish about his chances in the area. When I mentioned the quality of the competition in the area, his response was "I know... good, right?". Excellent stuff. This said, to assume direct competition with the likes of Kaffeine, TAP etc would be to miss the point: GSE fills a different, smaller niche (if you'll indulge the metaphor) - and I'm sure the passing commuters and residents of the area will appreciate this newcomer for what it is.

Matt
Matt

Went to FreeState Coffee after reading this guide yesterday. Coffee, and staff very good, but no toilet!!! How can you put a cafe without a toilet on this list???? Another (subjective) point that I didn't like was that it is relatively small but with an enormous glass facade, so very hard to feel you have escaped the 'hustle and bustle' which is what I look for in a cafe.

Harry
Harry

You need to review Finns of Chelsea Green.

Lisa
Lisa

Disagree with Barossa. Customer service is absolutely abysmal. Food is nothing to write home about and venue is small and not well laid out. Afraid to say it but the coffee was not on par - I sent mine back and my mates forced theirs down. Don't waste your time. Pop over the river to Grind instead.

Amanda
Amanda

DISAGREE entirely re: Lola& Simon (Kings Road) - coffee is *not* great. Barely good, and not even enough to elevate the cafe into the great coffee places. This list also managed to omit several obvious west London independents within striking distance, all making great coffee: Hummingbird (Oaklands Place), Artisan (Kings Road), and Lavelli (Askew Road). Your reporters didn't actually do any work for this list.

Neon
Neon

How about the new "The Association" cafe by St Mary's Axe?

Molly Assheton
Molly Assheton

Tomtom coffee house on Elizabeth Street is by far the best coffee in London. It's a relaxed atmosphere and everything is top quality standard.

Danny
Danny

If these were on a map that'd be really great.

Fred
Fred

NOT a REAL HONEST LIST... it s shocking you missed 'Caffettino' from your south London List!!!! already on many guides and on the top 50 independent coffee shop in London by Evening Standard! Amazing Quality Coffee and the best food ever!!! ... no comment... go and check it out: www.facebook.com/pages/Caffettino/125150564235231

Ercan
Ercan

Where's Fee&brown on your list of great cafe's?? It serves truly great coffee, great atmosphere,.

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