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.

West

Barossa

This Australian-owned place (as you might guess from the name) packs in appreciative customers. There’s no simple way to describe the clientele – apart from affluent, since this is, after all, the Parsons Green end of New King’s Road. Late at lunchtime on a dreary Saturday it was buzzing with young families, middle-aged locals wearing thousands of pounds worth of very understated casualwear, and twentysomethings gathered in small, lively groups. There’s a small room at the front with a good view of passing traffic and a larger back room where the serious lunchers seem to congregate. Coffee here is a pleasure, with beans from the Caravan Roastery treated carefully and served immaculately. But the food is taken equally seriously: the usual brunch dishes and an international array of other things that is very tempting. In an area not well served with quality coffee in casual surroundings, Barossa stands out.

Espresso: £2

The bottom line: A deservedly popular wizard of Oz in sedatest Parsons Green.

  1. 277 New King's Road, SW6 4RD. Parson’s Green.
More info

The Elgin

The few patrons in place on a Thursday mid-afternoon were dawdling luxuriously in this big, airy neighbourhood hangout, and it was a treat to join them. This is not just a coffee place. It’s an ex-boozer, and alcohol still features prominently. As does a short menu bringing in international touches alongside more traditional pub grub, such as a sausage sandwich, in this case using bangers from the renowned Ginger Pig butcher. Nearly everything is made on the premises, including bread, and when something has to be bought in, the barista said, it’s a form of ‘cheating’. Beans come from Coleman Coffee, and alongside the house espresso blend there are single-estate coffees – rare in espresso. The barista wasn’t satisfied with his first two attempts for geeky technical reasons, so he persevered – and the third one was glorious, with bright berry notes. His perfectionism sums up a lot about this gem. Maida Valeites should cherish it.

Espresso: £2.20

The bottom line: A lovely local with lots of room and a really warm welcome.

  1. 255 Elgin Avenue, W9 1NJ. Maida Vale.
More info

Lowry & Baker

L&B opened in summer 2010, and many locals consider it a godsend after years of a serious lack of local independent coffee places. The food offering is small but outstanding, with good soups, sandwiches, salads and assorted other savouries. Sweet things are equally splendid (check out the blueberry cheesecake and banana bread), and prices are very reasonable. This is a neighbourhood hangout par excellence, with an atmosphere that’s like being in someone’s living room – staff talk to customers, and customers talk to each other. The food is served on a delightful jumble of unmatched crockery, but the perfectly brewed coffee – with beans from Monmouth – comes in well-warmed white cups. It’s warm, welcoming and totally laid back: we all wish we could have a café like this one on our corner.

Espresso: £1.60

The bottom line: A tiny, eccentrically decorated place with total commitment to quality in everything.

  1. 339 Portobello Rd, W10 5SA. Maida Vale.
More info

Yvon Patisserie

The espresso here is very Parisian – and that is not necessarily meant as a compliment. Perfectly good of its type, but nothing to write home about. The food is also very Parisian, and this is definitely meant as a compliment. Yvon Coignard has a five-star CV, and he knows his craft well. A small oval of the Languedoc bread called fougasse had a topping of meltingly sweet caramelised onions and salty lardons; wonderful. But it’s the display of jewel-like patisserie that will really make you think you're in St Germain rather than Ealing. Divided around equally between chocolate and fruit, they are a pleasure to look at. And, based on the evidence of a miniature tarte tatin, a pleasure to eat. Ealingites are lucky. We hope they know it.

Espresso: £1.35

The Bottom Line: Perfect Parisian-style pastries in an Ealing shopping centre

  1. 9 Oak Road, Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, W5 3SS
More info

Other great places to drink coffee in west London

  1. 9 Kensington Square, W8 5EP
Book online

Lola & Simon

  • Rated as: 3/5
  1. 278 King St, W6 0SP
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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