Luke Sital-Singh's top five coffee shops in London
The singer-songwriter talks us through his favourite places for a caffeine hit
One morning a couple of years ago I woke up, looked in the mirror and discovered, to my shock, that I was a hipster. I had stupid glasses, a growing collection of Christmas knitwear and, above all, an insatiable desire for great coffee.
This new obsession with a good ol' cuppa Joe lead me on a still-unfinished journey to visit the best coffee shops in London. As it stands here are my favourite five:
These days there's definitely no shortage of good coffee joints in London and there's not too much difference between the great ones. So to be regarded as the greatest is quite something. My research for the best coffee shop consistently threw up Prufrock in Farringdon as THE place to go. I'm rarely in that part of town so I made an intentional pilgrimage to visit this famous coffee 'mecca'. And it doesn’t disappoint. The decor is as trendy as can be – if you like exposed industrial piping, you'll love this place! – and with a good amount of seating it never seems over run.
At Prufrock, coffee is treated more as an art form, not least when it comes to the latté art – my flat white had a freakin' swan on it! Try the brew bar, ask for a ‘syphon brewed’ coffee, sit back and behold 'Breaking Bad' style coffee chemistry in action.
- 23-25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE
When I lived in Finsbury Park, I often ventured into Stoke Newington to peruse the local Whole Foods (another hipster trait, it turns out). On one journey I stumbled across Fred & Fran. Tucked away on a side street, this place became a little haven for me. Though small, it was rarely busy and seemed light-years away from the 'too trendy to care' vibe of some of many Soho’s coffee shops. Fred & Fran is the warmest and most inviting coffee shop I've ever frequented. The atmosphere is gentle and I've often sat in there for writing some of my favourite songs, getting dangerously wired on their delicious flat whites. Also the beans are from Square Mile: win!
- 55 Kynaston Rd, N16 0EB
Being a restaurant as well as a great coffee shop, Workshop Coffee Co in Clerkenwell is open late. I stumbled into this place after a gig nearby and found myself ordering food and a flat white way past the watershed. This place has a warmer, classier decor than a lot of coffee shops. There's a bar around the barista pit and, like a sushi place, you can perch on a stool and watch your precious caffeine hit being birthed before your very eyes. This is more exciting if you order something more involved like an Aeropress brew. There's nothing like watching a coffee craftsman at work.
Also a roastery, Workshop Coffee Co houses a roaster at the back of the shop, which is a fascinating piece of equipment that us nerds can get excited about. I order their coffee online to enjoy at home.
- 27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RN
Being one of the first serious coffee places I ever tried, Kaffeine will always have a place in my caffeinated heart. This place gave me first real exposure to geeky coffee love and, for that, I will be eternally grateful. Kaffeine is generally regarded as one of the greatest coffee shops in London. They use Square Mile coffee beans, which have to be some of the very best out there. Wherever you go, if there's a bag of Square Mile Red Brick Espresso Beans above the machine, you're probably in good hands. Kaffeine’s food menu is just as great as their coffee, but be quick, as it’s always super busy in there it sells out quickly.
- 66 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7QJ
If you're a coffee fan, you’re pretty spoilt for choice these days. There seems to be a new shop opening most weeks, if you're a North-of-the-River kind of person that is. Things are a little harder for Southerners like me. But all that changed when I discovered Birdhouse in Clapham Junction. It's a small but perfectly formed little shop with good decorative attention to detail. As you may predict there's an avian theme to this place, but it's subtle and pleasing. The deep woods and brushed steel are accented with a bright yellow that gives Birdhouse a very unique aesthetic (I love their bright yellow coffee mugs). Their coffee is Climpson and Sons, and they do great sarnies. There’s definitely better beans out there but if you find yourself in the Clapham area Birdhouse is the best around.
- 123 St John's Hill, SW11 1SZ
Luke Sital-Singh's new EP 'Tornados' is out Sun Nov 3.
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