London's best coffee

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We set ourselves a challenge: find the best cup of coffee in London. Former barista Charmaine Mok visited 25 different cafés across the capital to find the regional winners then, several caffeine-powered days later, coffee expert Richard Ehrlich picked an overall winner. Check out the map for some of our other favourites - be sure to list your own in the comments below

  • London's best coffee

    Espresso Room


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    BEST IN CENTRAL

    Espresso RoomGood range of top coffees, including HasBean roasts | Small team of dedicated baristas | You can get up close and personalWe’re big fans of Ben Townsend’s minuscule coffee bar, and our latest dose of his team’s excellently-pulled espressos and faultless flat whites proves that size doesn’t matter when it comes to finding quality coffee. Square Mile’s winter blend is currently their ‘house’ espresso. This particular batch of the temperamental blend was roasted less than two weeks before our visit; thus it remained steadfastly mellow with flavours that edged more towards the deep cocoa notes than the bouquet of ‘wonderful fruits’ expected as the roasted beans get older. Still, Townsend managed to coax out spicy notes of cinnamon resting atop a buttery base – exceptional, and it translated well as a base for a flat white. Its creamy, almost marshmallow-like lightness and aroma of sweet roasted nuts was positively dreamy; top-notch execution through and through.31-35 Great Ormond St, WC1N 3HZ (07932 137380/ www.theespressoroom.com). Holborn tube or 19, 38 bus. 7am-5pm Mon-Fri. Espresso £1.30, flat white £2.

    Pitch 42
    Cortados and espressos served in neat glassware | Cheap and cheerful | Retail bags of beans available

    Comedic duo Lee Hart and Jeremy Challender (co-director of Prufrock Coffee; see East) man the stall at pitch 42 of Whitecross Street Market. The equipment is serious – a La Marzocco machine and two grinders (an Anfim and a Mazzer Super Jolly) are lugged here daily. Their recommended flat white is lusciously silky and topped with flawless art; a single espresso is also just lovely. The blend is Square Mile’s winter espresso (a balanced combination of Brazilian and Ethiopian beans), and this time there were striking notes of orange oil and a commendable mellowness and length in the finish.
    Pitch 42, Whitecross Street Market, EC1. Old St tube/rail. 8am-2.30pm Mon-Fri. Espresso £1, flat white £2.

    Dose Espresso
    Steadfast attention to detail | Attuned to customer preferences | Variety of blends

    Dedicated owner James Phillips wasn’t in attendance during our visit, but his staff show the same high level of conscientiousness that’s required of the best baristas. A flat white was textbook perfect, and very easy drinking. An espresso (Square Mile’s ubiquitous winter blend) sampled after this didn’t live up to the high expectations we based on our previous visits. The shots came out grassier than usual, with a lighter body; but a second shot with finer ground beans improved slightly, with more of the bean’s signature profile of apricots and citrus coming through.
    69 Long Lane, EC1A 9EJ (020 7600 0382/ www.dose-espresso.com). Barbican tube. 7am-4pm Mon-Fri; 9am-1pm Sat. Espresso £1.20, flat white £2.

    Kaffeine
    Coffee geek literature for perusing | Best for a caffeine fix in Fitzrovia | Aussie-style sweet treats
    Peter Dore-Smith, originally from Melbourne, calls the shots here. Armed with an able team of baristas, a Synesso machine and Anfim grinders, Kaffeine is the thinking caffeine-lover’s hangout. Our Square Mile winter blend espresso was served at a lovely temperature, with a good bouquet of orange fruits and deeply browned nuts. This is also one of few coffee shops that provide a glass of water to chase it down with. But this time our flat white fell slightly short of the standards we’d enjoyed on previous visits: large air bubbles dotted the surface of the milk.
    66 Great Titchfield St, W1W 7QJ (020 7580 6755/www.kaffeine.co.uk). Oxford Circus tube. 7.30am-6pm Mon-Fri; 9am-6pm Sat. Espresso £1.50, flat white £2.20.

    Milk Bar
    Beans ground to order | Small and reliable team of baristas | Iced coffees also available
    This is our preferred destination for the drink that gave its name to its sister establishment, Flat White. Whether you’re drinking in or taking away, the flat white always feels reassuringly heavy in the hand, with a layer of thick textured milk blending with good, strong espresso (Square Mile’s winter blend at the time of writing). Our cup was a bit bubbly around the edges this time, but that’s the biggest gripe we could find. A well-pulled espresso with thick crema was a powerfully aromatic shot, filling the nose with roasted nuts; flavour-wise it delivered sharp hits of citrus.
    3 Bateman St, W1D 4AG (020 7287 4796). Tottenham Court Rd tube. 8am-7pm Mon-Fri; 9am-6pm Sat, Sun. Espresso £1.80, flat white £2.50.

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Comedic duo Lee Hart and Jeremy Challender (co-director of Prufrock Coffee; see East) man the stall at pitch 42 of Whitecross Street Market. The equipment is serious – a La Marzocco machine and two grinders (an Anfim and a Mazzer Super Jolly) are lugged here daily. Their recommended flat white is lusciously silky and topped with flawless art; a single espresso is also just lovely. The blend is Square Mile’s winter espresso (a balanced combination of Brazilian and Ethiopian beans), and this time there were striking notes of orange oil and a commendable mellowness and length in the finish. Dedicated owner James Phillips wasn’t in attendance during our visit, but his staff show the same high level of conscientiousness that’s required of the best baristas. A flat white was textbook perfect, and very easy drinking. An espresso (Square Mile’s ubiquitous winter blend) sampled after this didn’t live up to the high expectations we based on our previous visits. The shots came out grassier than usual, with a lighter body; but a second shot with finer ground beans improved slightly, with more of the bean’s signature profile of apricots and citrus coming through.Peter Dore-Smith, originally from Melbourne, calls the shots here. Armed with an able team of baristas, a Synesso machine and Anfim grinders, Kaffeine is the thinking caffeine-lover’s hangout. Our Square Mile winter blend espresso was served at a lovely temperature, with a good bouquet of orange fruits and deeply browned nuts. This is also one of few coffee shops that provide a glass of water to chase it down with. But this time our flat white fell slightly short of the standards we’d enjoyed on previous visits: large air bubbles dotted the surface of the milk. This is our preferred destination for the drink that gave its name to its sister establishment, Flat White. Whether you’re drinking in or taking away, the flat white always feels reassuringly heavy in the hand, with a layer of thick textured milk blending with good, strong espresso (Square Mile’s winter blend at the time of writing). Our cup was a bit bubbly around the edges this time, but that’s the biggest gripe we could find. A well-pulled espresso with thick crema was a powerfully aromatic shot, filling the nose with roasted nuts; flavour-wise it delivered sharp hits of citrus. Central | North | East | South | West | The Winner | Map

Users say

134 comments
mr andy
mr andy

Coffee1 best ever coffee(wales and west country)

Samantha
Samantha

The Black Lab in Clapham Commo....Perfect eveytime. The best in London!

Siobhan
Siobhan

'TIna We Salute You' is a cracking little coffee shop in Dalston. Great coffee and cakes! Should be on the list!

Goodies Carol
Goodies Carol

Try the Coming Soon on 20 Goswell Road - hands down better than most. Super attentive to the process and no letdowns.

Chris
Chris

If you're in EC4, pop into Grace St. Paul's which is on Creed Lane. Phil makes a truly excellent cup of coffee, often using interesting and unique blends from both the UK and further afield.

sara
sara

'Euston Tap', in one iof the gatehouses outside Euston station, gets my vote for brilliant coffee, the barista (trained by Gwilym Davie, world barista champion) makes consistently excellent coffee. the best in this area of London.

Guy Wilmot
Guy Wilmot

Sea Island Coffee is near South Kensington and specialises in rare and exotic coffees like Jamaica Blue Mountain and Kopi Luwak. Their website is at www.seaislandcoffee.com

Stava
Stava

Ditto to on the Goodbench in Clapham... lucky for me they have just opened up a store in Brixton off coldhabour lane in the Arcade (next to rosies)! Say no to starbucks

Jay
Jay

Vida e caffe in Golden Square Soho. Any South Africans will know what i'm talking about! Amazing coffee, i'm a meia convert! And made by a Zulu! You don't get that anywhere else in London :-)

Marcel
Marcel

No 26 in Rathbone Place has the best flat white I have ever had! Highly recommended!

AS
AS

Presumably the 'tea is the only beverage' drinkers consume only fine english fare too-cucumber sandwiches, game pie etc? None of that foreign muck?

DON
DON

Tea Tea Tea - less than impressed with the gullable lapping up of yet another Yank fad - I watch people going to work who become very aggressive once they have downed that brown sludge - Nice

Selma
Selma

TwoDays Coffee, St Michael's Hill, Bristol - we buy our freshly roasted beans here and grind them at home - makes yummy and aromatic, espresso, capuccino, latte. Cafe: Cafe Havana, Cotham Hill, Bristol - best coffee in town!

Clinton
Clinton

The Goodbench at Clapham Common.... amazing...and (unsurprisingly) staffed by Antipodean baristas who clearly know what they are doing.....

enrica
enrica

why don t u try my espresso or cappuccino??????u ll dream about it!!and....try my cakes and pasta!!! i made it!cafe 43 market place rm1 3ab romford

Peter
Peter

Caravan on Exmouth market has amazing coffee. They have a great selection of beans and all is roasted in their huge on site roaster which can be seen in downstairs. Great brunch on Sunday morning as well.

SalS
SalS

Corelli's - Battersea Park Road - enough said x

Abi
Abi

Could anyone recommend a food coffee place (mainly for latte) around Maida Vale, Little Venice and St John's Wood area??

kim
kim

The best coffee on Braodway Market, Hackney is in the bike repair cafe overlooking the canal. They use Monmouth coffee and the intensity and flavour is just perfect. The people who work there are lovely and you can always get a coffee while they fix your bike.

gary
gary

Even the so calòled expert is using the term flat white. Yeh thats expert.Its like those who say latte =it just means milk in Italian and by the way miost of the coffee in Milan is shite as well.The best coffee is made with a simple Italian cofffee machine, the one yoiu break in two. expresso coffee in bars is way infierior

gary
gary

most of the comments here are poseurs. I mean what sense is there in repeating the nonsensical term flat white?

Annie
Annie

Everyone must get down to Federation Coffee in Brixton Markets asap. Phenomenal coffee. Very exciting for all coffee lovers south of the river.

gary.
gary.

LIVE IN MILAN

Sloper
Sloper

Gary, who are you, what are your credentials? You presume to know more than anyone here, without even knowing anything about them.

clarissa
clarissa

the flat white is actually what a normal cappuccino in italy is. people are behaving like it;s just been invented.! the cappuccions we normally get served in london are a crime against coffee! try the bottega in Ebury street victoria, great coffee, lots of italians around & therefore a good sign and don't order a cappuccino after 11am!

Sally Clarke
Sally Clarke

Bordering on London (Greater London I guess) is Soko Coffee www.sokocoffee.co.uk. It's my coffee destination every morning before heading to Farringdon on the train. The owner is a young girl who always has a smile on her face and can make a mean coffee. Check it out Charmaine!

Cathy
Cathy

Gary, you seem to be getting out of hand. The kind of abusive language you are using about a light e-chat about coffee is out or order and ridiculous. I've reported your comment as inappropriate. You don't need to take part if it upsets you this much.

Charmaine
Charmaine

Hi EasyE, if you click on the coffee map you will find all the places I have visited in London. More will be added, I'm sure, as I find time to fit them all in my heavily-caffeinated days! Yes, Flat White, Nude et al are in there but it's in my humble opinion that others in their areas came out better in terms of consistency and quality.

Cathy
Cathy

The thing about Espresso Room in Great Ormond Street is that the coffee (for me, latte) NEVER disappoints. To be able to rely on my daily coffee being as good as yesterday's and as good again tomorrow, brightens my day considerably. Most of the reviews of other places record unreliability. And now the porridge and soup and sandwiches are worth coming for as well.

Janis
Janis

I feel slightly left out, having never tried a Flat White :( Anyhow, I've been sampling coffee all over North London for 7 years now and until now I've always been pretty disappointed... until Dan & DeCarlo (mentioned by a few others here) popped up in East Finchley last August and was instantly embraced by the locals. Danny's coffee is the best I've had in a long long time & the place is always full of friendly faces. If you haven't yet been, you should.

Tim Chester
Tim Chester

I was rambling round london's coffee shops for thirtyoneseventyfive.com at the same time as you, and though that Milk Bar was the best, and Sacred the worst.

cafe lover
cafe lover

I think Trattoria Sapori, in north London should be listed, they use illy and they know how to make the best espre/cafe latte in this part of london thats for sure

EasyE
EasyE

Hey Charmaine, Thanks for the replies. It's a good article, but is there any reason why a web article can't be expanded to include write ups of all the places you went to? You're not limited to physical magazine format here. A lot of people are confused about whether you went to places or not. e.g. many people keep suggesting you check out Flat White, Monmouth, and Nude. Or perhaps list an appendix for places that are worth going to. i.e. the ones listed: yes. "Fresh", outside Whitechapel station: no as they merely hand out a cup of burning.

Dave
Dave

Well I never. Visited the much revered Monmouth today, queued for about 10mins to find this SHOCKER: "Sorry we only use organic whole milk".... I love milk, so much in fact I started the day today with a pint of banana quik - but my girlfriend is lactose intolerant so went without her flat white at monMOOOOOth - not as cool as they obviously think they are.

Sarah M.
Sarah M.

I have to wonder how they decide which coffee shops to visit? There is a new cafe that opened down the street from our flat called The Grind (79 Lower Richmond road). I'm not going to give a fanciful definition of a good cup of coffee because we all know the expectation it creates- instead, let me just say it won't let you down. I go there at least three times a week. Also, I had a slice of the best pear & almond tart there that I've ever had!

gary
gary

most of you know nothing about coffee so stick to tea.It'll save you from Alzeimy as well. Stick to the things you know and leave stir fries alone as well

Ruth
Ruth

You have got to check out Federation in Brixton Village Market. It's worth the trip to Brixton alone.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Gary sounds like a bit of a knob

Teaboy
Teaboy

I think the reviewer should consider significantly reducing his caffeine intake. 'Bouquet of wonderful fruits'? 'Striking notes of orange oil'? 'The beans signature profile of apricots and citrus'? 'Commendable mellowness and length in the finish'? Blimey.

Joe O'Donoghue
Joe O'Donoghue

All I can say is - thank you for promoting the coffee culture in London Town. Being a Sydney-sider, living in London - I have had to wait for my trips to Italy to have a decent coffee. I could never understand why a country only two hours away by plane, can have a coffee that is so much better than that in London. For too long, it has been too hard to find a decent coffee here. In Sydney, we wake up to brilliant Flat Whites (where that is all most people drink!) every day - A bad coffee is handed back to barista - "poor it again please, Sam.". Thank you too for making your standard measurement the antipodean creation, the flat white. It's brilliant to see London baristas embracing this southern hemisphere gem, championed in the brilliant coffee captials for Melbourne and Sydney. Finally - I was lucky enough to down in RIchmond last week for a meeting, and went out of my way to stop at Sourced / Taylor St Baristas. I showed the barista your article, and she said "that was my hand in the photo!" Classic. Anyway - without doubt one of the best coffees I have ever had. Full stop.

Gary
Gary

Lets get one thing straight, theres no such thing as Italian Coffee as there are no Coffee plants in Italy. While we are talking theres no such thing as Parma Ham as I don't know if you noticed but pigs are thin on the ground in the area(It all comes in from Germany as regards the future hams) Same thing with Gran Rovagnti and did you you know that Parmesan is anything but Italian, again all the milk to make it comes in from Germany and Denmark (Denmark for the ham too). Parmesan was also started by English herds brought from the U.K. So Pseuds corner stick to good old English coffee in a caff and yeah Cheddar!!!!Don't pay over the top to satisfy that fascist pseudo in you.Check out The WORLD on blogger

Nili
Nili

Wow, can't believe the Time Out people covered the East End and totally failed to mention the Market Coffee House on Brushfield St, near Spitalfields Market! Their coffee is so darn good there are often queues to get a table and it's full of Italian regulars who know it's one of the only places in town where you can get a good cappuccino in the right size cup, the correct temperature with perfect froth and a nutty, rich aroma. I even met a guy there who makes a point of going there for coffee whenever he is in north of the river - he lives in Wimbledon - now that's dedication!

roy fox
roy fox

The staff and the coffee are great at Milk Bar. For atmosphere I love Ray's Jazz Cafe. To sit chilled with a big armchair and wireless connection is heaven.

xavier
xavier

The amazing Latino market at Seven Sisters is not on the list but then it has been a year since Time Out did an artical on the place. It has not just one stall to great great coffee at bargain prices but several. Plus you can get Pao de Queijo to dunk. There is a coffee and juice stall at the back where you can get a bowl of white strong coffee and cheese bread for just £2. Should be in Time out's Cheap eating and drinking guide before it is knocked down.

Christelle
Christelle

@ Gareth Evans thank you for you support, we do our best! (at Venetia's coffee shop) nice to see you're appreciate it.

Edd
Edd

Well done Jeremiah! oh and Gwil. Now i want to see The Remedial Nymphs producing the official Prufrock theme tune!!

Howard
Howard

All these places and no LJ Coffee in Soho! Come on Time Out, you are missing one of the very best!