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    BEST IN EAST

    Prufrock CoffeeDoesn't rest on its laurels | Beautiful espresso machine | Flawless foamed milk artworkGwilym Davies, the World Barista Champion of 2009, can be found all around London but his current base is as co-owner of this coffee shop at the front of a menswear shop in Shoreditch. But to judge coffee quality solely on the skills of its cover star would be naive – in fact, Davies was not even present during our first visit. As a testament to the skills of all who work at Prufrock, we think the coffee here is second to none in east London. An impressive chrome Victoria Arduino Athena Classic espresso machine is fitted with ‘naked’ portafilter baskets, through which we can see steady streams of espresso flow into cups like creamy, golden honey. The pull-lever mechanism (as opposed to modern push-button operations) requires a good hand, but we need not have worried. A shot of (Square Mile winter blend) espresso was smooth and complex, with a touch of salted almond in the beginning melding seamlessly into sweet ripe apricots and a refreshing sharp finish. Both a flat white and a cortado (half milk, half espresso) were topped with a clear-cut rosetta and heart respectively, and proved to be smooth as silk. Present, 140 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JE (020 7033 0500). Old St tube/rail. 10.30am-6pm Mon-Fri; 10.30am-5pm Sat, Sun.

    Counter Café
    Utter dedication to coffee | Sweet, fresh-tasting milk | Fresh grinds

    This bohemianesque Hackney Wick café has great coffee (Square Mile’s winter blend on our visit), ground to order and deftly extracted via the spotless La Marzocco. Its espresso was deeply aromatic, with sweet notes of roasted black tea leaves and wood smoke, a note of tangerine and dark chocolate and a zip of acidity. This one was well rounded on the palate, without the distracting sharpness than can occur with less successful pulls. A flat white was more muted – very light in colour with mild caramel undertones.
    4a Roach Rd, E3 2PA (07952 696388/www.thecountercafe.co.uk). Hackney Wick rail or 339, 488 bus. 7.30am-5.30pm Mon-Wed, Fri; 7.30am-11pm Thur; 8.30am-5.30pm Sat; 9.30am-5pm Sun. Espresso £1.40, flat white £2.

    Wilton’s
    Organic milk | Locally roasted Climpson & Sons beans | Sizes clearly stated

    One of the funkier new kids on the block, Wilton’s is as laid-back in atmosphere as it is serious about coffee. They’re loyal to local roaster Climpson & Sons and employ its seasonal roast. Here, the ristretto is less pronounced in mulled fruit notes and higher in dark smoky aromas, syrupy textures and toasty, walnut-like flavours. The crema was flatter, with slight speckling, but overall taste and aroma were agreeable. A caffè latte ‘7 3/4oz’ was middle of the road, being a touch too milky (even for a supposedly shorter latte). The flat whites are consistently better.
    63 Wilton Way, E8 1BG (020 7249 0444). Hackney Central rail or D6, 106, 254 bus. 8am-6pm Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat, Sun. Espresso £1, latte £2.

    Climpson & Sons
    Own-roasted beans and seasonal espressos | Super coffee geekery | Variety of coffees

    Dedication and a sense of fun is what makes C&S stand out – securing ‘naked’ La Marzocco portafilters (so baristas can see straight away if they’ve pulled a good shot) was a day worthy of celebration for these guys. Espresso-wise, we were intrigued by their latest blend, a rounded, intense roast with deep fruit flavours (blackberry, cherry, persimmon), spicy cloves and a whiff of tobacco smoke at the back of the throat. We’d go back for this, though a flat white needed improvement – the foamed milk a bit too bubbly in texture, more like a bobbly sweater than sleek cashmere.
    67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH (020 7812 9829/www.webcoffeeshop.co.uk). London Fields rail or 26, 48, 55 bus. Espresso £1.40, flat white £2.

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This bohemianesque Hackney Wick café has great coffee (Square Mile’s winter blend on our visit), ground to order and deftly extracted via the spotless La Marzocco. Its espresso was deeply aromatic, with sweet notes of roasted black tea leaves and wood smoke, a note of tangerine and dark chocolate and a zip of acidity. This one was well rounded on the palate, without the distracting sharpness than can occur with less successful pulls. A flat white was more muted – very light in colour with mild caramel undertones.One of the funkier new kids on the block, Wilton’s is as laid-back in atmosphere as it is serious about coffee. They’re loyal to local roaster Climpson & Sons and employ its seasonal roast. Here, the ristretto is less pronounced in mulled fruit notes and higher in dark smoky aromas, syrupy textures and toasty, walnut-like flavours. The crema was flatter, with slight speckling, but overall taste and aroma were agreeable. A caffè latte ‘7 3/4oz’ was middle of the road, being a touch too milky (even for a supposedly shorter latte). The flat whites are consistently better. Dedication and a sense of fun is what makes C&S stand out – securing ‘naked’ La Marzocco portafilters (so baristas can see straight away if they’ve pulled a good shot) was a day worthy of celebration for these guys. Espresso-wise, we were intrigued by their latest blend, a rounded, intense roast with deep fruit flavours (blackberry, cherry, persimmon), spicy cloves and a whiff of tobacco smoke at the back of the throat. We’d go back for this, though a flat white needed improvement – the foamed milk a bit too bubbly in texture, more like a bobbly sweater than sleek cashmere.Central | North | East | South | West | The Winner | Map

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