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


  • Central
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    Central


    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

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