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    BEST IN NORTH

    Merito coffee stallStunning range of choice | Expertly textured milk | Covered seating next to the stallIan Cameron mans the espresso machine at this mobile stall, turning out finely crafted coffees, both espresso-based and filter. His signature flat white is worth crossing town for, with sweet, velvety milk you can almost chew. Also arresting was a cup of Monsooned Malabar filter coffee, a mild brew with musk and spice notes – we detected vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. A shot of espresso (a secret blend of five beans from west London’s Coffee Plant roastery) really packed in zippy lemony flavours; a deep, dark complexion and golden crema made it look the part. With a flat white coming in at £1.70, espresso at £1 and filter coffee at £1.50 these are some of the best-value brews in town.Swiss Cottage Market, Eton Avenue, NW3 3EU. 8.30am-3pm Wed, Fri. Swiss Cottage tube. Also at Broadway Market, E8. 8.30am-4pm Sat. Espresso £1, flat white £1.70.

    Tina, We Salute You
    Coffee not hidden by swathes of milk | Does milky coffee too | No loyalty cards, but a regulars’ ‘wall’

    Here, the magic comes from Square Mile beans and a shiny, top-notch La Marzocco machine. Our barista pulled the perfect shot. A tiny glass housed our gleaming ristretto (a ‘short’ espresso), with a slick crema that looked the part. Upon tasting, notes of tangerine and treacle danced on the palate, leaving behind a lingering finish. The ristretto coated the tongue luxuriously, despite its deceptively light body. The same coffee, lengthened into a long black, revealed different positives: dark, juicy flavours such as apricot and black cherries. Bravo!
    47 King Henry’s Walk, N1 4NH (Tina, We Salute You). 30, 38, 67, 76, 149, 243, 277 bus. 8am-8pm Tue-Sat; 10am-7pm Sun. Espresso £1.50, long black £2.

    Ginger & White
    Doesn’t ‘do grande’ | Top-class nibbles | Child-friendly

    A shot of Square Mile’s seasonal espresso (the ubiquitous winter blend) was jarring to the palate on our most recent visit, with a sharpness and unusually overbearing acidity; the delicate bitter candied orange peel and sweet marmalade flavours were lost. Transformed into a flat white, the sharpness was tempered and a buttery mellowness was brought out, but the end result was missing something – it lacked body and had a rough texture. We’ve had far better coffees here, so this was an unexpected disappointment.
    4a-5a Perrins Court, NW3 1QS (020 7431 9098/www.gingerandwhite.com). Hampstead tube. 7.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri; 8.30am-5.30pm Sat, Sun. Espresso £1.70, flat white £2.30.

    Indie coffee
    Shots can be served in proper glassware | Market atmosphere | Student discount

    Peter Duggam is still learning his craft, but we sense he’s capable of great things. A former staff member at the now defunct Coffee@ chain, the lad set up his unique Sumatran cart on Church Street in St John’s Wood about four months ago. La Marzocco: check; Square Mile (winter blend): check; Anfim grinder: check. Duggam recommends the cappuccino, which was spot-on in terms of flavour (with soothing whiffs of hazelnut) but, without enough foam, veered dangerously close to becoming a latte. However, these were small gripes; his espresso was tame and mellow in the best way.
    50 Church St, NW8 8EP. Edgware Rd tube. 8am-3pm Tue-Thur. Espresso £1, flat white £1.90.

    Ottolenghi
    Well-sourced coffee | Delectable deli fare | Quality ingredients

    Many column inches have been dedicated to Yotam Ottolenghi’s vivacious style of cookery, but the coffee here isn’t – like in many other successful café-restaurants – a mere afterthought. Serving Square Mile’s winter blend, the baristas brought out the best aspects of the coffee by way of a cappuccino: smooth, roasted nut flavours. While technically the foam-to-coffee ratio could have been higher, the cup came artfully dusted with cocoa and decorated with a perfectly formed rosetta. The espresso had, unfortunately, weak and thin crema and a tannic aftertaste.
    287 Upper St, N1 2TZ (020 7288 1454). Angel tube. 8am-11pm Mon-Sat; 9pm-7pm Sun. Espresso £1.40, cappuccino £2.30.

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Here, the magic comes from Square Mile beans and a shiny, top-notch La Marzocco machine. Our barista pulled the perfect shot. A tiny glass housed our gleaming ristretto (a ‘short’ espresso), with a slick crema that looked the part. Upon tasting, notes of tangerine and treacle danced on the palate, leaving behind a lingering finish. The ristretto coated the tongue luxuriously, despite its deceptively light body. The same coffee, lengthened into a long black, revealed different positives: dark, juicy flavours such as apricot and black cherries. Bravo! A shot of Square Mile’s seasonal espresso (the ubiquitous winter blend) was jarring to the palate on our most recent visit, with a sharpness and unusually overbearing acidity; the delicate bitter candied orange peel and sweet marmalade flavours were lost. Transformed into a flat white, the sharpness was tempered and a buttery mellowness was brought out, but the end result was missing something – it lacked body and had a rough texture. We’ve had far better coffees here, so this was an unexpected disappointment. Peter Duggam is still learning his craft, but we sense he’s capable of great things. A former staff member at the now defunct Coffee@ chain, the lad set up his unique Sumatran cart on Church Street in St John’s Wood about four months ago. La Marzocco: check; Square Mile (winter blend): check; Anfim grinder: check. Duggam recommends the cappuccino, which was spot-on in terms of flavour (with soothing whiffs of hazelnut) but, without enough foam, veered dangerously close to becoming a latte. However, these were small gripes; his espresso was tame and mellow in the best way. Many column inches have been dedicated to Yotam Ottolenghi’s vivacious style of cookery, but the coffee here isn’t – like in many other successful café-restaurants – a mere afterthought. Serving Square Mile’s winter blend, the baristas brought out the best aspects of the coffee by way of a cappuccino: smooth, roasted nut flavours. While technically the foam-to-coffee ratio could have been higher, the cup came artfully dusted with cocoa and decorated with a perfectly formed rosetta. The espresso had, unfortunately, weak and thin crema and a tannic aftertaste.Central | North | East | South | West | The Winner | Map

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