London's best cafés and coffee shops

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    • Browns of Brockley

      5 Coulgate Street, London, SE4 2RW

      On the former site of chichi deli Dandelion Blue is this funky café/deli/coffee bar run by friendly twentysomethings (and their popular pug, Ludd). The coffee is from Square Mile and there's a long wooden communal table for chinwagging and paper-reading. Read more

  • Deptford Project

    21-123 Deptford High St, SE8 4NS (07545 593279/ www.thedeptfordproject.com). Deptford rail or Deptford Bridge DLR.

    This train carriage-cum-café off the rough-and-tumble of Deptford High Street is a hoot and is everything you might expect from the arty south-east London area. The din and crowds from the lively street market usually distracts from the brightly painted wagon, but look carefully for the raised carriage and smooth wooden steps that lead up to the patio and entrance. The Deptford Project is adorned with art inside and out (changing every so often as different artists take over): bright psychedelic colours and spaghetti-string lampshades, a garden shed/loo shrine to Elvis. Fairtrade coffee, full breakfasts and notable cakes and confections sweeten the deal. There’s a real feeling of community spirit here, too – the project was conceived by creative consultancy Raw Nerve and Cathedral Group as an aim to create a focal point for the area’s denizens as well as kicking off a series of regeneration works in Deptford. A unique space hidden away in one of the most vibrant creative hubs in the capital. Read more

  • Federation Coffee

    Unit 46, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS (www.federationcoffee.com). Brixton tube/rail.

    Gritty SW9 may now have a Starbucks, but this little coffee shop hidden away in Brixton Village Market continues to serve those who want to support local businesses instead. And it's easy to see which is the more intriguing – it's a funky, if small, space that serves Nude Espresso coffee (see East) and a small range of daily changing pastries, cakes and brownies. Read more

  • London Particular

    399 New Cross Rd, London, SE14 6LA

    The name of this New Cross café refers to the thick 'peasouper' fogs of the nineteenth century. Appropriately, the food offerings seem to combat any potential cold mists, with 'bowl food' (erm, food served in comforting portions in bowls) being the USP. The coffee is sourced from Higgins Coffee, who have created a bespoke 'Particular' blend for the café. A real asset to the area, and is often buzzing with students from nearby Goldsmiths College. Read more

  • Monmouth Coffee Company

    2 Park St, Borough Market, SE1 9AB (7940 9960/www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk). London Bridge tube/rail. 34 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA (9am-2pm Sat).

    The filter coffees are the ones to sample. The large communal tables in the middle of the room are perfect for huddling over a cup, though be wary that this branch can really be packed to the rafters come weekends. Head to their other venue on Maltby Street on Saturdays for a quieter experience. Read more

  • No 67

    South London Gallery, 67 Peckham Rd, SE5 8UH (020 7252 7649/ www.

    The entire ground floor of the newly refurbished South London Gallery is given over to a terrific café serving (in their own words, and we'd agree) 'really good food and really good coffees'. A daily changing menu of dishes, small plates and sandwiches defies the museum caff norm, with items such as ox heart stew or mackerel with beetroot and new potato salad. Brunches are proving popular with the locals too. Read more

  • Ragged Canteen

    Beaconsfield, Newport St, SE11 6AY (7758 6465/www.beaconsfield.ltd.uk/cafe). Vauxhall tube/rail.

    Its name is no misnomer – very much Spartan in decor and with a frills-free, crypt aesthetic, the Ragged Canteen is a blissful spot to unwind. Red and white checkered wipe-clean tablecloths and bright red plastic chairs offer shots of much-needed colour, while the pour-your-own jugs of tap water and cheerful service lend the caff a convivial vibe. Coffee’s from Monmouth and there’s an assortment of freshly prepared food made from quality ingredients – we’ve enjoyed everything from gözleme (filled Turkish flatbreads) to rhubarb and polenta cake for cheap. It’s perfect for a quiet spot of cake nibbling and tea sipping – the café’s located inside the Beaconsfield art exhibition building, and you’ll need to ring a buzzer to get in. With not much passing trade, this is one for those in the know. Read more

  • Roastery

    789 Wandsworth Rd, SW8 3JQ (7350 1961). Wandsworth Rd rail or bus 87.

    A south London spin-off of the Bullet coffee chain, also run by Kiwis. The beans, as the name of the café suggests, are roasted in-store. A selection of newspapers and magazines are always available for a bit of mid-morning coffee. Read more

  • St David Coffee House

    5 David's Rd, London, SE23 3EP (020 8291 6646). Forest Hill rail or 122, 185 bus.

    A bounce away from Forest Hill station, this higgeldy-piggeldy café is a tiny but cosy venue serving the best coffee in the area. Wisteria-clad and shielded from the main road by potted plants, there's a serene atmosphere at off-peak hours, when you can enjoy a perfectly frothed cup of coffee (served in mismatched crockery) and take your pick from a counter covered with cakes, brownies and pastries. A book exchange, handmade cards and local chutneys for sale gives this place real character. Read more

  • Scootercaffè

    132 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7AE

    A coffee shop in a former Vespa repair garage? Italophiles will have already sniffed it out, but for the most part this unique little café down on grubby Lower Marsh is a real London discovery. So it might still look like a repair shop, with a well-loved Vespa scooter still sitting in the window, but clock the tables and vintage Faema espresso machine inside and you’ll realise this is no longer somewhere to get your carburettor cleaned. Even though in the daytime the streets are usually deserted, you’ll find this café buzzing with young coffee-suppers and other dapper clientele. The rickety wooden chairs and tables lends the place a scruffy charm, compounded by an array of vintage clocks, helmets and retro Vespa signs. A wandering moggy is well-loved by regulars, who often look out for the furry critter. There’s not much in the way of sustenance, but the BYOF policy (that is, bring-your-own-food) is a winner – just remember to clean up after yourself, okay? At night, Scootercaffè transforms into a buzzing bar to boot. Read more


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