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cafes and coffee shops in london, espresso rooms

London’s best cafés

The capital caffs shops we actually rate

Joe Mackertich
Written by
Time Out London Food & Drink
&
Joe Mackertich
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Do you like coffee? Trick question: everyone likes coffee. Apart from that small group who prefer tea. And that even smaller group who ‘don’t do hot drinks’ (strange). London, obviously, has a great many cafés, but how to choose? We've got normal ones and really posh ones. Massive ones and tiny ones. Bad ones and good ones.

This list is our attempt to group together all the good ones. This isn’t about who has the fanciest beans or the most enjoyably knowledgable/patronising baristas. It’s about what venues work for us. Where do we want to while away a few hours, pretending the real world doesn’t exist?    

RECOMMENDED: London’s best coffee shops.

London's best cafés

Antipode
  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Hammersmith

On a mission to bring some Melbourne magic to the streets of Hammersmith, this cool Aussie café brews up some terrific stuff. It uses Square Mile’s Red Brick beans for espresso and serves inventive brunch-style food – its kimchi-and-cheddar toastie is a best-seller. Just add some ace craft beers and natural wines.

Antipodea
  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Kew

This easy-breezy mini-chain of Aussie cafés has three locations, in Richmond, Kew and Putney. Pop in to any one of them (we especially like the Kew branch) for smashing breakfasts and consistently good coffee, plus fresh juices, smoothies and boozy brunch cocktails.

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Artisan
  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Goldhawk Road

With branches in Ealing, Putney and East Sheen, Artisan is on the up and this Stamford Brook outlet is a credit to the neighbourhood with its pleasant vibe, enormous windows and down-home furnishings. Close your eyes and you could be in Shoreditch as you sip a perfect espresso made with Allpress beans.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Battersea

As effortlessly chilled as they come, Birdhouse is the Clapham coffee bar of your dreams – everything is intended to soothe, staff are lovely, the sandwiches are great and the warm banana bread is nigh-on irresistible. Partnered with a perfect espresso, it’s a guaranteed cure for those rainy-day blues.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Nine Elms
  • price 1 of 4

Formerly a pop-up espresso bar in a converted taxi, this now-permanent café by the Thames has a coffee roaster in its dining area constantly pumping out beans. The menu offers much more than java, though – try the spicy iced chai (you can even add a shot of vodka, if you like). There’s a proper brunch menu, too.

Boys ’n’ Berry
  • Restaurants
  • Global
  • Fulham
  • price 1 of 4

Fulham’s chattering classes have a new HQ in the shape of Boys ’n’ Berry – a bang-on-trend café focusing on wholesome food and coffee, with plenty of cake on the side. It specialises in double-shot organic brews (from espressos upwards) with matcha lattes and almond milk.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Archway

From the quirky décor to the massive windows giving a full view of the Archway scene, B&B is perfect if you’re looking for a leisurely break. There’s just one blend of coffee on offer, but it’s decent enough – especially with back-up from cooked breakfasts, sandwiches, salads and home-baked cakes.

Brunswick East
  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Dalston

In the courtyard of Dalston’s creative hub, this Aussie-owned gem mixes cosy industrial/studio vibes with a serious attitude to coffee. House beans are sourced from Alchemy, guest names appear on rotation and there’s an equally alluring Antipodean-style menu, plus there are ceramic exhibits and weekend brunch/yoga sessions for the wholesome extroverts.

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Bühler & Co
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Walthamstow
  • price 2 of 4

A serene Antipodean hangout (with some Scandi-chic add-ons), Bühler & Co is a brunch beacon for the baby-toting denizens of Walthamstow and a popular stop-off for coffee too. Good provenance also abounds across the sodas, booze and excellent veggie/vegan menu – welcome to the wholesome ‘good life’.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Portobello Road
  • price 1 of 4

If the very idea of ‘healthy eating in Notting Hill’ fills you with dread, fear not: this branch of the cute café mini-chain from titular Aussie-born ‘farm girl’ Rose Mann is a little ripper. Colourful interiors and non-stop sunny service are matched by a healthy menu bursting with vibrant, zingy ingredients. Coffee and cake is a bit different too. 

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Flotsam & Jetsam
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Wandsworth

Forget beachcombing, this oddly named Aussie-style café by Wandsworth Common is all about healthy eats and artisan drinks. Expect everything from coco-melon bircher muesli to ‘chorizo scramble’, alongside cakes, pastries, Allpress coffee, tea by T2, turmeric chai and matcha lattes, Karma Colas and much else besides.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Highbury
  • price 1 of 4

It’s all about tea and cake at Highness Café, a homely spot in Highbury with mismatched wooden tables and a menu that’s written on a chalkboard above the counter. Expect the likes of thick peanut-butter brownies, iced blood-orange cakes and plump sultana scones.

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House of Morocco
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Caledonian Road
  • price 2 of 4

This tiny café on Caledonian Road is like the ‘Cheers’ of King’s Cross: everybody knows your name and most of the customers are regulars. There are eccentric patterns on every surface and a small menu that’s packed with Moroccan-inspired delights, like excellent falafel wraps, super juices and lots of smoothies. The veggie quesadilla is ace, too.

Juliet's Quality Foods
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Tooting
  • price 1 of 4

Another Antipodean spot smashing out coffee and brunches, Juliet's Quality Foods (formerly known as Milk Teeth) is the light-and-bright younger sister to Balham’s much-loved Milk. Trendy breakfast dishes are the name of the game, like the fancy eggs benedict, made with sourdough and topped with buttery smoked eel. Just brilliant.

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Karaway Stratford
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Stratford
  • price 1 of 4

A legend on Borough Market and beyond, family-run Karaway Bakery is now selling its incredible award-winning rye breads and Eastern European cakes in a tiny café tucked away in Westfield Stratford. The choice is bewildering, but sampling is encouraged and it’s all backed up by decent coffee and sandwiches.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Old Street

Whether you’re on two wheels, four wheels or on foot, this friendly Old Street hangout attached to a bicycle repair shop is ‘wheely’ good (sorry!). All-comers park up here (especially at the weekend) and the whole place is a joy with its ample food offering and knowledgeable baristas.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Portobello Road
  • price 1 of 4

A tiny eccentrically decorated place with a total commitment to quality across the board, Lowry & Baker on Portobello Road is a local godsend. Food is served on a delightful jumble of unmatched crockery, but the perfectly brewed coffee – with beans from Monmouth – comes in well-warmed white cups.

Megan’s by the Green
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Global
  • Parsons Green
  • price 2 of 4

Megan’s by the Green is a popular spot in Parsons Green loved by yummy mummies and locals with dogs. It’s colourful and family-friendly inside and the menu has loads of great Levantine-style food like deconstructed kebabs and lamb meatballs with garlic butter.

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Notes
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Covent Garden

Notes has been here since 2011, peddling its house-roasted single-estate coffees to an eager crowd who pile in to the attractive room for excellent caffeine fixes backed by pastries, salads, charcuterie and Euro-style small plates. With Trafalgar Square just a couple of minutes away, Notes is well worth bookmarking.

Ole & Steen
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • St James’s

London’s love affair with Scandi bakeries continues with this outpost of Danish chain Ole & Steen – and what a feast it promises! Inside, it’s super-slick and definitely not hygge, although the food is the star: wonderfully dark chocolate swirls, apple pie, savoury rolls and – best of all – wickedly seductive cinnamon slices.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Soho

A laidback Soho haven with some of the nicest staff around, Rapha proves there’s more to the cycling/coffee pairing than Lance Armstrong-style performance enhancement. The café occupies half the space in a smart cycle clothing shop, with ample seating and a menu that’s a cut above – don’t miss its elaborate ‘super smoothies’.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • West Hampstead

A lovely neighbourhood café housed within West Hampstead’s Grade II-listed St James Church, the Sanctuary is now part of a community hub that includes a post office, gift shop and debt-advice centre. Coffee and cakes are all bang on the money. Note: on Sundays, the church is used as a church.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Tottenham Court Road

This relaxed mini-chain (with two cafés in Fitzrovia and another on Wardour Street) gets the formula spot-on: buy good coffee beans and treat them with respect; employ staff who know that a smile means a lot; charge reasonable prices for your sandwiches, salads and cakes. TAP’s so satisfying, you won’t want to leave.

Well Street Kitchen
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Homerton
  • price 1 of 4

This super-homey café in Hackney is popular with locals, and for good reason: the food is delicious and the staff are lovely. You’ll find café classics like smashed avocado on the menu, but the specials board is where it’s at: you can’t go past the never-fail soup of the day.

Now find a top-notch coffee shop

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