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cafes and coffee shops in london, espresso rooms

London’s best cafés

The capital coffee 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 like hot drinks' (strange). London, obviously, has a great many cafes. 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 afore-mentioned good ones. This isn't about who's got the fanciest beans or the most enjoyably patronising barristas. It's about what venues work for us. Where do we want to wile away a few hours, pretending the real world doesn't exist?    

Watch our video below on five lovely locations for a spot of coffee:

London's best cafés

Antipodea
  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Kew

Reopening on July 14 

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

Antipode
  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Hammersmith

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

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Apres Food Co
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Clerkenwell
  • price 1 of 4

The owners of this gorgeous-looking Clerkenwell joint want us all to ‘make friends with food’ – and we’re certainly sold on the place, with its low-key backstreet vibe, pretty plants in pots and nutritionally balanced gluten-free cooking. Top marks for AFC’s luscious cakes and on-message drinks too.

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.

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  • 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 their warm banana bread is nigh-on irresistible. Partnered with a perfect espresso, it’s a guaranteed cure for those rainy-day blues.

  • 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 add a shot of vodka, if you like). There’s a proper brunch menu, too.

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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. They specialise in double-shot organic brews (from espressos upwards) with matcha lattes and almond milk offered as diet-sensitive alternatives.

  • 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.

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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.

Buhler and 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’.

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  • 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 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. 

Flotsam & Jetsam
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Wandsworth

Forget beachcombing, this oddly named Antipodean-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.

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  • 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.

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.

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Juliets Quality Food
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Tooting
  • price 1 of 4

Another Antipodean spot smashing out coffee and brunches, 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.

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

A legend on Borough Market and beyond, family-run Karaway 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.

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  • 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 and knowledgeable baristas.

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

A tiny, eccentrically decorated place with 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.

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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 dogs; colourful and family-friendly inside, the menu has loads of great Levantine-style food like deconstructed kebabs and lamb meatballs with garlic butter.

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 minutes away, Notes is well worth bookmarking.

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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.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Soho

A laid-back 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 their elaborate ‘super smoothies’.

Now find a top-notch coffee shop

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