East London is a stomping ground for coffee enthusiasts, and we've rounded up our favourite cafés. Be tempted by a light brunch at Leila's Shop, a connoisseur's brew at Prufrock Coffee or something more hearty at Albion at The Boundary Project. Try Time Out's guide to the best cafés in Shoreditch to satisfy those early morning cravings.
East London: stomping ground of the coffee connoisseurs. No-one should pass through Shoreditch without a pilgrimage to Prufrock. What’s the big fuss? Mainly that the shiny Victoria Arduino espresso machine has been operated by top coffee names, from the 2009 Swedish Barista Champion Mattias Björklund to the UK’s first World Barista Champion, Gwylim Davies.
Albion describes itself somewhat self-consciously as a ‘caff’, but no greasy spoon in London was ever designed and owned by Terence Conran, and certainly none has its own maître d’. But in spirit, at least, it is something approaching a café for 21st-century Shoreditch – a place where locals can drop in for a casual breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Venue says: “Friendly Sunday cafe with delicious coffee, cakes and pastries. We also offer a fully bespoke cake, canape and wedding cake service.”
Lily Jones (aka Lily Vanilli) carved out a solid, celebrity-packed fan base well before opening her own bakery. Her foray into sculptural, macabre cake creations (roadkill cake, gingerbread gravestones, marzipan beetles) gave sweet treats a contemporary, anti-cute makeover and set her far apart from the mainstream cupcake clan.
This original branch of Nude just never stops being busy, even at times of the day that should be quiet. The enduring popularity has a pretty simple explanation: quality and (relative) consistency. That, plus a sizeable local catchment area encompassing business as well as residential custom.
The Soho branch of a chain of nine London venues evoking – yep, you guessed it – the classic US diner. That means an aesthetic nod to the '50s, mostly from booth seating, Chuck Berry posters and menu items advertised on a retro marquee. The food is diner fare too, albeit with plenty of dude-food influence. Expect, then, buttermilk pancakes, breakfast burritos and baskets of wings, corn dogs and tater tots with bacon and jalapeno alongside baby back ribs, fried pork and waffles and a large range of burgers and hot dogs. Desserts include a raspberry ripple cheesecake and banana splits. The drinks list offers a good craft beer selection, including drops from Camden Town Brewery, Beavertown, Brooklyn and Lagunitas. Hard shakes, cocktails, hard teas and a few wines also feature but if you're looking for drinks-that-double-as-desserts then a Snickers shake (three scoops of chocolate ice cream, Nutella, peanut butter and maple syrup) should just about do it.