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.
Bike Shed Motorcycle Club
Just off the North Circular in Brent, the Ace Café is in its seventh decade serving up coffee, rolls and rock ’n’ roll to the leather-clad faithful. It’s the oldest biker bar in London. And the newest? Welcome to The Bike Shed: originally a blog and forum for custom bike nerds, now IRL and occupying two big railway arches right next to Shoreditch Town Hall. Alongside a shop selling biker bits and bobs (and a rockabilly barbershop) this Shed contains an upmarket cafe/bar/restaurant for bougie bikers and dedicated pedestrians alike. In fact, it’s only the faint smell of engine oil and the choppers parked up outside that give the game away. With a wooden bar up one side and red leather booths down the other, The Bike Shed looks like any other trendy arch-based London eatery. Burgers, bangers and other biker caff staples share a menu with superfood salads and detox juices. There’s an extensive breakfast/brunch selection, a long list of cocktails, and beers that range from Peroni to Beavertown, including non-alcoholic options for anyone actually on wheels. To drink after 8pm you need to either order food or become a member, which should keep the bikers safe from rowdy City boys. Both our burgers – one meat, one veggie – were accomplished and generous, piled high with onion rings and served in brioche buns with homemade gherkins and coleslaw. Crispy mushroom and polenta fritters made a great starter. Prices are decent for Shoreditch, and the portions are hefty enough to refuel e
Venue says: “For Europe's best independent custom motorcycle show, this May Bank Holiday, head to Bike Shed London at Tobacco Quay, Wapping.”