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.
Friends of Ours
Coffee is key at this good-looking, independent, Hoxton café, roasts come from Dark Arts, there’s Moju raw pressed smoothies up for grabs, and an impressive selection of teas from Good & Proper. There’s a focus on the brunch/ breakfast vibe here, with dishes like salmon pastrami and folded eggs and matcha and cherry brioche French toast if you fancy something sweet. Prices aren’t extortionate and overall there’s a cosy atmosphere, with some token filament lightbulbs to boot.
Venue says: “Pimm's o'clock! For the whole month of June we're partnering with Pimm's. Four fabulous cocktails for you to enjoy with your brunch.”