The eight types of independent coffee shops you’ll find in London

Coffee aficionado Daniel Stevens reveals the eight different types of independent coffee shops in the capital
By Time Out London contributor |

Daniel Stevens set himself the challenge of drinking 100 cups of coffee at 100 different independent coffee shops in London for his blog We asked him about what he’d learnt on his caffeinated journey around the capital.  

‘A year ago, I was fresh to London battling to survive. Fumbling to find my ground, I decided to set myself a challenge: visit 100 independent coffee shops and photograph a coffee at each. Little did I know that this undertaking would happen whilst London’s coffee scene exploded. The city is quickly becoming an artisan coffee powerhouse due to the sheer diversity that’s appeared. Here are eight categories of coffee shops you might be able to stumble upon.’

The eight types of independent coffee shops you’ll find in London

The Community Favourites

‘On weekends, you’ll find these places completely packed with locals, the odd pram and a warm atmosphere. These coffee shops have built themselves around their communities and have quickly become neighbourhood staples.’

Check out: Leila’s Shop (Shoreditch), Fred & Fran (Stoke Newington), Haberdashery (Crouch End), Artisan Coffee (Stamford Book), Leya’s (Camden), Electric Coffee Co (Ealing).


The Well Rounded Giants

‘Roasts their own coffee? Check. Does table service? Check. Does incredible food? Check. If you didn’t know better, you could easily mistake these coffee shops as gourmet restaurants. The fact that they roast their own coffee, in central London, is a feat unto itself.’

Check out: Caravan (King’s Cross & Exmouth Market), Workshop Coffee(Clerkenwell), Ozone Coffee (Old Street).

The Coffee Empires

‘Some independents have expanded significantly in only a few or even a couple of years. Each bring their own distinct style which makes them worth visiting in their own right. From TAP Coffee’s wooden interior to Fernandez & Well’s focus on premier European food and wine. The Coffesmiths Collective has five stunning shops, each with their own breath-taking creative designs.’

Check out: Notes, Nude Espresso, Fernandez & Wells, Bea’s, Taylor Street Baristas, TAP Coffee, Coffeesmiths Collective.


The Groundbreakers

‘A recent string of openings have really pushed the limits of what a coffee shop can do. Tower 47 combines music, art and coffee, the Guardian newspaper have teamed up with Nude to open a coffee shop, nested in a barber’s you’ll find Dunne and Frankowski latest creation and take a picture in front of the Great Pyramids holding a Four Corner’s loyalty card and you’ll get a free lunch.’

Check out: Tower 47 (Camden), #GuardianCoffee (Shoreditch), Sharp’s Coffee Bar(Bloomsbury), Rapha’s Cycle Club (Soho), Four Corners (Waterloo), Timberyard(Covent Garden).

The Old Guard

‘In 2009, London’s coffee scene faced a “third wave.” These were coffee shops that raised the bar of what was regarded as artisan coffee. Their names have almost become legendary- like some type of mystical coffee unicorn and their baristas have gone to open a new generation of coffee shops.’

Check out: Kaffeine (Oxford Circus), Prufrock Coffee (Leather Lane), Dose Espresso (Barbican), Tina We Salute You (Dalston).


Coffee To Go

‘Ode to the barista at the coffee stall and coffee cart. Braving cold to always bring us fresh coffee on the go in premier locations in London regardless of the weather.’

Examples: Noble Espresso (King’s Cross), Giddy Up, Notes Coffee Barrow, Bean About Town (Southbank).

The Eccentric Ones

‘Places with character. Because why not have melted chandaliers or your own radio station in a coffee shop? Or simply convert an old Victorian toilet. Also, follow Brick Lane Coffee on Twitter (@bricklanecoffee) if you dare.’

Check out: Wilton Way Café (Dalston), Brick Lane Coffee (Brick Lane), Fix Coffee(Shoreditch), Slate (Shoreditch), the Attendant (Fitzrovia).

‘London’s independent coffee scene is becoming one of the capital’s hidden gems. Let’s make it one of the best in the world. Help support your local independent coffee shop and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same’. Daniel Stevens