9 places to drink coffee in London in 2022

Drinking Coffee in London

Last month I had the pleasure of my palate and my inquisitiveness to visit London and naturally took the opportunity to visit as many cafes as I could, whilst visiting some tried and tested ones too in the process. Despite having scorching temperatures with the hottest day ever recorded in London at 40C, I wasn’t discouraged on drinking my coffee hot nevertheless. One proviso – I was in around the West End a lot, so most of these cafes are near Oxford Street. So here we go.

Omotesando, 8 Newman Street, off Oxford Street (new)

Famous in Japan and not with an outlet in London, Omotesando has a very Japanese minimalist design. As you enter you are greeted with their loge in a kind of lobby space before you turn right into the cafe, decorated with wood and clean lines, decked with a La Marzocco Strada espresso machine. The coffee is more on the darkly roasted style, so probably best with milk, which is what I had – a flat white.

Hints of chocolate and caramel if my taste buds memory serves me well.

Workshop, St Christopher’s Place, off Oxford Street (classic)

I’ve been here many times since they opened several years ago and on this very hot day – it was 38C, I knew I needed “hot” coffee after wandering the streets of London looking for a birthday card for my mum (hint: it is now very difficult to buy a physical birthday card in London). I opted for a filter cup using Ethiopian beans as I wanted something fruity to refuel my body before my search. To be honest the barista wasn’t very attentive – perhaps he was suffering from the heat but luckily I knew that the coffee would be roasted and their non-committed method – using the toddy, wouldn’t extract too much effort in preparing my delicious tasting coffee.

Blank Street, Charlotte Street, off Oxford Street (new)

A taste of Brooklyn, NYC in London is how I would start this report. In short, Blank Street are quite famous in New York and have landed in London in a big way, with plans to open a few shops – they have a few in London already and I later found out that my son’s friend works for them. I was drawn to the colours of the brand I must confess and upon entering and not spotting a manual espresso machine I was about to leave, when the very friendly barista offered to serve me. After sharing that I was thinking of not ordering because of my snobbish preference for manually brewed coffee, he convinced me to try an espresso on their unique automatic machine for FREE – how could I say no.

I must confess this is probably the best looking and tasting espresso I have had on an automatic machine. I’m guessing they manually pour their milk and they have a few healthy options on their menu to tempt the trendy healthy types to make this their main to-go.

Kaffeine, Great Titchfield Street, off Oxford Street (classic)

A classic mainstay on the London specialty coffee scene, Kaffeine won best European coffee shop during their honeymoon years. Nevertheless , they still serve Squaremile coffee and prepare coffee properly. Again. it was a very busy hot day – this was the 40C day and we no air conditioner in cafes in London generally, the staff were a bit frazzled, making me a bit nervous when I placed my order for a cortado.

Glad that the heat and the business of the cafe didn’t disappoint and I’m glad that I satisfied my coffee craving that day here.

Kiss the Hippo, Canal Square, near Kings Cross (new)

Moving away from the West End now as our daughter wanted to show us another “happening” enclave in London, Canal Square in Kings Cross is an enclave of restaurants, a food market serving exotic foods and the future home of FaceBook HQ, London. On our way to discovering, I spotted this little pop-up cafe and instantly noticed the name, which I have known for a few years now. I went for a cortado – it was 37C

Nice and creamy with hints of milk chocolate and recommended if you are visiting Kings Cross, which also has Caravan – see next post.

Caravan, Granary Square, (classic)

I must confess, I didn’t have coffee here as I had just had coffee at kiss the hippo but nevertheless having coffee here will not disappoint. They have a huge space which incorporates a roastery (the inspiration for many coffee shops in London and beyond) a full restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had brunch and then I went in to look around and bought two bags of coffee (see previous post for my experience ).

Highly recommended for specialty coffee and dining, plus they have a great online store (I ordered many times when I lived in Europe).

Lantana, 13 Charlotte Street, off Goodge Street and near Oxford Street (classic)

Another one of London’s mainstay in the speciality coffee scene but one I never visited due to logistical reasons. They are famous for their breakfast and brunches and of course Aussie style coffees. This was literally my last experience on speciality coffee in London on my trip. As it was a nice summer’s day, we sat outside but inside is very cosy and I can imagine queues forming on a cold and windy day, as I had initially wanted to come here for breakfast but that’s another story. I decided to order a coffee and cake.

I must confess I sent my first cortado back as I didn’t like the infusion between the milk and espresso, but the second one was worth the fussiness.

Kafi Cafe inside LUSH, Oxford Street (new)

I heard about this cafe when scrolling through HasBean instagram feed and was shocked to know that there was actually speciality coffee shop on Oxford Street itself (the rents are crazy). In short, HasBean is one of the most respected coffee roasters in England, haling from the very northern part, Huddersfield so I was excited to taste their coffees after several years (I used to order online several years ago). Located on the first floor of LUSH – a very smelly soap shop – you will be greeted at the top of the stirs with an array of coffee to your left and a lime green Black Eagle espresso machine. I ordered a cortado as usual (this is the main coffee I order if I’m craving milk based but want a higher proportion of coffee in the afternoon).

Nice cup of coffee using Ethiopian beans with hints of fruit and caramel. Kafi actually have a bigger shop located a few minutes away at 20 Cleveland Street. Highly recommended.

Grind at Soho, 19 Beak Street, off Carnaby Street (classic)

I’ve been here many times when I’ve been in the area craving specialty coffee and so this time was the same. Again I went for a cortado or as it a short cortado

The barista wasn’t the friendliest – I’m not sure if Brexit and the service based industry is doing well with grumpy baristi and n general service staff. I digress but back to the coffee. Yes it was nice and once the barista saw that I was enjoying it, she was a bit more receptive, asking what I thought. Luckily for me I prioritise substance over fluffiness.

In summary, you will be spoilt for choice when you visit London, which host tons of specialty coffee shops. They may not be the friendliest, as I have become accustomed to very friendly baristi customer service in cafes in Dubai but they will be passionate about preparing your cup of coffee – just don’t film them without permission nor expect to chat with them about the coffee and more.

I’m Drinking the Sweetest Filter Coffee I ever had

I just got back from London and bought a few coffee bags from some London coffee roasters and first up on the filter was for Caravan Coffee Roasters. I selected a natural from Guatemala from their filter selection because I always find naturals more intriguing and especially more so from Central America, as naturals are quite rare from this part of the coffee growing world.

I brewed La Nueva Natural Guatemala on the Hario V60 as I have missed… yes, I had missed brewing coffee on a V60 for two weeks. Using a menu of

  • 15.3 g freshly ground coffee on my Wilfa Grinder
  • 94C on my fellow EKG kettle
  • First pour of 43ml
  • Wait for 40 seconds
  • Second pour all the way to 227ml of water

I decided to serve myself using a glass cup as opposed to a ceramic. I guess I thought I’d like to accentuate the sweetness of this cup as much as possible and yes I was comely taken aback.

My first sip just blew my taste buds away with the poignant sweetness, almost white sugar like, with hints of caramel. It was so sweet that I was just sitting down for a few seconds wandering if I had added something to the cup by mistake.

The bag mentions taste notes of brioche ( the classic sweet French bread, using lots of eggs and butter with sugar), flaked almonds and blueberry.

For me,

🔵 it was more like a sweeter berry (blueberries aren’t that sweet)

🔵 white sugar with hints of caramel 😋

On the second day, I served myself the coffee in a ceramic cup, and then the notes were more balanced, with cane type sugar and darker berries … perhaps blueberry 🫐

If you’re in the UK, I strongly encourage you to order this one of a kind sweet coffee (link above) as Caravan usually offer free delivery for orders over GBP20 and deliver very fast, based on when the UK was in the EU and I used to order to Vienna.

London Coffee Report 2019

I couldn’t really see out 2019 without my annual London Coffee Report depicting my coffee escapades in my favourite coffee city, London. Just like last year, I decided to share with you a mix of the traditional and the new, which I visited during our annual London holiday. Just to make things exciting, if you pay attention you’ll notice that each shop had a common trait.

Monmouth Coffee, Borough Market

On this occasion, our daughter convinced us to try something new and so we headed off to Borough Market, close to London Bridge. Naturally I was intrigued, as I love food and coffee, knowing that Monmouth Coffee was also located within Borough Market. I’ve been to the one in Covent Garden but never to this one. As we walked around like tourists, taking in the sights, the smells of London street food, tasting artisan breads, pepper sauces, buying exotic spices and scratching our head as to what to eat, I finally spotted Monmouth on the left side as you exit the market. It’s actually located on a side road and it was literally bustling out of its side, with customers on the street.

As you enter the shop, there are seats to the front and left of you in wooden cubicle styles reminiscence of their Covent Garden branch. As you glance to your right, yo will see  the brew bar hosting a filter station and La Marzocco linea espresso machine. Just behind is the “coffee market” – coffee enthusiasts buying coffee from open wooden crates served by lots of staff. There’s lots of coffee from different parts of the World with scales to weigh your coffee – truly like a market. I quizzed the assistants as I wanted two distinctly different coffees for espresso and for filter.  Having bought my bags of coffee, I then had my daily cortado – more coffee than milk. Grab a seat outside on what was a hot London summer day.

The Shed, Clapham South Underground Station

Something New. When in London, we usually stay with my brother in Clapham but the closest station is Clapham South on the Northern Line. As we were rushing to catch the train on one of our first days, I caught a glimpse of a newish shop hosting a La Marzocco Linea machine.

Excited I popped my head in, took a picture and noticed with even more excitement, bags of Caravan  Coffee. I eagerly told the lone staff there that I’d be back. and so I was, ensuring that every time I headed off ahead of my family to order my coffee not just on one occasion but twice.

I found out that they had recently opened and were committed to using only Caravan coffee (fine by me). I definitely recommend Shed coffee on your way to work or if you are heading into London from that station, where you can get great Caravan roasted coffee prepared by very pleasant staff as well as some snacks like pastries, sandwiches and cakes.

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Soho and Paddington

Back to something traditional, the department of coffee and social affairs  – I like writing their name. I actually went to their spot at Paddington Central for my daily cappuccino before having lunch with my cousin in plush Paddington Central. Located in a a very avant garden building, they’ve tried to give it a homely feel with some wood decorations and sofas. There’s lots on offer from food, snacks, sandwiches and coffee of course.

For my second trip, I went to their shop on 3 Lowndes Court, just off Carnaby Street in Soho. It’s another very busy shop, visited by locals and tourists alike. As you enter, to the front of you is a shelf offering their coffees (even for nespresso)  and other merchandise – just to the right is where you can order, but there’s a little confusion, because there can sometimes be 2 queues – one eating to order and one awaiting their orders. The female baristi are hard at work, focusing on espresso using the La Marzocco linea machine and filter simultaneously, with another lady taking orders. They have many delectable cakes – the lamington being the most famous – haling from Australia – it looks like a chocolate sponge wrapped in coconut flakes. In this trip I ordered a daily cappuccino.

I definitely think that the department of coffee and social affairs should have a price for their name, as I think that it is just one of the best names for a coffee shop.

The Observatory, 64 Marchmont Street, near Russell Square 

Now back to something new. On our last day, we had to move to a hotel in Russell Square and has ing being starved of my daily coffee from an expert, I decided to head over to Continental Stores (Store Street Espresso sisters shop), but as I approached they had already closed. Walking back dejected, I noticed this really arty looking place, selling coffee – advertised as an art gallery selling specialty coffee. Never one to back down on a coffee challenge, I went in, noticing their La Marzocco Linea machine. I took in the sights, or should I say the art and atmosphere – it was quiet, as after all it was late afternoon.

I decided to order a daily Cortado and of course I couldn’t resist my favourite pastry, Pasties De Nata from Portugal, as a tasty accompaniment.

I really enjoyed my coffee – a blend using Brazilian and Uganda arabica coffee. Afterwards, I had a chat with the barista, Tim and he told me about their roaster, Redemption Roasters. If I wasn’t already loaded with coffee from my exploits, I would have bought one of the coffees but next time.

 

I hope you enjoyed your coffee exploits in 2019 like I did, especially in London. Oh! What was that one commonality of the shops – did you spot it? They all had La Marzocco Linea espresso machines. Obviously, I still have my favourites spots when In London. Earlier I wrote about my fave coffee shop, Prufrock – read here – which I visited again during this trip.

In addition, whenever I’m in the West End, I always pop into

Notes Coffee, located at Bond Street Station.

Workshop Coffee , located in St Christopher’s Place, near Selfridges

For Soho;

Soho Grind on 19 Beak Street

Wishing you all a pleasant 2020 and I hope you discover new ways to satisfy your coffee palate and please don’t pay or drink bad coffee in London. Enjoy your last day of coffee in 2019 and wishing you a great 2020.

Ciao!

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