When I started working in King's Cross in early 2010, I never thought I'd see the day when I would be able to write a guide to the neighbourhood's coffee scene. I used to go on two-mile round-trips on my lunch break to places like The Espresso Room because there just wasn't anything good nearby. Now, though, there are, if not a surfeit, then at least a goodly number of speciality coffee venues. The following are my favourites.
Note: there are various ways to define the King's Cross area, but I tend to count anything south of the Euston Road as Bloomsbury and anything west of the British Library as Euston — essentially, if King's Cross is the nearest Tube station, it's included!
When Caravan opened next to the new outpost of Central St Martins in 2012, I was delighted: partly because they roast, sell and serve excellent coffee and partly because I hoped that it would be a sign of things to come for King's Cross. Whether it's a beautifully prepared piccolo or a flavoursome hand-brewed filter coffee, Caravan always gets it right. If I don't have time for lunch, I still like to perch at the back of the restaurant behind the coffee bar, watching the roasting, cupping and tasting that is often taking place. They do coffee to take away too, although not usually hand-brewed filters.
Caravan is located at 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA. Full review. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
One of the newest coffee shops to open in King's Cross, Frequency is slightly off the beaten track but its King's Cross Road location is only a brisk five-minute stroll from the station and it is well worth seeking out for its well-made espresso-based drinks and Aeropress- and V60-brewed filter coffees. The coffee is from Workshop and there are also plenty of tempting sweet treats. Justo and his team are lovely too — say hi from me if you stop by!
Frequency is located at 121 King's Cross Road, London, WC1X 9NH. Full review. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
Lanark is so close to my office that it sometimes feels too lazy to pop in for a coffee when I could just as easily make my own, but they do it so much better than I can! Lanark occupies the space that was once home to Drink, Shop & Dash (RIP); it's a small café with only a handful of seats in the window. They serve espresso-based drinks and batch brew filter coffee. Rumour has it that if you ask nicely (and come when it's quiet), they will make you a pourover, but I am always too British to ask, sticking instead to the excellent piccolos and macchiatos.
Lanark is located at 11 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX. Twitter. Instagram.
Once a more integrated part of the popular KERB street food market, which has since decamped further north up King's Boulevard, Noble & Espresso usually pitches up on Battle Bridge Place — at the back of King's Cross Station and just south-east of the new Pancras Square development. The espresso-based drinks are always good even when the barista is faced with a queue of epic proportions. The gold-accented takeaway cups are also very Instagram-friendly.
Noble Espresso is located at Battle Bridge Place, London, N1C 4TB. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
I had enjoyed the delights of Notes' other cafés for several years when they rocked up in Pancras Square back in 2013. Cosy and cool with plenty of seating, both inside and overlooking the fountains in the square, Notes is open all day (until 9 or 10 pm most days), serving wine and cocktails in the evenings and often hosting live music and other events. They used to roast their own coffee just up the road but their roastery has now moved to East London. The espresso drinks are very good and there is usually a good selection of sandwiches, salads and sweets on offer.
Notes is located at 1 Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG. Full review. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
It took me until March this year to visit Cornish roaster Origin's Charlotte Road branch in Shoreditch, but it was worth the wait: the Ethiopian pourover I had was probably the best pourover I've had all year. Origin have had a little concession in the entrance hall of the British Library, a few minutes' walk from King's Cross station, for some time but it was their takeover of the formerly uninspiring coffee hatch on the Euston Road side of the library that I was waiting for.
'Hatch' doesn't cut it any more: the café is long and slim with several stools along the window, just opposite the minimalist, tiled coffee bar. There are also a handful of tables on the pavement outside and while the prospect of a relaxing coffee on the Euston Road may not sound like too enticing a prospect, Origin have created a beautiful space and it's a lovely place to sit, especially when the sun is out. The coffee is, as you would expect, excellent: I've already had several Kalita Wave pourovers and a piccolo, all of which have been prepared with beautiful precision. There are also some beautifully styled breakfast and lunch offerings that are a little on the pricey side but look great.
Essentially, I like Origin's new coffee bar so much that I often find myself taking the bus to Euston so that I have the excuse to walk past the British Library on the way into the British Library.
Origin is located at 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB. Full review (Charlotte Road branch). Website. Twitter. Instagram.
A short walk from the station on Caledonian Road, Pattern is a cosy café that serves very nice coffee from Bristol-based Extract Coffee. Don't miss the colourful artwork or the delicious cakes and pastries; the lunch menu often has plenty of interesting choices too.
Pattern is located at 82 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DN. Full review. Website. Twitter. Instagram.