22 January 2014

Bex's Guide to London: Top Ten Coffee Bars

While I was creating my New York city guide series last year, I realised that it had been over a year since I last updated my map of my favourite places to get coffee in London. I have made a number of great coffee discoveries since then, and today I'm highlighting my current top ten independent coffee bars. I will follow this with posts on my top ten London burgers and my top ten London cocktails, and when I've finished, I'll add everything to a Google Map.

So, here is my updated coffee shortlist; I haven't ranked them, but they are roughly in order, and as usual, if there are multiple branches, I've listed my favourite.

Association Coffee (City). This lovely little espresso bar, near Aldgate, was my best new coffee discovery of 2013 and it's awesome. Both the macchiato (in the grey cup in my blog banner) and the Aeropress brews are great, the staff are friendly and it's a very cool place to hang out. I just wish they opened at the weekend or had a branch in a more convenient location! 10–12 Creechurch Lane. Review. Website. Twitter.

Prufrock (Farringdon). Before I discovered Pact, Prufrock used to be my go-to place for coffee beans. Now, I tend to stop by for a fancy-pants drip coffee on the way to work, or a treat-worthy double macchiato at lunchtime. The coffee is top notch, they're named for a T. S. Eliot poem, and they put cute bunnies on their (4 oz) take-out cups and their merch. Oh, and they do classes and events too. What's not to like? 23–25 Leather Lane. Review. Website. Twitter.

The Espresso Room (Bloomsbury). An old favourite of mine. Tiny, busy and often quite hectic, but the staff are super-friendly and they serve a cracking macchiato. If you can find room to perch or if it's warm enough to sit in one of the nearby parks, try the tasty soup and sarnies too. 31–35 Great Ormond Street. Review. Website. Twitter.

Workshop Coffee Co (Marylebone). Tucked away behind Selfridges, Workshop Coffee Co (formerly known as Sensory Lab) was, I think, the first place I tried Aeropress-brewed coffee, and I haven't looked back since. They take their coffee geekery very seriously here and although it's pretty small, it's worth staking out one of the seats so you can sit and soak up the buzz. 75 Wigmore Street. ReviewWebsite. Twitter.

Monmouth Coffee (Bermondsey). I've liked Monmouth Coffee for a long time, but it's only since I moved to Bermondsey that I've really come to love it. Their Spa Terminus outpost is only open on Saturday mornings, and my friends and I end up there most weeks, St John doughnuts in hand, to grab a coffee after our weekly running club. I love sampling the different varieties chosen for the filter coffee of the week (dripped to order, while you wait). I also buy my coffee beans here most of the time. This branch is quieter than the Covent Garden and Borough cafés, and has a cooler vibe. Plus, the staff really know their stuff, and it's great a place for dog spotting. Arch 3 Spa North (bet. Dockley Road & Spa Road). Review (of the Borough Market branch). Website.

Kaffeine (Fitzrovia). Another old favourite, which I revisited recently. They don't serve Aeropress, but they do usually have great single-origin espressos to try, and the coffee is always expertly brewed. Kaffeine is good for nibbles and Antipodean brunch too. 66 Great Titchfield Street. Mini-reviewWebsiteTwitter.

Caravan (King's Cross). Just across the road from my office, the second branch of Caravan is my go-to place for a lunchtime treat at work: delicious pizza accompanied by a flask of whatever Chemex they are serving that day. The coffee is always good, although if I've already had too much, their salted caramel hot chocolate is also divine. 1 Granary Square. Review. Website. Twitter.

Allpress (Shoreditch). Yes, you sometimes feel as though you might be too uncool for Allpress, which is located in hipster central, but the café, which roasts its own coffee on site, is actually pretty chilled out. Their smiley-faced macchiato even graces the header of this blog. 58 Redchurch Street. Mini-reviewWebsiteTwitter.

Notes (Covent Garden). I have a soft-spot for all-day venues, and the Notes mini-empire will take you from your morning macchiato to your sundown Sauvignon, with a spot of light lunch and/or cake on the way. My favourite branch is just a couple of minutes' walk from the Covent Garden Piazza. It's often busy, but a great place for a bit of respite — and great coffee — after a hard afternoon of shopping. 36 Wellington Street. Review. Website. Twitter.

Tonic Coffee Bar (Soho). Tiny and green-tiled, Tonic is tucked away near the Piccadilly Circus branch of Whole Foods. There's not really any room to drink-in, but it's worth remembering in case you are in need of a good-quality macchiato or filter coffee in the tourist hell of that part of Soho. The coffee is strong and smooth, and the coffee bar is oh-so-stylish. 15 Sherwood Street. Review. Website. Twitter.

Part 2: Top 10 London burgers
Part 3: Top 10 London cocktails
Part 4: Mapping my London food and drink favourites

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