London’s Best Coffee Shops According to the London Lifestyle Awards

There’s no shortage of coffee shops in London, but not all brews are created equal. The nominees for London’s best coffee shops in the Lifestyle Awards are all passionate about what goes into each cup – you won’t find any bucket-sized drinks on these menus. Pall Mall Barbers is up for an award as well – maybe we mentioned it? Voting is open until October 14th. Check out the list and have your say here: https://www.londonlifestyleawards.com/vote. Our rundown of London’s best coffee shops is not short on caffeine.

SOHO

My Place Soho

21 Berwick Street, W1F
Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road

One of London’s best coffee shops, My Place Soho has a friendly, welcoming vibe at this little Soho café. We say café, but it’s also a brasserie, a wine bar and a breakfast joint with an impressive menu of crowd-pleasers from burgers to pasta to hearty salads. Late opening hours mean it’s the perfect place for a post-theatre nightcap or just an alternative to the pub. You’ll definitely want to try the vanilla cannoli – we hear they’re addictive.

london's best coffee shop nordic bakery

Nordic Bakery

14a Golden Square, W1F
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

“Dark rye bread. Cinnamon buns. Coffee.” The words on the window of the Nordic Bakery tell you everything you need to know about this bright yet cozy café. The clean lines and simple displays keep the focus on what really matters – thick black espresso and uncomplicated food made from genuine Scandinavian recipes. The four-strong chain was founded a decade ago by Finland native Jali Wahlsten, who wanted to bring an oasis of laid-back Scandinavian style to the hustle and bustle of London. The light and crunchy cinnamon buns are (deservedly) their biggest sellers, so get there early if you’re determined to sample them.

Yorica!

  
130 Wardour Street, W1F
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

We’re scratching our (extremely well-groomed) heads at this one. Yorica isn’t a coffee shop at all, but a frozen yoghurt and ice cream parlour that promises as many toppings as you can cram into a cup. Rainbow sprinkles and confetti hearts are free, or you can stump up an extra 65p and choose from a list that includes everything from fresh fruit to gummy bears and Jammy Wheels. The “hot” menu turns out to be crepes and waffles as opposed to cappuccinos and Americanos. Maybe not the place to get your caffeine fix, but great for a sugar rush.

Soho Grind

19 Beak Street, W1F
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Soho Grind is the second of seven Grind siblings in London. The sign in the window says “Espresso Bar”, but we think that’s a bit modest. Coffee is just the tip of the iceberg – they also roast their own beans, serve food from 7am to midnight and run a cocktail bar from the basement (though you can get a Bailey’s iced coffee upstairs at any time of day – no judgement). Fun fact: the Shoreditch branch has a fully functional recording studio – Tinie Tempah, Pixie Lott and Sam Smith have all written and recorded here in the past.

WEST END

london's best coffee shops amanzi

Amanzi Tea

24 New Cavendish Street, W1G
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

With tall glass cylinders of cinnamon sticks, golden citrus peel and rose petals lining the walls, Amanzi Tea has the feel of a spice merchant. A closer inspection reveals that these are actually teas – over 150 of them to be somewhat exact. Amanzi aims to bridge the gap between a mug of PG Tips and the hushed reverence of posh hotel tea rooms. Here you can take the time to appreciate something a bit different from the usual English Breakfast or Earl Grey, but without having to book three months in advance (or take out a second mortgage, for that matter). The menu is helpfully divided into classic, pure leaf, unique flavours and fruit to make the selection less confusing – there’s even a section for “beneficial” teas, in case you need something to help you nod off or an immune system boost. A short coffee menu namechecks all the usual suspects, but as you might have guessed from the name, Amanzi is more about the leaf than the bean.

london's best coffee shops notes

Notes

31 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

The last few years have been pretty good to Notes. What started in 2010 as a single site in a former Covent Garden record shop (hence the name) has now grown to a mini-chain with locations in Victoria, Kings Cross and The City. By day it’s a coffee bar serving up beans from their own roastery to tourists and locals alike, alongside Rude Health muesli, wraps and salads from Chop’d. By night, each branch transforms into a wine bar and charcuterie, dishing up small plates and sharing platters to complement their 70-strong wine list. Fun fact: one of the oldest barber shops in London is just a five-minute walk away. That’s Pall Mall Barbers Trafalgar Square, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Taylor Street Baristas

26 Southampton Buildings, WC2A
Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane

Aussie siblings Andrew, Nick and Laura Tolley founded Taylor Street Baristas in 2006 as an answer to the corporate coffee chains springing on every London street corner. What began as a concession in a Richmond supermarket has now mushroomed into nine London stores, each one just a little bit different. Filter fanatics should head for the Bank branch where they have a dedicated stand with three different blends and a “flight of filters” if you just can’t choose one. Meanwhile at their Chancery Lane shop, you’ll find a selection of craft beers to be enjoyed with dishes from their innovative all-day menu.

The Espresso Room 

31-35 Great Ormond Street, WC1N
Nearest Tube: Russell Square

Small but perfectly formed is how we’d describe this Holborn café. The Espresso Room is tiny (more of a cubbyhole than a room, really) and you could probably count the seats on two hands with fingers to spare. The food menu is similarly compact – as the name implies, the focus here is on espresso, served pitch black or expertly blended milk. If you’re lucky enough to spot an empty table, get in quick.

Timberyard

7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

Here’s one for all the freelancers out there who’ve ever nursed a cappuccino in Starbucks for three hours just to use the wi-fi. Timberyard bills itself as both a workspace and a speciality coffee shop – punters are encouraged to stay as long as they’d like. There’s free wi-fi (obviously) and plenty of power sockets dotted around, so you’ll never have to jostle another keyboard warrior for a seat at the best table. Coffee is served up as a choice of filter, Americano or a Chemex for two (that’s the technical name for the flask that looks like it was stolen from a science lab). The wellness menu of smoothies, coconut porridge and locally-brewed kombucha is a nice touch – definitely a step up from a Boots meal deal.

FITZROVIA

london's best coffee shop attendant

Attendant

27a Foley Street, W1W
Nearest Tube: Goodge Street

The clue to Attendant’s past life is the first thing you’ll notice when you descend the stairs – that’s the old (disused) urinals on the tiled walls. That’s because it was once a Victorian toilet which lay dormant beneath the streets until it was painstakingly restored a few years back. The décor may be 19th century, but the coffee is cutting edge. Brewing times are calculated down to the second and our filter coffee arrived at the table in a glass chemistry beaker. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to take you through the somewhat bewildering array of brewing methods listed on the menu. And of course, since you’ll already be at our barbers near Fitzrovia for a haircut, you can stop by here after.

Kaffeine Ltd

66 Great Titchfield Street, W1W
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

Kaffeine is what’s known in the industry as a “Third Wave” coffee shop – a term for the Aussie and Kiwi owned establishments that began popping up in London a decade ago, bringing single-origin coffee and flat whites to our rain-soaked streets. Everyone from Costa to Gregg’s is in on the game now, but Kaffeine are still fanatic about what goes into their 7.7 ounce cups (they do like to be precise). Baristas must have a minimum of three years’ experience to stand behind the Synesso espresso machine and on our last visit, there was homemade almond milk. Each shop has its own chef and the short-but-sweet menu of cakes, salads and sandwiches changes weekly.

EAST LONDON

london's best coffee shops benugo

Benugo

116 St John Street, EC1V
Nearest Tube: Farringdon

If you’re out and about in London a lot, you’ll probably have been to a Benugo at some point, maybe without realising. What was once a single site near Farringdon is now a sixteen-strong chain that also runs cafes for the V&A, BFI, Natural History Museum and Wellcome Collection (to name but a few). Wherever you end up, you’ll find counters piled temptingly high with brownies, baguettes and wraps, or you can pick and mix from giant bowls of colourful salads. They seem to be on a bit of a health kick at the moment – the new menu promises to “revitalise body and soul” with the help of five ginger-laden super shots.

Nude Espresso

26 Hanbury Street, E1
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

Nude Espresso takes coffee very seriously. They don’t just serve it – they also source it, roast it and sell it from their website. The flagship Hanbury Street branch is the place to head if you’re a bit of a coffee nerd – it’s the branch where you can try a carefully curated selection of single origin brews delivered straight from their roastery just opposite. On Saturdays they run a “Home Barista” masterclass from their Bell Lane training facility, which will take you through everything you need to know to get the perfect cup at home.

SOUTH LONDON

Story Coffee

115 St. John’s Hill, SW11
Nearest Station: Clapham Junction

Story is a bright and airy alternative to the big-name coffee shops clustered around Clapham Junction station. Coffee comes from Square Mile Roasters and there’s a tempting brunch menu featuring sourdough toast (avocado optional), quinoa pancakes and smoked salmon. This is a great place to meet a friend for a catch-up, but don’t plan on getting any work done. There’s a strictly-enforced no-laptop policy.

NORTH LONDON

The Coffee Jar

83 Parkway, NW1
Nearest Tube: Camden Town

This ten-seat café in Camden Town is a passion project for Maria, a former banker who fled the City to become a full-time baker. As you might expect, the cakes on offer are lovingly handmade – the slabs of buttered and toasted banana bread are a favourite with regulars. Coffee is sourced from Monmouth in Borough Market, and there’s a regular guest roast on offer alongside their signature espresso blend. The Coffee Jar picked up a Time Out Love London award in 2016, so it’s clearly popular beyond NW1.

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