Although London is not yet world-renowned for its coffee scene, there is undeniably a revolution bubbling underneath its surface, with a remarkable amount of speciality cafes and expert roasters opening their doors month to month in the capital.
Leaving tea drinkers in their wake, coffee aficionado’s no longer have to make do with sub-par coffees in old-fashioned tea rooms as the city is now packed with hipster brewers and baristas with serious sights on changing the way we drink java!
So to help you find the best coffee in London, we’ve put together this ultimate list of our favourite hidden gems which will live long in the memory and even longer on your palate!
Best Coffee Shops in London
49 Church Street, London NW8 8ES
So much more than just a coffee shop, Second Shot in Queen Street is a truly heart-warming business that deserves your visit, with every cup of joe making a real difference to those behind the counter.
Although a clever play on the act of espresso-pulling, the shop’s name is also very literal in meaning, as the aim of the store is to give the large homeless population of London a second chance at life.
The chain does this by inviting men and women off the street and training them to be baristas, helping them source long-term employment in the coffee industry so they can begin to rebuild their lives.
If that wasn’t enough, customers can also choose to prepay for drinks and meals which will be given to someone else unable to afford such luxuries later in the day.
This feel-good café is the only way to guarantee your smooth, rich caffeine fix comes with a nice slice of conscience on the side and is a fantastic way to turn your daily coffee run into something much more meaningful.
Jacob the Angel
16 ½ Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DP
Looking at the entrance of Jacob the Angel is like looking through a portal to Italy – a quaint little café hidden amongst the apartment blocks of a colourful and calm little Mediterranean town.
Thankfully though this lovely little coffee escape is situated right here in London, hidden away in Neal’s Yard, a pretty little haven in Covent Garden.
The closest you’ll ever get to heaven, this is in our opinion the definitive divine brunch spot for the weekend, pairing great quality coffee with unbelievable grub, the signature coconut cream pies being a highlight.
Just scrolling through their Instagram is enough to convince anyone that JTA is the idyllic coffee house thought only possible in dreams.
19 Lonsdale Road, Queen’s Park, London, NW6 6RA
London is practically swimming in Aussie-inspired coffee houses, but for a truly authentic-time on Antipodean shores, we heartily suggest a trip to Milk Beach, which is sure to transport you straight to Byron Bay with it’s bright, white design and large open warehouse space.
The breezy by the sea feel in Queen’s Park is clearly meant to evoke an all year-summer style but it’s coffee thankfully isn’t afraid to change with the seasons.
With speciality beans sourced from around the world, Milk Beach nominates one bean a season to roast on-site in a multitude of unusual taste-unlocking ways. It’s a process which has seen them win two UK roasting championships and become a much revered local favourite.
Dark Arts Coffee’s ‘I Will Kill Again’
Arch 216 27a Ponsford Street, E9 6JU
So far, we admit that a lot of these coffee quarters look like the perfect spot to meet up with Karen and the girls for a nice brunch and a natter, which we realise isn’t everyone’s scene.
So if you like your coffee a bit more on the wild side, let us introduce Dark Arts Coffee, a company which first came into being after some friends from East London had ‘twisted visions’ of creating a divine coffee elixir and funnelling the profits into a cult revolving around motorbikes, the occult and ‘all things unholy’.
We’re pretty sure they’re only half-joking too.
Tucked under a railway arch in Hackney, their adorable café ‘I Will Kill Again’ is chock full of hat-wearing, tat-having, beard-owning baristas, who certainly take a more tongue in cheek approach to the java bean.
The seldom-seen roastery creates plenty of funky South American bean blends from the mockingly monikered ‘Flat Earth’ to the endearingly named ‘Satan’s Sadists’, a coffee that’s so devilishly good, the team likely sold their soul to Beelzebub just to craft it.
Unfortunately, the Dark Arts team dedicates most of their week to coffee production and only opens its doors on a weekend, meaning a trip to I Will Kill Again is always a rare outing to be savoured.
For hard rock lovers only, let’s hope Karen and the girls are busy those days.
27A Foley St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6DY
Originally something of a novelty item on the London coffee scene, The Attendant received its unusual moniker thanks to its past life as a Victorian public toilet.
Because nothing whets the appetite quite like the bogs does it?
Strangely though, kooky coffee fans flocked for miles to spend an hour or so amongst the white tiles, water tanks and urinals that continue to dwell within the walls of the Fitzrovia java joint and in turn, they discovered something more than just wacky décor…
The coffee was actually really, really good.
Suddenly suspicious characters were lurking around these loos all the more for the sweet in-house roasted taste of Attendant coffee and eventually they became the best-kept coffee secret that people just couldn’t hold in any longer.
They’ve now opened two (slightly more normal) coffee shops in the city thanks to their success, but to combine coffee that’s got some serious thought and soul in it with a unique atmosphere and experience, we suggest still hitting up the café where it all began.
Just remember to wash your hands afterwards.
Best Coffee in London
If you live in London, or just feel you’ve got to grips with The Big Smoke on previous adventures there, great coffee may be higher on your agenda than yet another Instagram opportunity.
And although the choices below are also home to relaxing vibes and delicious décor, they tend to be more focused on one thing and one thing only – ensuring their blends and roasts are truly the best London has to offer.
So for the real coffee connoisseurs, these are the city’s true java experts.
Kiss The Hippo
50 George St, Richmond, London TW9 1HJ
If you know your coffee, not much needs to be said about Kiss The Hippo, as this Richmond brewer’s reputation more than precedes it.
Winners of the UK Barista of The Year three years on the trot (2018, 2019, 2020), KTH are very much the current kings of the British coffee scene and a speciality roaster who are dedicated to sustainable excellence.
The cafe ain’t half bad either, rocking an on-trend minimalist Scandi-feel that’s a perfect hang-out to relax after a long day of London Shopping.
With a newly opened store in Fitzrovia too, Kiss The Hippo is a soon to be a coffee powerhouse.
23-25 Leather Ln, Holborn, London EC1N 7TE
Despite being just one little café in Holborn, Prufrock is the capital’s famed home of expertly trained baristas and always features an incredibly wide range of bespoke coffee from around the world.
It’s, therefore, a favourite haunt of many coffee connoisseurs and a sure-fire way to get a taste of something entirely unique, brewed by the best.
But despite their expertise, Prufrock isn’t snooty about it, with a cool open plan buzz and an onsite coffee school to help novices take their espresso game to the next level.
66 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7QJ
Despite its spelling, this café is no quirky funhouse looking to score cool points with the youth, and in fact, takes it’s coffee super seriously.
A certified legend on the London scene, Kaffeine is thought of as one of the key players in the capital’s Antipodean coffee shop revolution and a favourite of nearby office workers.
If you’re an espresso enthusiast, it definitely needs to be top of your list!
Monmouth Coffee Company
27 Monmouth St, West End, London WC2H 9EU
Probably the most well-known coffee shop on the list, if you’ve ever strolled through Covent Garden, you will have likely spotted the crazed hubbub surrounding this dinky store, with huge crowds desperate to sample the revered house blend.
But Monmouth is no false prophet and there’s a reason why its followers take mass pilgrimages there every day to sample it’s baked pastries and world-class brews.
A pioneer in Fairtrade and pour-over filter coffee, Monmouth are missionaries for the bean, sourcing their product from single farms, estates and cooperatives in search of the next big flavour.
This means their menu is always offering up new and exciting blends which have made it a hotspot for coffee aficionados who enjoy swapping stories inside the café, which prides itself on communal seating.
The hype is real, so forget names on cups and baristas with silly aprons – this is the real thing.
11 Leonard St, Old Street, London EC2A 4AQ
Kiwi-owned coffee marvel Ozone Coffee Roasters has become a big hit with Shoreditch yuppies in recent years thanks to its comfy diner booths, laidback basement style furnishings and of course – stunning coffee.
The clue’s in the name here and Ozone encourages customers to come and spy their traditional drum roaster downstairs, secluded amongst sacks of beans.
Here you can see just how much craft and love goes into their coffee from the roasting process itself to the cupping sessions that decide their unique blends.
If you’re suitably impressed, then you’ll be racing each other back upstairs to order one!