Good to enjoy alone or with friends, as long as it’s in a warm and welcoming place: for anyone thinking that the coffee ritual is just an Italian thing and that while traveling round the world you will have to give this up, you are sorely mistaken. This is well-known in the United Kingdom: here beans, roasting and coffee cups are taken seriously and there are a great many London bars where you can enjoy a good cup of coffee. Seeing is believing: careful research of various cafés and bars can reveal some pleasant surprises.
In the London bars, riding the “third wave”
The British capital is no disappointment for diehard coffee consumers and the old stereotype of the long coffee is giving way to a new trend in which the London bars are leading the way. This new trend, renamed as the “Third wave”, puts the quality of the coffee first and much greater focus on all the production phases, from the growing to the roasting, right down to the consumption by the ever more demanding customers.
And thus the first independent cafés were born: small informal-style but well-kept establishments, sometimes characterized by artistic furnishings and details. These are the perfect places to take a short break, or for a morning’s work hook up to the wi-fi. It is here that the coffee culture is writing a new page in its long history and intertwines with new rhythms and new needs, a trend that the London bars have already picked up on. Let’s look at the best ones together.
80 Coffee Roasters
In the heart of the Elephant & Castle quarter, this little bar, decorated in tones of blue has been welcoming anyone who wants a perfectly made coffee since 2017. Simone and Roberto, the two Italian founders of this business, select and roast the best raw materials from around the world. Besides offering a pleasant break, this is one of the London bars where you can actually buy your favorite blend and also the equipment needed to prepare it.
Look Mum No Hands
Of all the London bars, a special mention must go to Look Mum No Hands, which brings together the passion for coffee and the passion for cycling. In this place in Islington it is possible to enjoy a good traditional coffee produced by a local roaster and, in the meantime, purchase cycling clothes and accessories. If necessary, in the area dedicated to the workshop, you can get your bike checked or mended before you set off again.
If you find yourself in Covent Garden don’t miss Abuelo: here you’ll find the perfect marriage of Brazilian coffee and Australian technique. All of this, while respecting fair trade: the coffee actually arrives from ethical crops that respect local land and the local populations. Along with the coffee, you can also sample something from a simple yet tasty menu which recalls the Australian and Argentine origins of the owner.
Any music lovers should not pass up the opportunity to sip their coffee while browsing through CDs and vinyl records: this is the perfect match offered by Brill Café. Once upon a time a record store, today it is a highly popular independent café in the heart of Exmouth Market.
The Association Coffee
In this café, besides espresso, it is possible to taste coffee according to the season: the range of choices on offer varies every week and always includes a “guest espresso” and a single-origin with which you can combine a selection of cakes and sweets. The informal environment with a hint of industrial atmosphere is perfect for a top quality coffee break.
For cappuccino-lovers, a tour of the London cafés is not complete without stopping off at this place in the heart of Soho. Here, since 2005, sipping a traditional Flat White, a drink which is very trendy right now in Australia and New Zealand, is a real ritual. This bar is the perfect choice for eating brunch thanks to the all day breakfast formula on offer and the possibility to choose from a rich selection of sweets.
For fans of Australian and New Zealand tradition, another stop to plan in London is Kaffeine: this independent café with one establishment in Fitzrovia and another in Eastcastle Street also offers the possibility to take part in group or individual lessons dedicated to the art of coffee.
Among the most bizzarre places where you can drink your London coffee there is even an underground toilet from the Victorian era: these are precisely the origins of the Attendant Cafè, which boasts its own roasting facilities and great care and attention in selecting blends from all over the world. In the establishments in Fitzrovia, Shoreditch and Clerkenwell, the Attendant offers you the possibility to learn all the secrets of a good coffee and milk art.
Candid Arts Café
Art and coffee are intertwined here in this café in the heart of Angel: the Candid Arts café stands out for its excellent coffee and for its bohemian location which also hosts events, exhibitions and art courses.
Coleman Coffee Roasters
For a really original coffee-based break you can plan a visit to Coleman Coffee Roasters. Here, Saturday morning is dedicated to tastings: you can indulge yourself choosing from a wide range of South American blends.
And have you already chosen your favorite venue from among the London bars?
If you should be searching for inspiration for your next trip, take a look at our guide to the most unusual coffee shops in the world or the historic cafés of Prague and Paris!