Café, coffee shop, coffee house, espresso bar – no matter what you call them, London has plenty of places to hit up when you need a quick fix of java. The coffee shops in the capital range from speedy takeaway outposts to laidback eateries that place as much of an emphasis on the food as on the drinks, from beloved neighbourhood hubs to sleek urban cafés cranking out espressos to rush-hour crowds. Regardless of the setting or location, however, all of the places listed in this guide have one thing in common – a serious dedication to brewing a great cup of coffee. Read on to discover the best cafés in the city.
Guide to the best cafés in London
In this guide
The best cafés in London
- Grind – Independent coffee roasters
- Monmouth Coffee – Sourcing quality coffee from around the world
- Ozone Coffee Roasters – Roasting, pickling, fermenting, protecting
- Blackhorse Workshop Café – Community hub with decadent food
- Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium – Trendy cat café
- Antipodea – All-day dining, Aussie-style
- Store Street Espresso – Specialty coffee mainstay
- Aida – Coffee break while you shop
- Café Kitsuné – Acclaimed fashion and record label's café
- The Black Cab Coffee Co – Trademark mobile bars find a home
- Bar Italia – Legendary Italian coffee hub
- Prufrock Coffee – Enthusiastic about good coffee
- Birdhouse. – Welcoming local spot
- Kaffeine – Taking food as seriously as coffee
- Campbell & Syme Coffee Roasters Café – Spreading good coffee awareness
- The Gentlemen Baristas – Well-mannered coffee
- % Arabica – Sleek Japanese coffee chain
- Kiss the Hippo – Responsible carbon-negative coffee company
- Petersham Nurseries Café – Richmond's garden retreat
- Rosslyn Coffee – Where Ireland meets Australia
- Host Café – Coffee religion
- Workshop Coffeebar – Clean, sweet and fresh coffee
- Dobar – Buzzy brunch place
- Omotesando Koffee – Visually stunning coffee shop
- Bread & Bean – Neighbourhood hangout
- Towpath – Charming waterside spot known for its food
- Esters – Creative simplicity
- Origin Coffee – Sustainable approach to exceptional coffee
- Saint Espresso – Stylish neighbourhood spots
- Root/25 – Supporting charity in cosy setting
- Lo-Fi – Beats 'n' brews
- Thingy Cafe – Verdant work haven
- Redemption Roasters – Roasting coffee behind bars
- Frequency Coffee – Good music, good coffee
- EL&N – The most Instagrammable cafés in London
- Formative Coffee – No fuss, just coffee
- Browns of Brockley – Beloved South London joint
- The Theatre Café – "The stagiest place in town"
- Blighty – As British as it gets
- Common Ground – Popular neighbourhood hang-out
The best cafés in London
Independent coffee roasters
Run by an indie coffee company with its own roastery, the Grind cafés emphasise quality coffee, fresh juices and expertly mixed cocktails. Many of the latter are made with Grind’s own coffee. There’s also food to be had at the group’s various locations around town, highlighted by an all-day brunch menu with smashed avocado toast, filled croissants, burrata bruschetta and more.
Sourcing quality coffee from around the world
The people behind the Monmouth Coffee Company go out of their way to establish direct relationships with growers of quality coffee all over the world, travelling the globe to source coffee they like and retail it at their shops and online. You can sample the different coffees they offer at their cafés, along with a selection of artisanal pastries and sweet treats. There's a reusable coffee cup policy in effect as well.
Roasting, pickling, fermenting, protecting
Imported from New Zealand, Ozone Coffee Roasters combine environmental awareness and sustainability, specialty coffee and contemporary culinary techniques such as fermentation and pickling at their London eateries. Expect low-waste dishes such as kimchi, pasta with garlic and chili ferment, and eggs benedict on bubble 'n' squeak cakes at these very popular cafés.
Community hub with decadent food
Part of the Blackhorse Workshop area, this café started out as a showcase for its former proprietors' independently roasted coffee, but is now a popular community spot, in no small part thanks to its food offer. The changing weekly menu features generous slices of banana bread slathered in mascarpone, sourdough toasties, BLTs, Turkish eggs, pea smashes and an absurdly over-the-top French toast, all served in a cosy inside area or on the relaxed outdoor terrace.
Trendy cat café
Admittedly, how much you rate this café is directly correlated to how much of a cat person you are. If the answer is “very much so”, it’ll be hard to beat sipping on coffee while furry friends slink, sleep and play across the two cosy floors of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. You can even enjoy afternoon tea while the cats go about their day.
All-day dining, Aussie-style
During the day, Antipodea is a laidback Australian café where you can enjoy global favourites such as toasts, egg dishes, pizzas and burgers, sip on hot coffee or reenergise with a fresh smoothie. Later in the day, the all-day brasseries become a buzzy spot for dinner and drinks.
Specialty coffee mainstay
Store Street Espresso is a group of cafés originating from a popular Bloomsbury spot with minimalistic furnishings and vibrant artwork on the walls. The cafés are known for their array of specialty coffees and quiet working atmosphere, and the Tavistock Place location serves breakfast and brunch as well.
Coffee break while you shop
The Aida boutique in Shoreditch doubles up as a café, serving colourful chai, turmeric, matcha and rose lattes along with the more commonplace coffee drinks right in the store. You can take your time to watch the world go by as you sip on your drink, get some work done, or look at the fashion on display as you ponder your new outfit.
Acclaimed fashion and record label's café
An outpost of the Japanese-French brand Maison Kitsune, Café Kitsuné serves pastries, cakes and sandwiches with a Japanese twist in a relaxing contemporary space with a sunny terrace. You can also get coffee and tea, including unique infusions like yuzu and honey, as well as refreshing cold drinks such as strawberry mint lemonade, hibiscus and rose lemonade or iced matcha lattes.
Trademark mobile bars find a home
The Black Cab Coffee Co’s distinct vehicles could be found at events all over the city in the years before finding a permanent home by the Thames in Battersea. The elegant black-tinged outpost is both café and bar and boasts an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy quality coffee and cocktails, as well as breakfast and brunch.
Legendary Italian coffee hub
A landmark spot in Frith Street for more than 60 years, Bar Italia is the sort of genuine Italian joint you otherwise need to jump on an airplane for. This vibrant café is beloved by London’s Italian community as well as celebs, likely because it serves espressos the way they do back home – with an inordinate yet welcome amount of passion and dedication.
Enthusiastic about good coffee
Prufrock Coffee in Central London was launched by a team of coffee fiends who turned this minimalist café into a go-to choice for local as well as international coffee aficionados. Slide into the wood-lined booths and sample an evolving, diverse range of coffees from global roasters. You can also choose from a selection of breakfast and lunch dishes if you’re hungry, or just grab a pastry for a quick pick-me-up.
Welcoming local spot
Birdhouse in Clapham is the sort of laidback neighbourhood joint where you can loll around on retro chairs, sip on coffee and watch the baristas tend to their machinery. If you’re hungry, you can also grab some brunch or a nice pastry. The stylish café with grey walls and bright yellow details serves as an elegant yet casual setting for your espresso.
Taking food as seriously as coffee
The sleek Kaffeine coffee shops are inspired by Aussie and Kiwi coffee culture, placing as much of an emphasis on food as on coffee. The weekly changing menus at these independent cafés feature a wide array of breakfasts and pastries, light bites and plated meals for brunch, as well as a range of lunch dishes. You can also get your food as takeaway or catering.
Spreading good coffee awareness
Launched by self-taught roasters over a decade ago, Campbell & Syme Coffee Roasters are dedicated to spreading the joys of good coffee. This East Finchley café serves as their shop and showcase, with customers able to choose from two different options of single origin espresso and three different filter coffees, as well as buy equipment and seasonal beans for their own homebrewing experiments.
The Gentlemen Baristas is a group of cafés around London that reflect their founders’ commitment to a sustainable, well-mannered approach to the environment as well as their customers. They source their beans from trusted farms and producers from around the world, serving hot cups of coffee in cosy, welcoming venues.
Sleek Japanese coffee chain
An independent specialty coffee chain originally launched in Kyoto, % Arabica has expanded around the world on the back of its founder’s passion for travel, quality coffee and elegant modern interiors. The chain’s locations in London range from a futuristic, efficient kiosk to a flagship venue where you choose your beans and wait while the baristas roast them in-house.
Responsible carbon-negative coffee company
An award-winning specialty coffee company, Kiss the Hippo has dedicated itself to innovative techniques, ethically sourced coffee and sustainability initiatives. They’re considered to be among the pioneers of farm-to-table coffee culture and stock a variety of coffees from around the world. You can sample them at one of several branches in London.
Richmond's garden retreat
Unlike the many sleek urban cafés in the more central parts of the city, the café at the Petersham Nurseries in Richmond provides a natural, garden-inspired setting. You can enjoy seasonal delicacies or treat yourself to afternoon tea in the glasshouse, an extremely British experience if there ever was one.
Where Ireland meets Australia
Taking its cue from its founders’ roots, Rosslyn Coffee brings together Irish hospitality and Australian coffee culture. The company hits up leading producers around the globe for quality seasonal coffee, often offering exclusives that aren’t available anywhere else. At their locations in London, you can get their freshly brewed coffee, as well as pastries.
Located within a majestic Gothic church, Host Café provides a quite extraordinary setting to enjoy a cup of coffee in. There are different coffees, cakes and sandwiches to choose from, and you can also book a table to work on your laptop in peace for as long as you need. They also hold various events there, from concerts to yoga.
Clean, sweet and fresh coffee
Devoting a hefty chunk of time and effort to sourcing coffee from sustainable coffee producers, Workshop Coffee then brings out their individual flavours during the roasting process and serves them in the stylish surroundings of its Coffeebars. You can get espressos, filter coffee, food and even homebrewing equipment there.
Buzzy brunch place
A popular choice for brunch crowds, Dobar is known for its Mediterranean-inspired breakfast and brunch dishes of all sorts, with plenty of eggs, avocado, sausages and sourdough flying around. The drinks include freshly brewed coffee, refreshing smoothies and more, and the social vibe of the place turns strangers into friends before you know it.
Visually stunning coffee shop
The London branch of the popular Omotesando Koffee chain from South Asia is all wood, the light panelling fitted seamlessly together to great effect. There are a few cosy wall booths and a window counter to enjoy a range of hot and cold brews at, from cappuccinos made with single-origin beans to matcha lattes.
Bread & Bean is a cosy family-run café in North London that knows what it takes to be loved by the local community. The atmosphere at this corner joint near Archway Station is laidback and welcoming, with hot filter coffee, tasty brunch options, cakes and more ready to go. You can also sit outside on the pavement.
Charming waterside spot known for its food
It might count the likes of Keira Knightley and Tracey Ullman among its devotees, but Towpath is far from being a posh celebrity hangout. This enchanting and unpretentious café right by the canal in Haggerston boasts plenty of outside seating, good coffee and food that shows a touch of sophistication, yet is still comfortingly familiar.
When it comes to food, this cosy neighbourhood coffeeshop surpasses expectations by adding a pinch of gourmet flair – think French toast with poached loquats, blood orange purée, Earl Grey cream and buckwheat-oat brittle, or fried eggs on toast with Tokyo turnip escabeche and wild garlic chimichurri. The specialty coffee is available in both espresso and filter versions, and there are inventive bakes to treat yourself with as well.
Sustainable approach to exceptional coffee
Origin Coffee is an independently owned speciality coffee company that places as much emphasis on sourcing its beans ethically as it does on pouring the final brew into your cup at one of its coffeeshops. Their flagship location is in Shoreditch, but those looking to curl up with a good book and an espresso will be happy to hear they can be found at the British Library as well.
Stylish neighbourhood spots
Saint Espresso knows a café is more than just a good cup of coffee – the aesthetic and overall vibe of the place are just as important. The group’s various branches around London combine sophisticated industrial chic with a welcoming neighbourhood feel, serving authentic speciality coffee and simple, tasty food.
Supporting charity in cosy setting
Root/25 is a not-for-profit charity café, community and arts space in Bow that’s also home to Restless Beings, an international human rights organisation. The coffeehouse’s earnings go towards supporting the charity. Internationally influenced decor turns the wood-panelled space into a cosy, welcoming venue where you can enjoy food inspired by the Islamic world.
Beats 'n' brews
If you’re looking for new tunes to go with your fresh coffee, Lo-Fi, an independent coffee house in Crouch End has you covered. They serve beats in addition to freshly poured espressos, with a listening station in the back of the café. Put on a vinyl record and relax.
Verdant work haven
Down a quiet street in Hackney Wick, this lovely oasis provides a warm, welcoming space to grab a coffee and a bite to eat. There’s a lush garden with plenty of outdoor seating out back for those who prefer to dine in the fresh air. If you're looking for a place to perch and work, this is an excellent spot to do just that.
Roasting coffee behind bars
Self-described as the world’s first prison-based coffee company, Redemption Roasters works with offenders behind bars to produce its speciality coffee. The social enterprise aims to help reduce re-offending rates by providing prisoners with skills and careers once they’re released, including jobs at their many pleasant cafés around London.
Good music, good coffee
Starting out as one man’s dream of combining his loves of quality coffee and good tunes in one place, the Frequency Coffee shops are stylish multi-concept spaces. The coffee houses located around town serve speciality coffee, cocktails and food, host gigs, chess nights and other events, feature a house band and even have private meeting rooms you can hire.
The most Instagrammable cafés in London
The super-pink EL&N cafés are some of the most Instagrammable places in London, both when it comes to their setting and their offer – the menu even features a section just for “Instagrammable lattes”. Adorned with hues of pink, bright florals and neon lights, the cafés also boast a pretty impressive menu, with a range of European dishes stylishly arranged with intricate flowers and bright colours.
No fuss, just coffee
Formative Coffee is located between Westminster and Victoria. The contemporary coffee shop is bright and airy thanks to large windows flooding the space with light. The interior is intentionally kept bare to make sure your attention remains on the carefully prepared coffee. “The craft and science of coffee” is above all here.
Beloved South London joint
The light and airy Browns of Brockley features indoor and outdoor seating, friendly, personal service, quality espresso and filter coffee courtesy of guest roasters, and pastries, sandwiches and other small bites to refuel with. There’s a reason the beloved neighbourhood café in South London has a far-reaching reputation.
"The stagiest place in town"
With the walls covered in theatrical memorabilia and an events programme that includes open mic nights and live shows by West End stars, The Theatre Cafe is a must for any theatre fans. In the heart of theatreland, the café offers a menu of sweet and savoury snacks, as well as theatre-inspired cocktails, hot beverages and fresh smoothies.
As British as it gets
As suggested by its name, Blighty Cafe is covered in Britain-related paraphernalia, from cut-outs of Mr Bean and a traditional fry-up on the brunch menu, to portraits of Queen Elizabeth II adorning the walls. The funkily decorated cafés offer work-friendly interiors, secluded outdoor seating, pastries, cakes, hot beverages and more.
Popular neighbourhood hang-out
Based near Finsbury Park, Common Ground is a popular local café with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You can sit in the contemporary interior or out in the peaceful and plant-filled garden. Dogs are welcome but laptops are not. Coffee, juices, and alcoholic drinks are available, plus pastries and treats and a menu of veggie-friendly brunch favourites.