All about the bean: London's best coffee shops

What does it take to make a truly great coffee shop? Well, we're about to tell you...

Beans, ethics, roasting, temperature, drinking vessels, ambiance, frothing, smiles of the staff... there's a heck of a lot more which goes into a good coffee than Nescafe would have you believe.

A good coffee shop fulfills so many of our varied needs... whether it's setting you up for the day, providing a venue for a mid-morning meet-up with a friend or even giving you a safe haven after that row with Jan at the 3 o'clock meeting. Bloody Jan. She's been a cow since she lost the weight.

Anyway, what does it take to make a truly great coffee shop? Well, we're about to tell you...

Monmouth Coffee House
27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden WC2H 9DD
Region: Covent Garden
Nearest Station: Covent Garden (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Monmouth feels like the grand dame of the London coffee scene. Before the explosion of La Marzocco machines across the capital, Monmouth were drip, dripping out rare grinds, great filter coffee and flat whites way before the rest.

  • USERS 10/10
13 Charlotte Place Marylebone W1T 1SN
Region: Marylebone
Nearest Station: Goodge Street (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Soho is renowned for its coffee shops but there are other areas of central London that do just as well. Lantana is a sweet little café located on Titchfield Street around the corner from Goodge Street. The coffee is consistently excellent and if you’re visiting between the hours of 10am and 12pm then brunch will not disappoint.

3 Bateman Street Soho W1D 4AG
Region: Soho
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Alas, this is not a milkshake kind of place but a coffee shop that deals in superior brews. Milk Bar is brought to London by the same folk that opened Flat White on Berwick Street, equaling its sister bars quality. The espresso is a powerful hit of smooth, rich caffeine whether alone or plunged into a latte. If you want a buzz you know where to come.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 8/10
Tapped & Packed
114 Tottenham Court Road Marylebone W1T 5AQ
Region: Marylebone
Nearest Station: Warren Street

AIL Says: Tapped and Packed have two London locations and judging by their popularity that’s probably just as well. Stylishly done up in the neo-coffee look that all the hip cafes are employing – think rough wood and swinging light bulbs aplenty – its produce is exemplary. Deliciously strong filter coffee, a Has Bean roast and a gang of highly skilled baristas.

Wilton Way Cafe
63 Wilton Way E8 1BG
Region: Kingsland
Nearest Station: Hackney Downs (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: With its location out in the suburbs of Hackney it might be tempting to write Wilton’s off as a local place. However, the coffee is too good for that. There isn’t the delicate weighing of beans and temperature control that you see in some establishments but for a warm welcome, a fine coffee and one of the best bacon and avocado baps you’ll ever eat it’s worth travelling to.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 8/10
Ozone Coffee Roasters
11 Leonard Street EC2A 4AQ
Region: Shoreditch
Nearest Station: Old Street

AIL Says: When beans roasted on the premises are a must, Ozone is the answer. Located on Leonard Street, there is a strong New Zealand connection to this café and roast house where the proof of quality resides in the intense flavour of every the cup.

Nude Espresso
26 Hanbury Street Shadwell E1 6QR
Region: Shadwell
Nearest Station: Shoreditch (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Whether you’re in Soho or Shoreditch, there is a Nude Espresso on hand to perk you up. Roasting their own beans, the playful, independent coffee shop is a delight to drink in and that’s not solely down to the coffee. Baristas are knowledgeable and helpful and the atmosphere – especially in the Hanbury Street branch – is always a pleasure.

  • USERS 10/10
Caravan Exmouth Market
11-13 Exmouth Market Clerkenwell EC1R 4QD
Region: Clerkenwell
Nearest Station: Farringdon (0.4 miles)

AIL Says: Most people who have experience of Caravan would probably agree that once you’ve discovered the Exmouth Market café, restaurant and roastery it’s hard to ignore. Need a great brunch? Choose Caravan. Want sublime espresso from an on-site roastery? Choose Caravan. It even has a proper coffee bar and the hip minimal industrial look to recline in over weekends and long afternoons.

Prufrock Coffee
23-25 Leather Lane The City EC1N 7TE
Region: The City
Nearest Station: Chancery Lane (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Coffee is a serious business and we’re not just talking about the progression of latte art that we all love so much. No, what we mean is the attention to temperature, weights, cupping and roasting. Prufrock covers all the bases that coffee pedants expect and it is without doubt one of the leaders of London’s coffee scene. The spacious venue on Leather Lane is also a lovely place to hang out and watch the world go by.

  • OUR REVIEW 9/10
  • USERS 9/10

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