Coffee: London’s best cups

This guest blog is written by @dropthebeatonit , a true expert on coffee. If you have even a passing interest in decent coffee then this is a must read. Enjoy..

“Today in London you don’t have to be a little Belgian detective to sniff out a very good cup of coffee. Eggnog frappuccinos firmly to one side, your average latte or cappuccino is unrecognisable from the tasteless watery broths of yesteryear..

The Aussies and Kiwis have blown milky coffees clean out of the water with a craft-obsessed caffeine revolution. It’s hardcore. Steaming milk for 12 minutes before pouring from 8 feet above the head seems to be the average comportment of your local well-groomed barista. The bar has been set so high I can think of 20 places, easy, where you’d be overjoyed with the quality of the cup served to you. Paradoxically, the truly great coffee places are no longer defined by the coffee they sell. More than that what keeps you coming back is the location, the friendliness of the staff, the general feel-good vibes, and definitely the selection of sparkling mineral water.

The Top 5:

Covent Garden, W1

Inside this tiny rabbithole of a coffee shop it becomes annoying how many times you overhear people importantly telling their friends how this is the best coffee in London. But it might well be. Monmouth is the mothership. Run flawlessly by smiling knowledgeable staff who outnumber their customers 6 to 1, one of the great pleasures of London life is nursing a cup of their finest and benching it up on Monmouth St to watch the girls go by. They sell beans from all over the world, do coffee tastings, and generally keep the rad-meter cranked up high. The Borough Market outlet is bigger but not as atmospheric and more often than not full of lost Germans looking for a bus stop. They also stock Vichy Catalan sparkling mineral water. Ooof.

Milk Bar/Flat White
Berwick Street & Bateman Street, W1

Flat White was one of the originators of the antipodean coffee Luftwaffe that first dropped its bombs over London a few years back. The beans are from the Square Mile roastery and their coffee is brewed with some slow smoothed-out loving. True to the laid back lifestyle of the South Pacific they don’t run the quickest in-shop operation, but while you wait you can check out the dictionary definition of Flat White stenciled onto the wall or work your way through the world’s biggest most doughy croissant. Milk Bar is its sister outlet which achieves similar high levels of dopeness. The great thing about these two is that they’re open on Sundays, so when most of London is painfully sweating out the weekend’s poisons you can kick back nonchalant and sip a hot one while looking out onto Broadwick Street as Soho yawns its way back to life.

Exmouth Market, EC1

Read the tin. Whatever it says on it, Brill does this. More than likely you’ll come across this little gem on Exmouth Market after the dickheads two doors down in Caravan have done their best to ruin your morning when all you really wanted was a cup of coffee. Brill used to be a music shop that also served its customers coffee, but has since shifted to become a coffee shop which now pumps out incredible music. The owner is in there all the time pouring lattes and talking tunes to his loyal besotted customers. This place is great.

Climpsons & Sons
Broadway Market, E8

Climpsons makes the top five almost purely on location. This is not a slight; their coffee is great, the ladies making it look even greater and I’d cross London just for a spoonful of the homemade bircher muesli. But much like Monmouth Street in central, Broadway Market is simply a killer spot to watch the world go by. And these cats take their coffee seriously. This is the place I first learnt the difference between a double Macchiato and a Piccolo, and that if you want a Cappuccino and are struggling with self confidence, order a Gibraltar and you’ll not only get the coffee you wanted but will be surrounded by a crew of hot women blown away by your obscure coffee knowledge.

Tapped & Packed
Rathbone Place & Totenham Court Rd, W1

 These two outlets are pretty close together in the Noho area just north of Oxford St. Perhaps their greatest selling point is their own anonymity; the two shops can be identified only by the numbers 114 and 26 above their shopfronts, and their coffee cups are decorated with nothing but a lovely old school bicycle. But the service is friendly and fast, they make great sandwiches, and the décor is warm and inviting enough to prolong a quick pit stop into a long languid afternoon session on the black stuff. Tap that.”

So there you go. Consider yourself informed.

Visit this author of this at his brilliant blog:

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Restaurant, chef and food enthusiast.

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