London Journals

The Importance of Earnest Beans: Best London Cafes

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A travel journal to London by sararevell

Coffee Photo, London, England More Photos
Quote: Cafes have been around for long enough in London but the concept of quality coffee has taken a while to catch on. For visitors looking for a cup of something more inspiring than what’s on offer at Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero, I hope this guide will help.

Finding Good Coffee in London

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Story/Tip

Coffee Photo, London, England
Quote:
Not so long ago, finding a good cup of coffee in London was like trying to find the Holy Grail. A few big corporations tried to fill the gap but their fast-drink, cookie cutter store culture was never going to satisfy coffee purists. Where they have failed, an entrepreneurial few are slowly finding success. Good news to those who care about coffee. In Soho, the grand-daddy Bar Italia is now having to spar with Antipodean newcomers Flat White and its sister store, Milk Bar as well as a fast-growing empire of Fernandez & Wells. Across Oxford Street, Kaffeine is lighting up Fitzrovia with its expensive espresso machine while Monmouth Coffee Company is trying to corner the market in Boroug...Read More

Central London

Bar Italia

Restaurant | "The Italian Old Timer"

Bar Italia Photo, London, England
Quote:
In the heart of London’s West End, sexagenarian cafe Bar Italia has managed not to stray far from its Italian roots. In spite of its age, it embraces Soho’s club culture by staying open 24 hours a day. The narrow café is stacked from counter to ceiling with bunting, fresh fruit, seasonal trinkets, Panettone towers and monikered coffee cups.Bar Italia serves alcohol as well as coffee but the drinks to order are caffelatte, espresso or cappuccino. The food is less impressive and a little overpriced but there are fewer places that are better to people watch than here. There is a constant tide of customers, some who just come in for a cursory glance at the sports playing on the lar...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 8, 2010

Bar Italia
22 Frith Street
London, England W1V 5TS
+44 20 7437 4520

Fernandez & Wells Cafe

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Restaurant | "Coffee and Cake in Soho"

Fernandez & Wells Cafe Photo, London, England
Quote:
A miniature Spanish empire is spreading across Soho in the form of Fernandez & Wells. Walk by St. Anne’s Court and you will find their espresso bar. Peak around the corner on Lexington Street and you’re face to face with their food and wine bar. So far I have only managed to visit the Beak Street café but I’m keen to find out how the sister stores check out. Fernandez & Wells big achievement is creating a space that manages to feel both intimate and peaceful. No mean feat for somewhere that is so close to the madness of Regent Street and Piccadilly. Carnaby Street is only about a five second walk away. The long narrow café has limited counter-side seating by way of meta...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 14, 2010

Fernandez & Wells Cafe
73 Beak Street
London, England W1F 9SR
+44 20 7287 8124

Kaffeine

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Restaurant | "Quality Caffeine, with a K"

Kaffeine Photo, London, England
Quote:
Don’t be fooled by the dodgy spelling. There is nothing suspect about Kaffeine’s abilities to brew a perfect cup of coffee. Relative newcomers to the London coffee scene, Kaffeine’s presence has not gone unnoticed with reviews in Time Out, The Independent and The Financial Times.The star attraction here is the Synesso Cyncra espresso machine. The Synesso, which hails from Seattle, will set you back a few thousand pounds, so you know immediately that Kaffeine is serious about what it serves in a cup. Beans come from Square Mile Coffee Roasters and expert baristas churn out lattes with creamy foam toppings that can be enjoyed by the spoonful. Being a joint Australian / New Zealan...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 8, 2010

Kaffeine
66 Great Titchfield Street
London, England
0207 580 6755

Milk Bar

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Restaurant | "Top Notch Soho Coffee"

Quote:
Milk Bar is the more laid back twin of nearby Flat White. A little more space on a quieter side street may have given Milk Bar a slight edge over the cramped bad attitude of Flat White. But for all the annoying bravado that random staff members display at both establishments, the coffee is superb and that is reason enough to go back time after time. Milk Bar has the outward appearance of a retro ice cream parlour, but as soon as you get past the fake plastic door curtains you know the whole place is about the coffee. I do have to give a special mention to the milkshakes served up in tall beakers. If the coffee weren’t so good, I probably would have ordered one of those by now to get a gira...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 8, 2010

Milk Bar
3 Bateman Street
London, England W1D 4AG
020 7287 4796

Tapped & Packed

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Restaurant | "Perfect Saturday Coffee at No. 26"

Tapped & Packed Photo, London, England
Quote:
I am hoping it’s only a matter of time until the increasing number of independent coffee shops that have popped up in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair decide to launch a direct attack on the series of bland Oxford Street chain cafés. One candidate to lead such assault would be Tapped & Packed, its store front on Rathbone Place identifiable only by a coffee bicycle and oversized door number. Inside there are clean lines of timber, steel and leather and equally pretty clusters of clocks, teaspoons and pastries. We ordered two small lattes and two flaky croissants with once-hot cheese and ham. The lattes arrived in glasses, topped with a crown of milk bubbles and a coffee coloure...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 16, 2011

Tapped & Packed
26 Rathbone Place
London, England W1T 1JD
020 7580 2163

East London

Albion

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Restaurant | "The Albion Revisited"

Albion Photo, London, England
Quote:
It had been about eight months since we last went to The Albion on Boundary Street and having talked it up to some friends, we felt a return visit was long overdue. Still as popular as ever and maintaining it’s reservation-less system, we arrived at around 11.30am on a Saturday morning hoping that would be time enough to get a table for four by midday. Our plan worked. We were seated at 12pm and by 12.30pm almost all the tables were taken. The cafe itself has changed little. Planks of freshly baked bread and cakes are proudly displayed at the kitchen counter and the menu remained largely the same. We ordered drinks: a pot of tea, a Meantime lager called ‘Union’, an orange juice and an elde...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 13, 2011

Albion
2-4 Boundary Street
Shoreditch, London E2 7DD
020-7729-1051

Albion

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Restaurant | "Brunch at The Albion"

Albion Photo, London, England
Quote:
Below The Boundary Hotel is The Albion, a bright, neat café and bakery on the dividing line of the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Close to Brick Lane, Hoxton Square and Spitalfields Market, The Albion is in an excellent starting point for exploring London’s east end shops and street markets.The first thing that grabs the attention is the sumptuous display of baked goods in and around the shop, which customers have to walk through in order to access the café. If that doesn’t whet your appetite nothing will. Passing slowly through the shop we reached the counter and it was then that panic set in, as we immediately regretted not making a reservation. Luckily a helpful wait...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 8, 2010

Albion
2-4 Boundary Street
Shoreditch, London E2 7DD
020-7729-1051

Allpress Espresso Roastery

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Restaurant | "Allperfect Espresso and Sandwich"

Allpress Espresso Roastery Photo, London, England
Quote:
I don’t know exactly when Allpress burst onto the scene but this place has immediately set the coffee bar extremely high. They make first-rate coffee and the food, or at least the one sandwich I’ve eaten here, is outstanding too. Our first visit was in mid-March for a quick take away latte and we instantly regretted not making Allpress our lunch stop as well. Blackboards advertise a mouth-watering array of sandwiches and croissants. The coffee impressed from the first sip and it was evident that these people roast as well as they pour. The rich roasted flavour of their coffee beans is completely encapsulated in the perfectly steamed milk, creating a latte that big name coffee chain stores ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 12, 2011

Allpress Espresso Roastery
58 Redchurch Street
London, England E2 7DP
020 7749 1780

Leila's Shop

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Restaurant | "Coffee near Columbia Road"

Leila's Shop Photo, London, England
Quote:
About ten minutes walk from the floral mayhem of the Sunday market on Columbia Road is an open kitchen with a scattering of wooden tables, chairs and designer stools. We had initially made a return trip to The Albion but the queue was almost out the door so we sped-walked to the peaceful café beside Arnold Circus in the hopes of finding a quicker brunch. This is one of the few places I’ve been to where the kitchen is visibly larger than the seating area. Spread out like a large farmer’s kitchen, the urge to walk through and start cooking is quite strong, especially with all the lovely pots and pans they have on display. Or maybe that’s just me. We took a seat at the edge of the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 8, 2010

Leila's Shop
17 Calvert Avenue
London, England E2 7JP
020 7729 9789

North London

Ginger & White

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Restaurant | "Ginger & White and all Things Nice"

Ginger & White Photo, London, England
Quote:
I have been to Ginger & White about a handful of times now, possibly more. It has a magnetic quality for my coffee-loving husband but even I must admit an affection for the place. Even when we have no plans to go to Hampstead we seem to invent a reason, just so we can stop at Ginger & White for coffee and a cupcake, muffin or slow roasted pork sandwich, or all four (just kidding). Despite being hidden away from Hampstead High Street along the pretty Perrin’s Court, do not underestimate the popularity of Ginger & White. The café is small, with a large communal table taking up most of the main area inside. This table in particular is popular with families as kids can scribble awa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 9, 2010

Ginger & White
4a-5a Perrins Court
London, England NW3 1QS
+44 20 7431 9098

The Haberdashery

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Restaurant | "Seasonal Sensations and Homebaked Cakes"

The Haberdashery Photo, London, England
Quote:
The Haberdashery is brand new to Crouch End as of 25th November, 2009. In what some would say is a brave move opening a new business in an area already full of good eateries, The Haberdashery is dressed to impress. Painted in gentle eggshell blue and lime white, the simplicity of design at this café ensures that all eyes are drawn towards the baked masterpieces on display in the window and beside the counter.Bread, muffins and cakes are all baked in store and set out in pretty terracotta flowerpots and on delicate china plates. The menu is also thankfully simple. On a cold and wet November day, the specials board consisted of four hot soups: pumpkin and nutmeg, spicy tomato, sweet potato a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 29, 2009

The Haberdashery
22 Middle Lane
London, England N8 8PL
020 8342 8098

Kentish Canteen

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Restaurant | "Fresh and Crunchy Lunch in Kentish Town"

Kentish Canteen Photo, London, England
Quote:
Kentish Canteen is handily located less than a minute from Kentish Town station and while I haven’t yet been there for dinner, I can definitely vouch for its lunch service. The one page menu manages to serve up a great range of seasonal and regular dishes and the place has a bright, colourful feel that few other places along Kentish Town Road can boast. Staff greet customers at the door but it is the pretty display of cakes, pastries and voluminous bowls of salad opposite the entrance that really make the first impression. Salads are so often relegated to plates of limp Caesar salad but Kentish Canteen makes a feature of them by offering an attractive list of small side dishes or a choice ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 28, 2011

Kentish Canteen
300 Kentish Town Road
London, England NW5 2TG
020 7485 7331

Spiazzo

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Restaurant | "Crouch End's Own Little Italy"

Spiazzo Photo, London, England
Quote:
Spiazzo Italian Food Hall holds possibly the prime retail position in Crouch End. Bang smack in the middle of the Broadway with the main bus stop just outside, it’s impossible to miss this place as it commandeers the corner of the main street’s only green area, which despite its small size, is a popular resting point for locals in the summer. Summer is Spiazzo’s busy season, when the outdoor seating area is as popular as the diminutive park it borders. However boxy booths inside fill up fast in the winter with chatty families and couples meeting up for a brunch date.The Italian influence can be felt as soon as you enter with a wide deli counter facing the entrance and stockpiles of pasta, ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 5, 2010

Spiazzo
26 The Broadway
London, England N8 9DR
+44 20 8347 6065