London may up a traveler’s liquid intake more than any other city. Just try planning a day that’s not marked by tipples like afternoon tea, evening Pimm’s Cups, and late-night beers at the pub. And this week, add coffee to the list: the World Barista Championship kicks off today in London with fanfare and foam.
The competition isn’t the only place in London you’ll find expertly brewed beans, of course, though London’s coffeehouse culture can be hard to navigate. (One IgoUgo member who just returned from London says she only found “weak coffee” and “more bad coffee.”) To aid in your quest, here are the places IgoUgo travelers recommend for your morning cup of joe in a city synonymous with tea.
sararevell says: “Coffee and thick hot chocolate are served in wide breakfast bowls, perfect for French-style pain au chocolat dunking if you stop in for breakfast. If they ever put in a fireplace and a sofa I might go in and never leave.”
duskmaiden says: “What I like about Paul is that it is a genuine French chain originating in Lille rather than a French-themed chain, so you get good hot chocolate and croissants rather than people in berets. Warm and welcoming, Paul is great for a quick snack or a revitalizing coffee and cake.”
Caffe Vergnano 1882
coops71 says: “Finally London has a place making decent coffee: Caffe Vergnano. These guys know how to make a decent latte--it takes a little more time but it’s worth it. This is great coffee and worth the detour if you're visiting the South Bank area of London.”
Market Coffee House
sararevell says: “The crusty white-bread sandwiches and creamy foamed lattes are too good to pass up, and if you’re in the mood, I’m sure the cakes are too. It has only been trading since 2001 but step inside and, aside from the modish baristas, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time.”
duskmaiden says: “Do you want reasonably priced food and drink in London with a strong commitment to ethical sourcing? I suggest Leon, one of my favorite places for a cool drink, a coffee, or a light snack. I've got my Leon loyalty card and I will definitely be collecting the stamps; it’s a nice change from all your run-of-the-mill chain coffee places.”
Kathy says: “I love Costa coffee. I can't figure out how Starbucks can exist in London with Costa shops around. They have excellent hot chocolate and cappuccinos, and lots of nice pastries and sandwiches for a quick lunch on the run.”
Monmouth Coffee Co. at Borough Market
Shady Ady says: “This market has to be my favorite place in London and although it can get busy, it isn't one of the top tourist hot spots, which means it keeps its appeal as a typically English market. One top stall and market operator is the Monmouth Coffee Company.”
Know another great place for coffee in London? Let us know: review it!
And for more of the world’s wonderful java experiences, see IgoUgo’s favorite places for coffee tourism.