One of the best ways to experience the thriving, complex beauty of London is by finding a good cafe to sit and reflect, observe, revive… and while you’re at it, experience some of the best food and coffee the city has to offer. Here are 10 of London’s top cafes, all offering quality coffee, yummy eats and an essential serve of personality.
Flat White 17 Berwick Street
This warm and casual retreat on Soho’s bustling market street serves one of London’s best coffee drops, with a side of boutique charm. Named after the strong, silk-foam-topped espresso commonly served down under, Flat White is the kind of cafe that makes you feel simultaneously at home and like you’re indulging in a forbidden delight. Inside you’ll find the walls lined with a welcoming mix of coffee-lovers, resting shoppers, business meetings and walk-weary tourists who have heard about the Aussie-Kiwi cafe on a mission to reshape British cafe culture.
Flat White 17 Berwick Street, Soho W1F 0PT – open weekdays 8am-7pm and weekends 9am-6pm
Camera Cafe 44 Museum Street, London
If you’re looking for a quirky, friendly hole-in-the-wall cafe to spend hours with a book or notepad, Camera Cafe is a great place to start. Tucked in a little street across from the British Museum, you hardly notice this nook from the front, but inside you’ll find a trading camera store combined with cosy cafe seats, shelves of oddities and endearingly daggy decor. Cafe highlights include the gluten-free sandwiches made to order, among other delicious lunch-type snacks, free wi-fi and a collection of regular photographers customers who make you feel like you’ve joined a secret society of London creatives.
Camera Cafe 44 Museum Street, London WC1A 1LY – open weekdays 11am-7pm and Saturday noon-7pm
Black Lab Coffee House 18 Clapham Common Southside
At the end of the southside pavement in Clapham Common you’ll find this unassuming gem of a cafe. Black Lab serves all the joys of cafe culture with none of the fuss, leaving to enjoy your gluten-free orange cake and perfectly heated piccolo in peace. Of particular note is the jazz/ world music / soul inspired tunes, the free unlimited wi-fi and the comfy lounges that make the Black Lab an ideal cafe for hours of work or relaxation.
Black Lab Coffee House 18 Clapham Common Southside, Clapham SW4 7AB – open weekdays 8am-5pm, Saturdays 9am-5pm and Sundays 10am-5pm
Allpress Espresso 58 Redchurch Street
Plonked bam-smack in street-art central of London’s shoreditch, Allpress offers a heady mix of simple, hearty food, communal wooden tables, friendly staff and seriously good, fairtrade coffee. Its no wonder that is seems to always be teeming with London’s creatives and intellectuals, sitting casually with the daily paper, a bicycle outside and an espresso in hand. Try the soup for a warming taste sensation.
Allpress Espresso 58 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch E2 7DP – open 8am-5pm daily
Muriel’s Kitchen 1-3 Pelham Street, South Kensington
Muriel’s Kitchen inspires eyes that are bigger than bellies. You’ll likely see the mouth-watering stacks of cakes, pastries and gourmet savouries from the street, which lure you into this homey cafe-bistro. Inspired by Grandma Muriel, the menu pays homage to good home cooking and fresh, local ingredients used to create the mix-and-match savoury sides that look and taste so spectacular. Muriel’s is also well-placed around the corner of South Kensington tube station, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, making it a likely choice for a sightseeing break.
Muriel’s Kitchen 1-3 Pelham Street, South Kensington, SW7 2ND – open Monday-Thursday 8am-10am, Friday-Saturday 8am-11pm, Sunday 9am-10pm
Milk Bar 3 Bateman Street
Owned by the same genius mob who started Flat White, this is another Soho cafe worth a visit. The coffee is just as impressive but there is a more bohemian feel to this cafe, with black walls and interesting art to inspire moody ponderings. Foods include a welcome selection of gluten-free and vegan snacks and an all day brekky. If you’re lucky you’ll get a ghost, crossbones or some other quirky shape in your coffee froth.
Milk Bar 3 Bateman Street, Soho W1D 4AG open weekdays 8am-7pm and weekends 9am-6pm
Look Mum No Hands 49 Old Street
Mixing the joy of cycling with the joys of coffee and good food, this airy cafe has a wholesome feel and a menu to match. A functioning same-day bike repair workshop is right inside the door and long wooden benches seat workers on laptops and street-watching dreamers. There is also an outdoor court, where you can eat your lentil soup or beefy pie when the gloriously rare London sunshine comes out to play.
Look Mum No Hands 49 Old Street, Old Street EC1V 9HX – open Monday-Friday 7.30am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm, Sunday 10am-10pm
Albion Cafe 2-4 Boundary Street
Quaint wicker baskets holding vegetables and bread mark the entrance to this clean-edged, bakery / food store. Inside, deli-inspired shelves displays cakes, loaves, jars and bottles, drawing you into the spacious and calm room of long wooden tables. The coffee is pleasing, the kedgeree is delicious and the service is quite polite, making this a lovely retreat from the spirited Shoreditch streets.
Albion Cafe 2-4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch E2 7DD – open 8am-11.30pm daily
The Book Club 100 Leonard Street
The high ceilings and battered brick walls of this former Victorian warehouse make a great setting for a mid-week breakfast or drop-in coffee (that could easily be extended into an evening of artsy-intellectual events). Decorated with sunny child-like scribbles and light, modern decor, The Book Club has an easy-going vibe that encourages relaxation and creativity. By night, The Book Club effortlessly slips on its ‘bar’ hat and hosts well curated calendar of art/brain/skill-centric events.
The Book Club 100 Leonard Street, Old Street EC2A 4RH – open Monday-Wednesday 8am-midnight, Thursday-Friday 8am-2am, Saturday 10am-2am, Sunday 10am-midnight
Recipease 48-50 St Johns Road
An enterprise by the internationally loved celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, Recipease in Battersea offers an exciting mix of deli-style shopping, cafe yumminess and that famous hands-on Jamie approach. Functioning as a cafe and a cooking school, this cafe has an open kitchen, letting you watch the chefs in action. Although marginally higher on the price scale, the breakfasts here are particularly amazing, giving you a hearty dose of fresh food, fragrant coffee and visual stimulation to start your morning. The wonderfully trained staff also make the whole experience a delight. When you see the obnoxious pastel pink facade, you’ll know you’re there.
Recipease 48-50 St Johns Road, Battersea SW11 1PR – open Monday-Friday 8am-9pm, Saturdays 8am-8pm, Sundays 9am-7pm