The more you travel around London, the more you will appreciate the need for a good cup of coffee wherever you go. There are enough difficulties that come with navigating England’s complex, involving capital city without being able to get a good cup of coffee on the way. Any great coffee shop which gives you a moment of relaxation, or raises your quality of life while you are out at war with the urban jungle is clearly going to provide a great benefit.
All of the coffee shops listed here are simple and inexpensive, yet will bring you a moment of calm in the urban sprawl of London life.
For most London cafe’s, you may have to venture a bit off the beaten track, usually followed by a bit of searching. Cafes that still are in the centre will tend to be mega-chains like Starbucks or Costa Coffee. There aren’t many places within walking distance of Oxford Circus, so your option is to go to Starbucks, or go without coffee.
Unless you go to Flat White. This little gem of a coffee shop allows you to experience a taste of down under while in the heart of London. Don’t leave London without going to it. And ordering a Flat White, of course.
Flat White, 17 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0PT (020 7734 0370 / www.flat-white.co.uk). Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road tube.
It’s 10am on a Sunday Morning, and I have a few hours to kill before I have to head back for my flight. Ahead of me is a gruelling 10 hour marathon of a flight. Normally I’d just take my chances with the airline food and try and get some sleep on the plane. I decide to head out for some food.
There’s a problem. It can be difficult to find genuinely hearty food on a relatively tight budget – I’m not fond of the idea of blowing my notes on a useless pile of small change. But something has to give, I’m going to have a full days work when I get back. Am I doomed to one of those awful, miserable, stomach churning days?
Not when I go to Lantana Cafe in Fitzrovia. Lantana serves up hearty traditional Australian cuisine, and suits even the most discerning of tastes. You won’t have to shell out a huge amount of money, but you should be more than covered for food.
If the food is not your thing, there’s a really nice walk around lovely Fitzrovia on offer. Do what works for you, and enjoy a peaceful few hours around London.
Lantana, 13 Charlotte Place, W1T 1SN (020 7637 3347/www.scramblingeggs.blogspot.com). Goodge St tube.
Unfortunately, great coffee shops with a real philosophy underpinning them aren’t everywhere you’d want them to be. Wherever you are on your city break, every traveler eventually finds themselves in need of a place which is crafted with a real belief and identity. Life in a world of clone shops can be depressing, and experiencing coffee in a place that truly believes that coffee should be done well is good for the soul. A few minutes quiet reflection in such a place really helps put life into perspective.
Kaffeine is such a place – put your phone away and forget about your travel arrangements and your GPS for a minute – times like this, we need a real break.
It’s difficult to tell you about the menu at Kaffeine – its ever changing according to what is available in local markets. Its central enough for you to be able to nip in, but once you have, you’ll feel a world away so quickly that you might not want to leave. Kaffeine earns a place in any travellers itinerary.
Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 7QJ (020 7580 6755/www.kaffeine.co.uk). Oxford Circus tube.
London Review Cake Shop
Sometimes a coffee shop is perfect for their elegant charms. Unfortunately, so many have gone down this route now, it almost looks hackneyed. Step forward the London Review Cake Shop, a coffee shop perfect in its casual inelegance. Few places are designed to look as truly relaxed as the London Review Cake Shop, whilst remaining a perfect venue for chinwagging.
The cakes are locally source, and the Cake Shop provides fantastic customer service. On a budget, you can enjoy some of the most exquisite, honest cake and coffee which you have ever had in your life. And despite its proximity to the British Museum,
London Review Cake Shop, 14-16 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL (020 7269 9030/www.lrbshop.co.uk/cakeshop). Holborn tube
Pitch 42 @ Whitecross Street.
The coffee is inexpensive. Its crisp, well made, and uses a rare Linea mechanical paddle La Marzocco espresso machine. Wherever you go in London, make sure you’re around when Jeremy Challender pitches up his weekly stall with Lee Hart.
Get over to the Barbican, centre of many other things which are good about London. You’ll be tempted to drink everything, and the caffeine will blow away any cobwebs from the night before.
If you intend to do any kind of travelling around London, you need to be able to say to your friends you’ve been to Pitch 42. No matter where you go, people will be aware of this Shoreditch institution.
Pitch 42 @ Whitecross Street, Whitecross Street market, EC1Y. Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-2.30pm. Old Street or Barbican tube/rail.