By Lara Kavanagh in London—England may be better known for its tea drinkers, but one thing that helps keep the frenetic capital ticking over is its daily coffee. Visitors will notice that we’re a city overrun with chains, but there are some fantastic alternatives to the ubiquitous Starbucks and Costa branches. Here are three great specialist places that offer something a little different.
Considered by some to serve the best coffee in London, Milk Bar pulls in discerning visitors with its grungey look and with-it crowd. The famous flat white is a perfect size, strong, aromatic and smooth, born from a blend available only at Milk Bar and sister establishment Flat White, located just around the corner on Berwick Street, and equally crammed full of customers. The handy help-yourself water tap is a nice touch, and there are also chunky sandwiches, filled croissants and muffins on sale.
Espresso £1.80, flat white £2.50
Flat 1, 3-5 Bateman Street
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tel: 020 7287 4796
For one of east London’s finest morning pick-me-ups, head to the upmarket FoodHall on Old Street. Made using the Climpson and Sons espresso blend, and served with unfailing good cheer, the coffee here is flavoursome and well-balanced, and you’ll rarely leave without one of their delicious snacks to go with it. The deli-style food includes pastries, meringues, pies, and even full roast dinners and good quality heat-at-home meals.
Espresso £1.75, white coffee £2.50
374-378 Old Street
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9.30 a.m. to 5p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tel: 020 7729 6005
This cute, minimalist little place, on the approach to the Charlotte Street gastro hub, offers a rotating seasonal coffee menu featuring beans from several top-notch suppliers, and is a real connoisseur’s choice. Alongside the espresso menu, there are three brewing methods to choose from: filter, aeropress and siphon. Breakfast includes pastries and porridge, and there are fresh sandwiches, salads and soups for lunch. And those forgotten tea drinkers will be delighted to hear that there’s an impressive tea list here too.
Espresso £1.20, flat white £2.20
26 Rathbone Place
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tel: 020 7580 2163