We all have preferences for caffeine and various elements influence our choice ranging from convenience to good fortune (lucky you should you reside within reach of an independent supplier).
On various expeditions throughout the Capital I have sought out spots to record, as much as a reminder for myself as for your own knowledge.  This list will be added to as and when I stumble upon other sources so for a guaranteed cup of caffeinated joy, I give to you these cafes worth a pilgrimage.
My preference in cup is black and without sugar so my approach is purist.  The milkier varieties have also been met with equal applause so you can look forward to a cappuccino, flat white, latte, macchiato, cortado or any number of the others that are now available.
You will not (thankfully) be exposed to sugar syrups, artificial flavourings, uniformed staff or bad background music.

 

Curious Yellow Kafe

This Swedish cafe, placed perfectly alongside the cycle route into the City on Pitfield Street is indeed curiously yellow; the canary yellow door, lemons by the counter, mustard on the table, overhead lamps…even the pedestrian crossing’s flashing yellow lights seemed to compliment the setting.  Sustainable and organic was the perception I got; recycled paper napkins, wooden takeaway cutlery…menu for breakfast and lunch including a Baked Aubergine with herb/couscous stuffing.  Pastries and cakes also available at counter as well as a selection of tea leaves including a ‘Studio 54’ mix.  Nice.  Coffee from Darlingtons, a Brazilian dark roast.  Smooth, not bitter and a perfect balance of espresso and water.  Mutual respect that one does not over exert the vocal chords first thing in the morning.

9/10

Tina, We Salute You

Certain words strike you when you enter somewhere for the first time; dark, loud, clean…. “Nose” was not one I expected however the walls of this cafe are abundant with the things, noses on photos, fixtures, everywhere!  Whether there is a hidden meaning or just an eccentric decorative feature, it strangely seemed fitting in this creatively designed coffee shop.

I had passed Tina various times but again, never ventured in (how many times have you done this?) so I made a personal appointment to stop by and I’m so pleased I did.  Another caffeinated charmer to add to my list.  After ordering my Americano at the tillpoint whilst admiring the dark chocolate cake, flapjacks and other sugary treats in vicinity, I then sat down to continue admiration of the aesthetic of my surroundings.  Cool-looking overhead lamps and a slightly mono approach to the background very much soothed my eyes-half-shut mood of the morning.  Being in a more ‘residential’ area, a few pockets of children flitted in and out with a bigger companion, however it was the 1st day at school (so me thinks it was more a visit for the parents).  Food options on their chalk board (Cash only) included a chorizo, red pepper and rocket concoction as well as eggs in various form (poached with herbs) however I had come for the grounded bean!  And it was perfect; right sized cup, nice head, strong and firm in flavour right up until the last drop.  Red Brick (Square Mile) coffee was the blend. The “Welcome back!” into the world I needed.  Box ticked.  See you again soon.

10/10

Fred & Fran

It is interesting to observe the difference in clientèle for cafes on a weekend morning versus weekday.  Only at weekends will you mostly find a mixture of mothers (on this occasion talking about the removal of dead skin from her child’s feet) to the defiant (although fragile) hungover emergents, hankering for a brunch-filled morning.  Fred and Fran is extremely local and does extremely good brunch, so environment must be adapted to in order to enjoy a good cup of coffee.  Folky music drifts throughout the natural, wooden surroundings with freshly baked (as in still in the tin they were baked in) sausage rolls, muffins and pastries eager for consumption at the counter.  Its a dreamy place where the sun always seems to be shining when I visit and I feel amidst picture-perfect families that should be featured in a coffee-table publication.  The coffee arrives with a shy smile from staff who are a fine balance between friendly and withdrawn, but this is mainly down to the demand for their wonderful food and drink.  One of very few places that consistently provide a gratis sweet niblet with your coffee which comes robust and oil-slick black.  It was consumed vigorously due to my own tender state.  Red Brick (Square Mile) coffee again, which is of popular local use.  Reliable and tasty.

8/10

Gossip

This little gem in Broadway Market could be easily overlooked amongst the beautiful people and market stalls in close proximity (which provide an alternative distraction).  I have visited on a few occasions, at first seduced by the selection of vegan cakes on display at the front counter.  Various teapots in all shapes and sizes as well as an extremely lengthy choice of tea blends decorate their front window and interior walls, however I had come for an afternoon pick-me-up following the remnants of a warm day.  The atmosphere inside is very ‘sustainable’ and a state of Zen is induced by the sound of wind chimes blowing in the wind from the garden, as well as the earthy colour-scheme, lampshades on the tables and choice of books on the shelves (ranging from dream exploration to inspiring figures in history).  Background music was jazzy interspersed with screechy sax sounds, not at all invasive.   The coffee arrived and I was most pleased with my concoction; a good size for a ‘small’, excellent balance of coffee to water and smooth, so easy to sup.  Interestingly not one of the trendy choices of coffee-bean as relatively unheard of in name, by Coffee Plant, Colombian of roast and fairtrade/organic.  Loved every sip.

9/10

Salvation Jane

A closed local cafe led me to explore a yet-to-be-entered coffee shop by the bustling Old Street roundabout.  Not a location of choice due to its incredible salmon-flow of workers in out and of the tube exits, I had first noticed this relatively new spot on the bus.  The first thing that struck me was the innate friendliness of the entire team.  No longer than a few seconds had I walked in and my presence was acknowledged with a friendly “Be with you in a moment!”.  Plentiful supplies of croissants, muffins and cakes greet you on entry, as well as not just 1 but 2 coffee machines to drip and supply to customers.  Square Mile is again the bean of choice and the breakfast menu is varied and enticing with simple options of sourdough toast from Gails to more intriguing dishes such as Thyme roasted Portobello mushrooms and goats cheese with crisp polenta, cress and poached egg.  The decor simulates the comfort and security of a family kitchen, with rustic wooden tables and seating, ceramic painted pots for sugar and flying ducks on the walls.  A lot of thought has clearly gone into the space which is large enough for various groups to come together.  My Long Black arrived with another friendly smile, however as delicious as it was, it simply was not long enough for my morning addiction.  The quality of service and sunny nature of the staff (not in an obtrusive way, in the sing-along to music in the background way) more than made up for this though so I aim to return.  A welcome alternative to the many coffee providers in Old Street.

8/10

Aubaine

An important birthday saw me visit the rarely frequented South West of London, so on a corner of Brompton Road I ventured inside the self-described ‘French Revolution in London’s all-day dining scene’ for breakfast and a cup of Joe.  One of 5 locations (all based in affluent areas), it was not my a-typical choice but the array of cakes and homely atmosphere beckoned to me (and with Mother in tow, it suited our hungry bellies).  With a team of possibly some of the most-efficient staff I have ever encountered, I was mesmerised by perfectly orchestrated proceedings. Coffee/Tea ordered, subservient, smiling staff swooping in and out to deliver extremely prompt brunch from a very diverse menu including omelettes with smoked salmon or ham (egg-white option available, this is Chelsea after all), selection of fougasse (that’s lattice shaped bread to you and I) and other veritably crowd-pleasing choices with a French attention to detail.  My coffee (by Musetti) arrived and was gulped down as efficiently as the service; smooth, not too long and not too short (with individually wrapped sugar cubes.  The mind boggles).  If I am lucky enough to one day afford to live in such areas, I will no doubt become more regular, however until then, they are on the tick-list of reliable coffee spots.  Bravo.

9/10

Workshop

This is a coffee lovers dream.  On a busy Sunday brunch-time, I manage to secure a table through a diligent friend and sit down to the ample menu.  They operate Tues-Sun and offer bookable lunch and dinners weekdays, with unbookable but SO worth the wait brunch at the weekend (Toasted banana bread with a date & orange jam, crowned with an espresso mascarpone for example.  Words are not enough to describe its splendour).  But back to the coffee.  This Clerkenwell operation have a coffee roaster and grinder on site.  The waiting staff are all thoroughly knowledgeable and consistently friendly, even with the resonating weekend voices darting around the warehouse-like walls.  Service is speedy and my coffee comes without time for finger tapping which was perfectly balanced.  I tasted a unique coffee exclusive to Workshop (they do have their own roaster after all) which was resplendent; Cult of Done be the name of this bean, Honduran/Ethiopian in blend and peachy in flavour (or so the barista stated, however I’m inclined to agree).  An honour to visit and will be back again rather soon.

10/10

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