The best coffee shops in London
22nd May 2018
London is one of the most exciting and innovative cities in the world, making it a great place to live, work and explore. Whether you are permanently based in the capital or just travel there occasionally for business, you will find that there is always something new to discover in this lively, vibrant and eclectic destination.
One of the many areas in which London excels itself compared to anywhere else in the UK is its cutting-edge approach to the humble coffee shop. These days, you are almost as likely to find chef-led lunch menus and exotic cocktails in your local London café as you are lattes and cappuccinos, with each location now offering its own unique take on the traditional coffeehouse experience.
High-quality coffee shops can also be great places for hosting informal meetings with your clients, for grabbing an energy-boosting take-away drink to enjoy on your commute, or even for getting some work done on your own in peace and quiet. The relaxing atmosphere and great refreshments available in London’s best coffee hotspots are conducive to productivity and creative thought, providing a welcome change of scenery from the often stifling office environment.
With this in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to some of the capital’s very best options when it comes to serving up great coffee and freshly-prepared food in a memorable setting.
Something that is very noticeable about the best coffee shops in London is that their mission often goes far beyond that of providing a traditional café space in which customers can enjoy a quick slice of cake and cup of something hot. This is certainly the case with our first choice, Curators Coffee, who pride themselves on delivering a memorable and high-quality customer experience via their two London locations (as well as their burgeoning external catering service).
Curators Coffee's vision is to curate a range of the best coffee, equipment, drinks and food to share with their customers. They serve specialty coffees, teas and freshly prepared food from their in-house kitchen.
Their house espresso changes with the seasons and they rotate through rare, unique and attractive coffees from roasters around the world, to feature as guest coffees. The latest brewing equipment and retail coffee beans are also available to take home.
Their Studio store, located in the City off Fenchurch Street, opened its doors in 2012 and is a bustling and lively take-away shop with an emphasis on outstanding coffee and friendly customer service. Stop by for a delicious flat white and a chat with their friendly baristas. And if you find yourself near Oxford Circus you can visit their Gallery store, tucked just away from the hustle and bustle on Margaret Street.
The fare available at our next choice, Notes, is even more eclectic, as indicated by their own summary of what they offer: ‘From morning flat whites to evening espresso martinis’. In fact, you could spend a whole day at one (or more!) of their locations and enjoy something completely different at every sitting. Much more than your standard coffee shop, Notes – which has outlets in virtually all of London’s prime business areas and was a runner-up in the 2017 London Lifestyle Awards’ ‘Coffee Shop of the Year’ category – is exciting yet relaxing, and innovative yet classic.
We were able to speak with the team at Notes, who went into some more detail about their values and areas of expertise: ‘Notes is a collection of coffee and cocktail bars serving speciality coffee, craft beers, well-chosen wines and classic cocktails, all with a signature Notes twist.
‘We serve speciality coffee with soul, roasted under the meticulous eye of Fabio in Notes' East London Roastery. Our direct trade coffee beans come straight from farmers who take as much care in nurturing their coffee plants as we do roasting and brewing our beans. We focus on high grade, seasonal, single origin coffee, small batch roasted so that every delicate and unique flavour is translated in the cup.
‘Come see us for breakfast, brunch, lunch or our evening bar menu of cheeses, charcuterie and more. With branches in the West End, the City and Canary Wharf, you're never far from a Notes.’
It is worth bearing in mind that Notes is also available for private hire, providing the perfect setting for your firm’s next big celebration.
Tomtom Coffee House
Last but not least, we travel to the particularly sophisticated Tomtom Coffee House in the heart of stylish Belgravia. Another location which extends far beyond the traditional remit of the humble café, Tomtom are also experts in whisky and cigars – they have a sister location selling both near the coffee house – so certainly represent a unique proposition for your next business outing!
It’s the coffee we’re most interested in here, however, so we were pleased to learn more about the background of what’s available behind the counter from the team themselves:
‘Tomtom Coffee House is more than just another coffee shop. We have a very good reputation for producing one of the finest cups of coffee in the West End. Our drinks are made freshly from our own roast beans, using the best equipment on the market and by our expert Barista.
'Tom Assheton and Giles Dick-Read work together to source a unique and ethical selection of beans prepared weekly by Giles at his roasting rooms in Dorset, creating our own unique espresso and filter blends for the Coffee House.
‘Freshness is the key to our coffee, so we roast little and often to ensure that all coffee in stock is less than two weeks away from the roaster – the optimum time in which to enjoy the coffee, although it will keep for much longer. And our loose teas are of the finest quality, perfectly brewed and served as tea should be.
‘Delicious food is offered all day, from breakfast boiled eggs to lunchtime pies, to afternoon cakes and summertime early evening nibbles. Choose from a range of freshly baked cakes, brownies and flapjacks along with our delicious homemade Poilâne toasties, prepared on the premises throughout the day.
‘We have a licence to serve alcohol, which allows us to offer other drinks including Meantime Brewery’s Bavarian-style draft beer and a selection of wines from our wine merchant. You can sit outside the Coffee House with a Cuban Havana supplied by our cigar store.’
Of course, the above choices represent only a small selection of the wide range of excellent coffee shops and cafes which are scattered throughout the great city of London. Here are a few top-reviewed examples which you could also consider visiting:
Just one of the many advantages of securing one of the jobs in the legal sector that become available every month in London is that practitioners are often given the opportunity to travel around the city, meeting those they represent in a variety of interesting settings, and we hope that this article has given you a little inspiration for where to go in future. You never know – taking your clients to one of the fantastic coffee houses described above could make or break that next crucial meeting!