They call it third wave coffee; there’s even an app for it. It’s the rise of the independent coffee bar and it seems to be mostly driven by Antipodeans. In the UK it seems to be centred on London; though I hear there is great coffee outside the M25. I’m already checking out the Birmingham scene and have come across a few indies elsewhere. Here are a few suggestions of places I have tried in London.
Coming from Southampton area I usually park the car at Richmond and take the train to Waterloo. A few doors down from Richmond station is…
Taylor St Baristas – Kew Road, Richmond
After a brief hiatus when the premises they shared with a deli closed Taylor St Baristas are back in Richmond. It’s great to always greeted by the Australian trained baristas behind the bar as soon as I come in. The iced latte was cool, and tasted like coffee not milk, cream and sugar. They do a mean espresso too using Union Roast and also offer feature coffees from other UK roasters. Apart from the ubiquitous espresso based coffees there aeropress and filter options. With great coffee and free wifi there is the risk you might miss your train here.
While indie coffee bars tend to be concentrated closer to the centre of the capital there are a few willing to set up in south-west London who have loyal clientele. An indie coffee bar, worth getting off the train at Putney, is…
Grind Coffee Bar – 79 Lower Richmond Road, Putney
This is one of very few coffee bars in south-west London. In my opinion they make the best flat white in all London not just SW. Others come close but I’ve not found anywhere to equal it. I’ll find any excuse to stop here for their healthy fruit, granola and yoghurt breakfast with a flat white. Failing that a white chocolate and raspberry muffin will do… with the flattie of course.
From south-west London to central London and New Row in Covent Garden. Wander down this lane, past La Gelatiera (reviewed here) to…
New Row Coffee – 24 New Row (where else?), Covent Garden
This diminutive coffee bar really punches above its weight as far as coffee is concerned. They claim on their Twitter bio and their shop front window that they make “kick ass coffee”. Certainly their flat white supports that statement. You can drink your brew at the bar, a couple of tables inside or the benches outside. They also serve pour over coffees and have free wifi. Cosy but immediately welcoming.
Close by and still in West End Theatreland is the rather eclectic…
Foxcroft and Ginger – 3 Berwick Street, Soho
This place is wonderfully eclectic and bohemian, particularly downstairs. Leather gymnastic horses with bar stools along with a mix of chairs tables and old leather sofas create a wonderful atmosphere. The coffee is brewed to near perfection especially the flat white which came in their trademark mismatched crockery. Foxcroft and Ginger are famous for their carrot and ginger cake and Chelsea buns. I highly recommend the buns which are baked on the premises and served warm.
Up in nearby Fitzrovia is the ever popular…
Kaffeine – 66 Great Titchfiekld Street, Fitzrovia
Bare brickwork with packing box style seating gives the feel of a coffee warehouse. They serve a top notch mocha; one that tastes of chocolate and coffee with neither overpowering the other. The flat white has a distinctive and very smooth taste with great latte art on top. From the moment you enter you notice a real vibe; in Fitzrovia it is the place to be. They served amazing chocolates when I was there last; it’s worth going just for those but it would be criminal not to taste their coffee.
There is a cluster of coffee bars out east. It’s hard to pick just one out but I chose…
Nude Espresso – 26 Hanbury Street
This is a small cafe with seating in the windo and outside and a little cosy nook at the back. Serving coffee roasted in their mini roastery just around the corner Nude Espresso concentrate on, and allow, the coffee bean to determine the flavour. This they do very successfully. The espresso was strong, well rounded with definite chocolate notes and they serve the best flat white in the East End. On a wet drizzling day it is easy to spend half a morning here.
There are plenty more London coffee bars to sample, and a few not worth sampling and there are several apps that will help you navigate your way around them. I’ll be reviewing these later so if you don’t want to miss that post subscribe and receive notifications of future posts and further reviews.