I’m a coffee snob.
Yet I never thought of myself as one back in coffee-obsessed Wellington. This was a city where a Starbucks on Lambton Quay, in the central business district, was replaced by local chain Mojo. Late night cafes, and meeting up with friends for coffee and cake rather than a beer was pretty common. You can even find good coffee in small, out of the way towns.
I was used to being able to simply rock up to any decent-looking cafe, and expect a good, barista-made, strong, tasty coffee. And so, like many of my fellow Antipodeans living in London, I found it very hard to adjust to the London coffee scene, particularly when I first moved here in 2012.
Eagerly, I would ask my colleagues and friends about good places for coffee, only to be repeatedly let down by their recommendations (to be fair, often this was for high street chain places). Almost everything tasted dreadfully weak – like ‘essence of coffee’ – or had simply been burnt to oblivion.
It was only when a fellow Antipodean tipped me off to the London Coffee App (and book) that I started to find my way to the city’s coffee hotspots. And over the past few years, it seems that the number of places that really know how to make a good brew are ever increasing, and not just in hipster-centric Shoreditch. That said, it is not as ubiquitous as it was in NZ, sometimes you do have to go for a bit of a hunt. Still fearful of terrible coffee, I tend to do my research before trying out somewhere new.
Here are a few places I’ve discovered – more to be added to this list as I try them!
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane and others
Fernandez and Wells, Somerset House and others
Fleet River Bakery, Holborn
Fleet Street Press, Fleet Street and Chancery Lane
Jar Kitchen, Drury Lane
Monmouth Coffee, Borough Market and others
Notes Coffee, Trafalgar Square and others
Sacred, Soho and other branches
Brown and Green Cafe, Crystal Palace Traingle and others
Duck Egg Cafe, East Dulwich
Anderson & C0., East Dulwich/Peckham
*Disclaimer: not all coffee in New Zealand is good – we of course have our fair share of Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, and other similar chains.