London’s New Café Culture
Gasping for a cuppa in the Big Smoke? A new breed of cafés is offering spot-on coffee, inventive grub, and a local’s view of London. Katy Salter takes a slurp
Ginger & White, Hampstead
Hidden down a lane in elegant Hampstead, Ginger & White makes a great boutique-hopping pit stop. It’s a patriotic place serving traditional treats like lemon drizzle cake and upscale takes on caff favorites, including a bacon butty with spiced tomato ketchup. Don't miss the fine coffee, made with seasonal beans from East London-based Square Mile roasters, that Ginger & White’s owners pride themselves on.
Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell
In architect-crammed Clerkenwell, this award-winning, industrial-looking café has its own coffee roaster, a living plant wall, skull-and-crossbones wallpaper, and a wrap-around coffee bar. The flat white (an espresso with steamed milk, which originated in Australia) is one of London’s best: pair it with the passion fruit friand cake. The Dexter burger, topped with Comté, is the evening must-order.
Lantana’s strong coffees (it’s run by Aussies, who know their flat whites) and addictive sweets have a cult following. Our favorites include the Lantana crack cake, a mini Hummingbird number topped with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. The tasty brunch offerings, which include grilled halloumi with roast tomatoes and banana bread with spiced mascarpone, are also recommended.
Fernandez & Wells, Embankment
The east wing of one of London’s most famous public buildings, the 18th-century, neoclassical Somerset House, provides an imposing backdrop for this outpost of the Spanish café mini-chain — it even has its own ham room. Prep for ice-skating on the House’s rink with the Iberico platter and a glass of rioja. Alternatively, skip over to South Kensington, where a fifth Fernandez & Wells branch recently opened, a short stroll from the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Ozone Coffee, Shoreditch
Trendy Shoreditch has more than its fair share of superlative coffee spots. Ozone Coffee Roasters, which was founded in New Zealand and opened this bi-level former industrial space in March, stands out for its single origin, flavorful cups and mean brunch (hits include organic porridge with candied pistachio and baked eggs with halloumi and lentils). When you’ve had your fill, make like a Silicon Roundabout guy or girl (Shoreditch is London’s answer to Palo Alto) and grab a bag of the house-roasted coffee beans to go.
The Breakfast Club, Soho
To experience the greasy spoon all grown up, head to this canary-yellow caff where the walls are covered in 80s memorabilia, Madonna and Prince blast from the speakers and the giant breakfasts, served well into the evening, are the salvation of many an over-served Londoner. Skip the pancakes, huevos rancheros and eggs Benedict and spring for the Full Monty, an English fry-up of the first order, right down to the black pudding.
Wilton Way, Hackney
It doesn’t get much more hipster than this indie café in arty Hackney, London’s answer to Williamsburg: the furniture is made from old apple crates, the WiFi is free, and London Fields Radio Station spins from a little booth in the corner. Local producers, including Violet, maker of exquisite cupcakes, supply the menu; the avocado on sourdough toast with lemon and chilli is a revelation.
Federation Coffee, Brixton Village
Federation’s rich, nutty flat whites and pastries provide the perfect fuel for a wander through Brixton Village, Southwest London’s derelict covered market-turned-buzzing food destination, where you can sample everything from Moroccan to Thai; tapas to sourdough pizza, shop in vintage stores and listen to live music. You’d never guess you were a 20-minute tube ride from Buckingham Palace.
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