Monmouth coffee, Monmouth St, WC2

The king of coffees, perched between Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road.
Coffee *****
£1.35
Service ****
Environment *** (functional and bit cramped)

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Double Shot, 38 Tavistock St, WC2E 7PB (nr Covent Garden market, theatres – off Drury Lane)

Quite a find in an area known for ‘variable’ quality and tourist traps, this is a fantastic coffee shop – fabulous, comfy sofas, quirky but elegant decor, and excellent coffee. I completely forgive the above-average prices, given the rents in this area. Worth seeking out if you’re in Covent Garden or at the Royal Opera or a theatre nearby. You might even catch a famous face from the surrounding stages.
Coffee **** (great tobacco flavours, though I needed 2 sugars!)
Environment *****
Service ****

Poll: Where do you think the coffee is best?

I’m curious if I’m missing an area of London that serves great coffee. I’ve visited over 200 places (not all are up on the site yet) in lots of London, but there are whole regions of this vast metropolis that I have never explored, and many more where I have merely passed through.

Let me know your suggestions in the poll below, and I’ll check them out.

Cafe Pistou, Exmouth Market

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On the western corner of Exmouth Market, opposite the hipster hangout Caravan and beside Nero’s is this lovely, earthy, French-style cafe. New, I think – yes, since November 2014.

Probably about 20 small tables inside and a couple outside, it’s a relaxed place at 8:30 on weekday mornings. The central square bar has a commanding view over all patrons, so service was quick and friendly. It is more of a restaurant than just a coffee shop or café, but relaxed enough to be welcoming and family-friendly.

Espresso was – thankfully – Italian, not French style. Citrus, sweetness, very like a long Monmouth coffee. Very pleasant, though I am glad I put a sugar in.

Lovely place; I’ll come again.

Coffee ****
£2.20
Environment ****

Holborn Grind, 199 High Holborn WC1V

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Part coffee bar, part evening cocktail bar. Nice sandwiches on offer. Like Carluccios: fat focaccia and salamis. Expensive though, and only about 5 small tables and a bar at the window.

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When I have visited, there seemed more staff than customers – and then hundreds more customers than the small size could cope. Worth dropping in when you are in the area. There are others nearby (not as many as there used to be), but this has a cool vibe.

Coffee ****
£2.20
Environment ****

Sampa, Leather Lane (Clerkenwell Rd)

Sampa is a great alternative to the better-known coffee shops in the middle of Leather Lane. It is not cheap, but seems a bit more friendly and less…over-cool.

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Attractive and deceptively spacey coffee shop on the corner of Portpool Lane. Good selection of seats and benches, with views of the market outside. Lots of snacks and baked goods for sale to go along with your coffee, and a good selection of coffees and teas (the coffee is roasted in Shoreditch by Ozone, apparently).

Sampa

Good espresso, albeit at Leather Lane prices. I prefer here to Dept of Coffee and Social Affairs and Prufrock, just 100m up the road. Not stepped over the hipster line – just enough hipster, let’s say (is that a thing?).

I’ll be back, although I suspect it gets busy at lunchtime.

Coffee ****
£2.30
Environment ****

Nude Espresso Roasters, Hanbury St (Spitalfields/Brick Lane)

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I’ve not been in this part of London for months, and it’s lunchtime, so many café places have queues out the door. I’m lucky enough to wander into the cavernous Nude Espresso Roasters for a lovely, dark, bitter but in a nice way espresso.

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There are two big tables and benches at both windows. 60s hits play. It’s nice.

Coffee *****
£2
Environment ***

The Vape Lab, 232 Shoreditch High St (Shoreditch station)

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Well, this was short and sticky and went down so nicely that there was nothing left to picture except the cute little beaker it was served in.

The shop specialises in vaping – alternatives to real cigarettes. It’s new – only open a few weeks when I visited – and smells faintly of strawberry. Like a hookah café.

There are 4 tables and a small bench, and the inside is very pleasant. Coffee is excellent. Worth stopping off at, even if you’ve no intention of trying any of the vapours.

Coffee ****
£1.90
Environment ****

Pitfield, 31-35 Pitfield St, Hoxton / Shoreditch

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Half furniture shop, half café, Pitfield is a curious mash-up with food, drink, pizza and futons. Imagine going to Habitat or Heal’s and sitting down in the display to eat. But it works. I’ll definitely come back.

The coffee is long and weak – very ‘French’ – but perfectly pleasant. It’s not the cheapest, but there are more expensive options nearby too.

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Coffee ***
£2.15
Environment ****
Others **** (food & furniture – though it’s not licenced)

Shoreditch Grind, Old St Roundabout

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Well, at £2.20 for the cheapest espresso it’s hardly a low cost option, and the two wood tables and benches around the windows provide only wooden stools and chairs, so comfort’s not premium.

Service (on a Sunday morning) is business-like rather than friendly, and so slow that a croissant and espresso took nearly 15 minutes to be brought to the table (there were probably four orders ahead of mine). In fact, I had to remind staff of the food order. So it has to be the coffee that justifies the price tag. Right?

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Well, it’s nice – treacle-ish and powerful. It’s good coffee. But overall, this place was very hard to love.

Coffee ****
£2.20
Environment **
Others ** (service & speed were poor)