After spending Mondays to Saturdays serving people in the café, on Sundays I get immense pleasure from sitting in someone else’s café, reading the paper and drinking coffee. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy.
Unfortunately, it also doesn’t take much to send me into a blind rage. Bad coffee will do it.
I have discovered through bitter, and watery, experience that there can be no accidental good coffee finds in London. You need to know where you are going as the odds of walking into a random café and finding decent coffee are about 16 (listed below) in 1000.
The other weekend I was heading to the Tate Britain in Pimlico and wanted to stop somewhere en-cycle for my Sunday ritual. I sat at the computer googling ‘good coffee’ and the names of the areas I would pass through but after about half an hour decided to chance the coffee at the Tate Britain rather than waste the entire morning at home.
The café at the top of the Tate Modern actually does decent coffee – in a pretty amazing setting.
At the Tate Britain on the other side of the Thames, the café and the espresso bar are in the bowels of the building with no views to distract you. Straight away I knew my coffee was going to be a huge disappointment as I saw the disinterested, grumpy man behind the coffee machine ignoring the most basic coffee making rules - not wiping the basket clean of the old grinds, not tamping properly, not flushing between shots, scalding the milk…
My anger (why hadn’t someone taught this guy how to make coffee) and frustration (I was now dying for a coffee with no alternatives nearby) grew as I waited in the queue, desperately wanting to give him some tips before he made my coffee but knowing that I couldn’t as it would make me the most annoying person on the planet.
So instead I stood there quietly and seethed on the inside, hoping that by some miracle he would fluke a good coffee. Unfortunately this book could be judged by the cover: frothy over heated milk covering watery coffee. The final insult is that they charge £2.5 for the disappointment.
What I need, what London needs, is a map of all the places where you can get good coffee – something along the lines of Breakfastout, a website which lists only the best places for breakfast/brunch in Melbourne and Sydney.
I have developed a mental map of where to go for coffee but London is a big city and this list leaves a lot of soil unchartered, for instance, the Pimlico area.
My coffee out list so far:
Barbican: Dose Espresso
Bloomsbury: Bea’s of Bloomsbury, London Review of Books
Borough Market: Monmouth
Broadway Market: Climpson and Sons
Covent Garden: Monmouth
Marylebone: The Providores
Nottinghill: Coffee Plant, The Electric (both are a bit hit and miss these days)
Soho: flat white, Milkbar, Fernandez and Wells
Spitalfields: Taylor St Baristas, Nude Espresso, Market Coffee House
Does anyone know of other places doing good coffee in London?
Thanks Charmaine for letting me know that such a list already exists. Nice work.