COFFEE WITH CHARACTER
Let Sam Walters guide you through the best independent coffee shops London has to offer…
If a Starbucks on every corner is not your idea of The Good Life then you may be feeling somewhat jaded. Well, it’s time to turn that frown upside down because independent coffee houses are springing up everywhere and their proprietors are just bursting with the sort of pep that comes only from artisanal coffee. We have handpicked some of the best from the north, east, south and west of London so that wherever you are in The Capital you’ll be able to dose yourself up with caffeine in comfort and good taste.
Ginger and White sits in NW3, just moments from Hampstead station. It claims to be serious about coffee and boasts of blends that have a buttery almond quality, a lovely toffee sweetness and even touches of raspberry and honey. All of this is complemented by an intimate space, table service and a jazzy soundtrack. The floor is dark wood, the walls are white, the chairs and tables are pleasantly worn and to access the toilet you must squeeze past the waitress doing the washing up in the butler sink… now that’s an independent coffee shop.
Heading east to the land of the hip (that’s Shoreditch to anyone out there still riding around with gears on their bicycle) is The Bridge Coffee House. The décor is baroque: the bar from Cheers carefully hurled into the path of a charging junkshop… but that’s a good thing. Gramophones, sacks of coffee beans and vintage boxing paraphernalia create an atmosphere topped off by a blues record playing from somewhere. Resplendent are the steam-punk, shining brass coffee machines with their endless taps, pipes and valves. This place is fairly quiet until night falls and it doubles as a bar; but baklava, glistening gateaux and authentically prepared Turkish coffee (on a flame in a cezve) make it highly worthy of daytime visits.
South, just off Borough Market, is a coffee shop in which trendy mothers and conferring business sorts sit around the same large, family table spreading jam on chunks of baguette. It is called Monmouth and offers coffee from all over the world, and then some. “Citrus fruit with milk chocolate, full body and juicy acidity” is the sort of reply you can expect from these people when you ask about their filter coffee. The bare brick, distressed furniture and vintage ceiling fans then duly do their part by keeping you grounded as you delve into the depths of the bean world.
Finally in West London, Portobello Road’s Coffee Plant is a coffee shop that means business. A no-nonsense sign asking customers not to use their mobile phones whilst ordering is the price that must be paid for stepping into an establishment with over 30 types of coffee bean, all ground to order. The functional furniture continues the theme, but the entrancing music, rich aromas and paintings that hang on the walls make everything right again. Alternatively coffee can be enjoyed al-fresco, which means a ringside seat to the thrills and spills of Portobello Market.
I Love Good Beer Mag - Dec 2013