In the first thought, London is associated with tea culture, but this city is one of the world’s earliest coffee cities. Even before Britain was considered a tea nation, in 1653 the first coffee house opened. A wave of coffee enthusiasm sloshed through the streets of the city. The first teahouses found a place in the cityscape years later, 1750. Because of the later reduction of the tea tax tea became an affordable drink some time after that – and replaced the prevailing coffee trend. The fact that women also had access to tea gardens and houses (but not in the coffee houses) is certainly another reason for the eventual implementation of the tea culture.
Fortunately today every gender is allowed to stay in the many cafés that I present to you in the next London articles. And even when the new coffee culture of specialty coffees is different to the coffee taste of the late 17th century, the city is still very exciting due to the topic of coffee: compared to the number of cafés with specialty coffee per city in Europe London is at the top.
Also some travel tips for restaurants and shops await you in the following series of London articles, but the topic of coffee is nearly always in the front. Enjoy!
There are cafés that impress with lovely details, exciting design and special light situations. And then there are those who simply “only” serve coffee at an incredibly high level. Prufrock is one of the latter – and incidentally also has a menu with many delicacies: Whether the bread with avocado and poached egg, or with cream cheese and peas OR sweets in the form of croissants, banana bread and chocolate brownies. But above all because of the excellent coffee, this cafe has made a name in the city.
Prufrock was founded in 2011. There is a coffee bar in the center of the inconspicuous café. It is divided into the two preparation methods filter coffee and esspreso drinks. At the counter for filter coffee are some of the many seats of the store. These are perfect for curious coffee lovers. From there you can wonderfully observe the fate of Baristi. Their hand grips are very accurate, you can even taste that. The coffee is used here by changing European roasters. In addition Prufrock permanently serve coffee from the renowned London roastery Square Mile.
As co-founder behind Square Mile is one of the most important figures in the specialty coffee scene: James Hoffmann. His book “The World Altas of Coffee” (in German “Der Kaffeeatlas”) is part of several coffee shop shelves – and for many protagonists of the scene it was the introductory book.
Although not from the beginning, but for some time Square Mile is also co-owner of Prufrock. The Café was founded by Gwilym Davies (Barista World Champion in 2009), the baker Klaus Kuhnke and the Australian Jeremy Challender. Jeremy left Prufrock in 2017 to go back to Melbourne. Since that, the Square Mile roastery completes the trio.
Prufrock is located on the market lane Leather Lan. Just as inconspicuous as the shop with its white wooden facade and large windows is, incidentally, the staircase that connects the upper part of the café with the basement. It leads to the area where regular barista classes, tastings and other coffee events take place. So Prufrock is much more than “just” a place where excellent coffee is served.
23-25 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7TE
Within walking distance of the Museum of Modern Art (the Tate Modern), Caravan Bankside fills the ground floor of an old factory. In chic industrial surroundings you can ar here all day long, whether for brunch or dinner. Behind the store is a combination of restaurant and coffee roasting, so coffee plays an important role too. In general, I had the impression of London that they understand how nice the combination of specialty coffee and delicious food is. Gourmets will definitely feel comfortable at Caravan Bankside.
Large windows throw light into the wide room with its gray concrete walls and wooden furniture. The Bankside Restaurant is one of five locations that belong to Caravan – including its own coffee roastery. Each place has its own individual concept and the three New Zealand founders love to talk about a “family” rather than a “chain”.
Beside to Cancan Bankside there is a shop on Exmouth Market (it was the first), followed in 2012 by the second Caravan at King’s Cross. In Caravan City they opened the newest restaurant. A fifth store, in Great Portland Street, is currently under construction.
30 Great Guildford St
London SE1 0H
Rosslyn is part of a corner building at Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street. The cafe is one of the youngest children of the London specialty coffee scene. It opened in February 2018. Founders are James Hennebry and Mat Russell, both have previously worked many years in Australia and the UK for various coffee roasters. Incidentally, they got to know each other during their work in the team of the previous tip, Caravan.
The café used to be a suits shop. Today suits here are only visible wearing from the guests from the surrounding offices. After months of renovation, a large counter with coffee tasting determines the happening in the store. There are a few seats on the windows, but overall, Rosslyn is more reminiscent of the concept of “Standing Room Only,” which I also know from Patricia in Melbourne.
Coffees from the British Roasterys Round Hill, Colonna Coffee and Modern Standard Coffee are served here permanently. The program is complemented by a wide-ranging, changing guest program, including Scandinavian Roasterys such as La Cabra.
78 Queen Victoria Street
London EC4N 4SJ
The last two tips are part of the picturesque backyard Neal’s Yard. It can only be reached through narrow alleyways and is shaped by the alternative culture that found its place here in the 1980s. Previously, the warehouses of the backyard provided space for the flowers of the Covent Garden Market, a market, which still take place today (in a modified form) a few streets further.
The 26 Grains is a Mecca for all porridge fans in London. Alex Hely-Hutchinson is the founder of it. She lived for one year while studying in Copenhagen. Inspired by the porridge treat celebrated there, she returned to London and opened the café in 2015.
The number 26 stands for the number of grains with which Alex cooks. In addition to oats, it also includes quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. Alex and her team conjure daily dishes such as quinoa porridge with cinnamon and banana, nordic pear porridge with oats in coconut milk, cocoa crumbs, Greek yogurt and rhubarb-cardamom granola or savory, for example in the form of black quinoa with turmeric hummus salad.
Alex has also published a book with her recipes. It has the same name as the café. So you can also cook the versatile dishes of 26 Grains at home.
1 Neal’s Yard
London WC2H 9DP
Directly across from 26 Grains you can find the small coffee shop Jacob The Angel. It is dedicated to a man named Jacob, who is said to have opened the very first coffee shop in England. Just ten people fit into the room of this café. A few more can seat at the two tables outside. Here every morning the cakes and pastries are freshly prepared and baked. Sandwiches and more are also offered for take-away. As coffee Square Mile is in the grinder.
During a trip to London you should probably visit the Neal’s Yard twice – once for 26 Grains and the other time for Jacob the Angel …
16A Neal’s Yard
London WC2H 9DP