The secret to finding the best speciality coffee in London? Go straight to the source. In this city? That means tracking down the finest roasters who are quietly grinding beans in the basement to quench your caffeine needs. As you’d expect in the capital, there are some global names. There’s usually a lengthy queue for those. But, there are also some lesser known spots slinging beans from pop-up coffee bars, quiet cafes and, of course, the odd market stall here and there. We’ve sampled the brews, sipped the flat whites and lugged home bags of beans to filter out your best options.
Coleman Coffee Roasters
If you’ve chanced upon a decent cup in London, there’s a high probability the beans could have come from Coleman Coffee Roasters. But rather than try to track down the cafes they supply to, run, don’t walk, to their Waterloo station location. Here, you won’t be baffled with cold brews, secret menus or coffee jargon. These folks like to keep things simple. Espresso and filter are the order of the day – though they will dabble with a cappuccino too.
Orbzii tip: Love coffee, but can’t face the caffeine jitters? Coleman do a rather nice decaf that hits some great molasses and citrus notes.
Old Spike Roastery
Sample enough coffees on your global travels and you’ll inevitably stumble up a social enterprise using their arabica-based gains for good. The first coffee roaster in London to take on that challenge? The Old Spike Roastery. Using coffee to bring about genuine change might feel a bit heavy when you’re just breezing through for a mocha, but it’s really quite simple. 65% of profits go towards supporting this roastery’s objectives. Namely, reducing homelessness. We’d be totally onboard anyway, but the fact that the beans here are genuinely top notch makes it a win-win.
Orbzii tip: If you didn’t get a double shot of feel–good factor from the first sip, you might get a jolt of joy from Old Spike’s tree planting policy. One tree for every bag of coffee sold. These legends are caffeinated heroes.
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Long time players in the coffee grinding game, Ozone Coffee Roasters have been serving buzz-filled cups since the late 90s. And, perhaps unusually for a joint that’s been in the scene so long, things still feel pretty artisan. Yes, the menu deviates from just coffee, but don’t be distracted by the local ales and sizeable brunches. The star will always be the brews, lattes and espressos. Beans are roasted on the premises – in a traditional roaster, naturally, the decor’s strictly industrial chic and the prices are more than reasonable for London. Look them up if you’re in New Zealand. If not, thank your coffee-based stars that the owners decided to go global.
Another company that’s been pouring the black stuff for some time, Monmouth Coffee have definitely earned a spot among the best coffee roasters in London. Staff here aren’t just making brews to make ends meet. You’d definitely want to quiz them on their coffee know-how, if only the place wasn’t so busy. Yes, their footfall of one location benefits from being close to one of London’s best markets, but that’s not the sole reason people drop by in big numbers. The coffee is a big deal – and not just in London. Word has travelled, people are buying and accolades are piling up. Single origin beans are a hardly big claim, but Monmouth meet the growers, striking up relationships – alongside deals. Ever expanding, they are currently roasting in Bermondsey – where you’ll also find a tasting space. Do swing by, but expect a queue. It’s worth it.
Orbzii tip: If you really don’t want to wait for a great cuppa, swing by any of the Fernandez & Wells branches instead. The founders earned their coffee stripes at Monmouth before branching out on their own.
If you like your coffee shops to be cosy, whimsical nooks of calm, Workshop Coffee might be a little jarring. Their roasting mantra is to ‘unlock the coffee’s potential’ and their ethos drops words such as evaluate, quality control and transparent. Which all feels a smidge like you’ve gate crashed a middle manager’s annual appraisal. But, actually, it just demonstrates how seriously these roasters take their coffee responsibilities. What we’re saying here is, you’re in good hands, but don’t expect to find a comfy sofa or plush decor. Workshop’s coffee bars are for on the go types who need a precise shot of caffeine to carry them through their next 6 figure business deal. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Climpson & Sons
These East London coffee champions certainly know their way around a speciality coffee. In fact, there are few brewing methods Climpson & Sons won’t try. And, they’re not locked in to only serving single origin beans. Blends might be blasphemous for some, but here they’re celebrated. With five locations to drop in on, it’s not hard to find them in East London. We’d probably suggest you book a space at the roastery – where coffee almost gets overshadowed by the wood fired breads and the catch of the day on the grill. Though, the coffee bar at Spitalfields Market more than lends itself to those glorious days where all you need focus on are the stalls and your brew of choice.
Orbzii tip: The bar at Spitalfields isn’t just serving your standard flat whites – though it’s there if you want it. No, this is a place for high tech coffee gadgetry, expertly mixed Espresso Martinis and, should you find yourself with a non-coffee drinking companion, there’s beer available too.