East London Indie Cafes Provide Offbeat Caffeine Fix

There was a time not so long ago when London coffee was something to bemoan. As Starbucks and Costa’s began to dominate the high street, the British foretold of a future of identikit corporate café chains pushing out any hope of an independent coffee culture. Soon the only hope of a real espresso would be to fly to Italy. But somehow it didn’t happen. The naysayers were proved wrong, or perhaps some of them got up and did something about it, and now the city is booming with specialist independent coffee shops, notably in Hackney.


Of course, it is part of this rediscovered appreciation for the small scale, handcrafted and high quality across every category from fashion to food. Monmouth Coffee paved the way, followed by Square Mile, and such was the demand for this superior brew that the best British restaurants began to boast of stocking their coffee. Soho’s Flat White soon had people queuing around the block, one of the first to import Antipodean coffee culture, and a dedicated core of coffee fanatics grew.


Now the term barista is part of our vocabulary, with the status of sommelier or chef – someone with unique expertise in caffeinating the country. Talk of water hardness, provenance, timing and a whole host of variables that most of us know nothing about are discussed in cuppings and festivals around the city. What is widely acknowledged however, is that this is now a city for coffee lovers like never before. 



This Hackney café may seem out of the way, but perhaps that is what has made it consistently deliver from the excellent menu of seasonal international food to the Square Mile coffee. They source produce as locally as possible, with meat from...  Read More



Ever since the Haggerston Railway station opened, this corner of Hackney has blossomed with restaurants such as Duke's Brew & Cue opening up. The Haggerston Espresso Rooms or HER as it calls itself, is now where the locals come for the...  Read More



46B Espresso Hut was the dream venture of couple Eva and Dominic, a Greek fashion designer and artist. Eva was a barista for eight years, and it shows. They are studious about their coffee here, and it is the best you'll find in the area hailing...  Read More



Based on Old Street roundabout, this corner coffee bar is a saving grace for many in the area. The cinema-style sign out front often lightens up the morning commute with some innuendo or other on display, enticing many in to refuel. Don't let...  Read More



The queues around the block testify to the quality of the coffee here. Started by a pair of Aussie brothers, they wanted to bring much-needed decent coffee to London, and in that they succeeded. They use Union Hand Roasted beans, one of the best...  Read More



This Antipodean café and roastery is in that typical stripped-back Shoreditch style with exposed brickwork and weathered tables, packed full of Old Street office workers. It's comfy too though, with booths to shimmy into, pot plants and big...  Read More



Broadway market is bursting with cafes, but Climpson & Sons is widely acknowledged as one of the greats. Restaurants around the neighbourhood will boast of stocking Climpson coffee. This is where 'hipster Hackney' come for their coffee, and...  Read More



Headed up by former World Barista champion Gwilym Davies, this is the mecca for coffee nerds from around the globe. The spacious, bright and bustling Leather Lane café is also home to the London Barista Resource and Training Centre with tons of...  Read More



The city's leading micro-roastery, Londoners can discuss the merits of Nude coffee at length. Roasted around the corner from the Brick Lane café, they personally source their beans from around the globe, with an eye for quality that hasn't...  Read More



They select the highest-grade Arabica beans, use innovative roasting techniques and train up their baristas to expert level; that's the philosophy they bring to all their roastery cafés in Australia and New Zealand, and now London. Located on...  Read More


Meet Tyler Wetherall

Tyler Wetherall is a freelance writer specialising in travel, food & drink, covering topics as varied as narcs in the Colombian jungle to cocktail drinking in Cuba. Tyler has lived in London...  More About Tyler