When I first starting blogging about coffee, specialty coffee shops were few and far between, often in far flung places well off the beaten path. These days, it seems like you could throw a rock in any global mega city and hit a pretty decent coffee shop. In rare form, a recent trip to London saw me mostly visit coffee shops I happened upon (rather than meticulously — one might say obsessively — researched ahead of time). But even though I found these cafés by chance, I dare say they’re worth planning a visit to next time you’re in London.
If there’s one thing about the shared economy that has us ready to return to conventional hotels, it’s the absurd hoops one has to jump through sometimes to get the key to an AirBnB. Thankfully, the mile walk between our key pick up location and apartment was home to Frequency, a new café we took a chance on. Frequency roasts their own coffee, imported by Café Imports, at the Tate Modern’s coroasting space. Their single origin Colombia, Huila espresso tasted yummy in our perfectly textured cappuccino. Easily the best coffee we’ve ever bought to get free wifi. As an added bonus, Frequency features a South American-inspired menu, including fresh empanadas.
By reputation, Macintyre Coffee was on a fairly long list I entitled “Cafés I would like to visit if I have time but I’m probably not going to have time, so best not even to look up the address.” Then serendipitously I passed Macintyre Coffee looking for an ATM because my wife and I found the only children’s bookstore in London that doesn’t accept credit cards. By some strange irony, Macintyre Coffee doesn’t accept cash, but they do brew delicious Modern Standard espresso on a Modbar. Much like the original Coffee Collective café in Copenhagen, Macintyre doesn’t have a counter between the barista and customer, creating an almost uncomfortable intimacy.
Full disclosure: I didn’t exactly happen upon Brooklyn Coffee. But I also had no plans to visit Brooklyn Coffee until I got a last minute recommendation from a trusted advisor. Serving Caravan Coffee alongside a small but thoughtful selection of craft chocolate and pastries, Brooklyn is the neighborhood espresso bar we wish was on the way to our work. The baristas know the regulars by names, and keep the espresso perfectly dialed in. Brooklyn Coffee even offers a carefully curated list of natural wines by the bottle, so rest assured that morning or evening, Brooklyn Coffee has your back.