2015 continued the trend of explosive growth for London’s independent coffee scene. Reflecting on another year of caffeinated exploration, here are eight openings which in my opinion stood out (in no particular order):
The Penny: Unless you were looking for it or happened to glance at the small chalkboard outside, odds are you would have waked straight past the Penny. Tucked in the basement of the much less conspicuous Old Vic Theatre in Waterloo, is the theatre’s newly refurbished café. Designed by the same teams behind M1lk and Fields Café, the Penny provides spacious seating in a minimalist but homely environment. The Penny is part of a wider trend of public institutions retrofitting their outlets to account for the growth of specialty coffee. The coffee is from Workshop with a selection of lunch and dinner options.
Address: The Old Vic, London SE1 8NB
Opening Hours: Monday–Wednesday 8am–1am, Thursday - Friday 8am–2am Saturday 10am–2am
The Coffee Traveller: One of London’s best success stories is behind this wonderful new opening in Chiswick. Neil Vanstone has been diligently serving great coffee from a refurbished truck at Brentford Market for over 2 years. Now he finally has a permanent fixture. Like Bogota Coffee in Milton Keynes, Neil has rejected the stereotypical minimalist design, and gone for a café with Central American inspirations. The centerpiece has to be the purpose-built shack in the center of the store with a service counter at the front and a brew bar at the back. The coffee is from Caravan with a range of brew options available, including syphon. Possibly one of the most underrated and best cafes in London at the moment.
Address: 58 Thames Rd, London W4 3RE
Opening Hours: Monday–Friday 8am-4.30pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am – 4pm
Association Coffee: The second Association Coffee outside the City Thameslink simply opened one day with little fanfare. In fact, Association hasn’t even updated its website or social media with its address, all that confirms its existence is five tweets from a twitter account. Association’s new shop is beautiful with a long counter that sports possibly the biggest concentration of specialty coffee tech in London with not one, but two black eagle espresso machines. Association offers a range of rotating guest filters, when I visited they had at least three on offer. For anyone who’s passionate about coffee, Association is definitely worth a visit.
Address: 56 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7HX
Espresso by K2: Espresso by K2 opened in October in an area notoriously sparse in specialty coffee. Located just off Parsons Green, K2 is a wonderful little antipodean café collocated within a tech recruitment agency serving coffee from the Roasting Party. It’s a one-man band set up with owner and barista Ricky who’s undoubtedly passionate about coffee. The high rise ceiling, open space, large marble counter and lighting all contribute to the atmosphere of this expertly designed compact café.
Address: 5 Heathman's Rd, London SW6
Opening Hours: Monday–Friday 8am-5.30pm, Saturday 9.00am-4.30pm
China Plate Espresso: One of the most exciting initiatives of 2015 was the arrival of Assembly, a collective of some of the leading figures in London’s coffee scene. If Assembly had a flagship café, it would be the newly opened China Plate Espresso in Stoke Newington High Street. Self-described as “fourth-wave,” China Plate Espresso, places a huge focus on the quality of its coffee, serving a range of single origin coffees from a rotating guest roaster as well as Assembly roasted coffee and coffee from Dark Arts in Hackney.
Address: 155 Stoke Newington High St, London N16
Opening Hours: Monday–Friday 8am-5.00pm, Saturday-Sunday 9.00am-6.00pm
Dandy Cafe: Dandy Cafe is the latest opening in this list, tucked between industrial units in London Fields within a refurbished shipping container. All parts of its design reinforce its ambition to be communal, warm and homely. It places emphasis on simple food with high quality ingredients. You won’t find any complicated menu items here. The coffee is from Square Mile with a rotating guest roaster and complimented by a great selection of natural wines and craft beers. I must admit, I had the best dish of my life at Dandy Café which was simply described as “creamed corn and poached egg.” I fully intend to visit it as often as I can before the queues begin to form.
Address: 9-15 Helmsley Pl, London E8 3SB
Opening Hours: Wed-Friday 8.00am-11.00pm, Saturday 10.00am-11.00pm, Sunday 10.00am-9.00pm
Origin Coffee: Cornwall-based roasters Origin had already built a reputation for the quality of their coffee. That’s why many in the specialty coffee scene were excited when they announced plans to expand in the capital, finally opening their flagship store in May. Located on Charlotte Road, it serves as both a coffee shop and a base for their growing wholesale operations in London (Origin recently began supplying the Soho House group). Their shop is beautiful and expertly designed with a lovely little brew bar showcasing a rotating selection of coffees.
Address: 65 Charlotte Rd, London EC2A 3PE
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 7.30am-6.00pm, Saturday 9.00am-5.00pm, Sunday 10.00am-6.00pm
Allpress Dalston: Allpress are one of the giants of the London coffee scene, distributing their beans to over 180 coffee shops in the UK. Their second site, a delicately and beautiful refurbished joiner’s factory in Dalston, was the product of years of planning. The ground floor is split into two. One side taken by a custom-built hot air 70kg roaster, the ART MK3. The other by a coffee counter, café and open plan kitchen. It is breath-taking. I only have praise for Allpress, both for their coffee and for the service they provide to the cafes they source to. If there was to be one opening that defined the 2015, Allpress Dalston would be it.
Address: 55 Dalston Ln, London E8 2NG
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 7.30am-5.00pm, Saturday-Sunday 9.00am-5.00pm, Sunday