Special Six: London Cafés

I enjoy trying out cafés. I love it when I find a small independent café that does not only serve great coffee with baked treats, or great brunches, but also has wonderful ambience and customer service. When it comes to London, like many cities around the world, one is spoiled for choice. The below six are my favourites from the ones I tried out several times during my wanderings.

  • Ground Control Café:

I was walking along Amwell Street one lovely Spring morning, when I came across this little gem of a coffee shop. Conveniently located to where I lived then, Ground Control in Islington serves great Ethiopian coffee and delicious baked treats. Bustling with a constant flow of customers mostly from the neighbourhood coming in for coffee to go, the more I visited the place, the more I felt a sense of community around the coffee shop and the street. The café soon became my favourite coffee place in London. As exam time approached and I avoided the packed university library, I found it easier to do my reading here. The staff was friendly and welcoming of my spending a few hours there each morning, studying at my little corner at the window, taking short breaks for boosts of coffee and a cardamom brownie or almond croissant or a lunch of toasties and a little chat. When I had to move to another neighbourhood for the summer break, this was the place that I missed the most in Angel.


Photo credit: Bex@Double Skinny Macchiato

  • FreeState Coffee:

When I came across this coffee place on Southampton Row, I immediately liked the decor of the cafe and of course, the coffee. I was introduced to the V60 drip and piccolo here. As FreeState was conveniently located near Holborn, this was the place that I usually suggested for meeting with friends and acquaintances. I also came here to catch up on my reading sometimes.


Photo credit: Fatma Al-Baiti@Fatma vs Food

  • Counter Cafe

One of my friends, Fatma, enjoys exploring and reviewing restaurants and cafes. She found this cafe in Hackney Wick and organized a brunch meet up here one weekend. It took me nearly an hour, and a change of two buses, to travel to this place and when I saw what looked like a warehouse at the end of an empty street, I wondered why anyone would want to travel so far to have a sunday morning brunch here. I tried their food and felt that it was the best brunch I had in a long while. Despite the distance, their food alone pulled me back a couple of times before I left London. The canal side cafe and roastery, with views of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, shares building space with an art gallery and workshop.


Photo credit: Fatma Al-Baiti@Fatma vs Food

  • FoxCroft & Ginger

Cruffins were what drew me to this cafe in Soho. As I had never tried them before and an online article mentioned that their cruffins sold out each morning very quickly, I had to try them out. The cruffins were delicious but I also found that they had a delicious brunch and lunch menu, which included a delicious kimchi burger.


Photo credit: Jinghua Zhang

  • Bagariet

Bagariet in Covent garden is actually a bakery with a tiny seating area, where you can enjoy fika, with a cup of Swedish coffee and baked treat. Ever since I was introduced to kanelbullar in Stockholm back in 2000, I am quite fussy about cinnamon buns matching the Swedish taste. So, I was delighted to find this little bakery hidden away in Rose street.

Photo credit: Fatma Al-Baiti@Fatma vs Food
  • Dishoom

I had read great reviews about this place and so, one day, some friends and I decided to try the one in Covent Garden. The cafe, styled on the Irani cafes of Bombay,  is a visual treat with old photos from Bombay crowding the walls. They also serve tasty food and great spicy chai. It is an all-day cafe/ restaurant, with a few branches around the city, and which gets crowded in the evenings so best to make a reservation in advance.


Photo credit: Fatma Al-Baiti@Fatma vs Food

What are your favourite cafes in London? 

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[I am linking this post to City Tripping #31 hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels]


42 thoughts on “Special Six: London Cafés

  1. These cafes sound lovely! Thanks for the ideas for the next time I’m in London 🙂 If I have time to kill while out and about in London, I’ll usually go to a Starbucks or something (terribly imaginative, I know). I’ve been to Dishoom in Shoreditch but haven’t been to the Covent Garden one. It was pretty good when I went at about 4 or 5pm on a Sunday! I imagine it gets much more crowded during conventional mealtimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is Dishoom in Covent Garden that gets crowded at dinner time. We went there around 5pm, on a weekday evening, and had to wait almost an hour to get a free table and when we left the place, we saw the long queue waiting outside. However, some of my friends went to the Shoreditch branch at different times of the day and never had to wait for a table.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Cruffins look terrific Ahila. I discovered Princi this Spring in London, a mix of bakery and pizzeria Milanese, located at Soho. It was perfect, good ambiance, the Latte was excellent and the sweet treats amazing! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I could go for a Dishoom chair right now. This post made me so nostaglic for London. I loved our adventure out to the Counter Cafe. I hope you’re enjoying lots of coffee and baked treats as you work back home, Ahila!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad this post made you remember some wonderful brunches in London, Hannah. And yes, a coffee treat is something I indulge myself with, wherever I am. Thanks. 🙂


  4. That breakfast dish in Counter Café looks delicious. I haven’t been to any of these cafes – I wonder whether that’s because I’ve always eaten too much at the hotel buffet!
    I must try a cruffin next time I visit. Thanks for sharing your suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha… I understand how you feel. I had a hard time choosing which new (for me) cafe to try out in London, as there are certainly many. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Christy!


  5. Great idea for a post! There are so many coffee and brunch places in London but quite a lot of them are quite mediocre – so thanks for sharing your top picks. I will have to check them out! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love independent cafes! I tend to spend a lot of time in them when I am at home in Toronto catching up on online work. I think supporting the local economy, and often the local food movement, is so important. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to visit some in London someday. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

    • I particularly like the atmosphere in an independent cafe, the effort that goes into personalizing it by the owners as well as the hospitality towards customers, in addition to supporting local economy.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great round-up – I’m ashamed to say I’ve only been to Dishoom, but some of these sound wonderful. I completely agree that sitting in a cafe is a great way to soak up some atmosphere but that there are far too many chains or mediocre spots as well, so I shall be seeking these out. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed the lists. Please do let me know, if you enjoyed your experience at any of these cafes, when you try them. Have a lovely sunday!


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