I like coffee. I like it very much, and I enjoy it very often. About a year ago, in an attempt to lower my general level of angsty stress by a couple of percentage points, I tried to stop drinking anything caffeinated. I learned:
- Decaf coffee is awful
- Decaf tea is worse
- Caffeine withdrawal symptoms last about a week and are vile
- I'm just as wound up without caffeine as I an with it
So, that was the end of that little experiment. Sadly, my current office lacks a filter coffee machine – instead we have some sort of automated thing where you type in numbers in exchange for small paper cupfulls of liquid (true story: I once spent the best part of a minute tapping in my PIN over and over and getting increasingly annoyed that nothing happened – this illustrates why coffee was needed). This means that, more often than not, I have to throw myself on the mercies of London's many coffee shops. And what have I learned? Most are really awful.
So, with that in mind I thought I'd start to compile a list of places where you can buy really, really good coffee in London. So far I've found just three that I'd recommend:
First, Flat White on Berwick Street. This is just across from my office, so I could go in there every day were it not the need to pay my mortgage each month. It's small but has a few tables and specialises in, as you'd guess, the flat white, which is I think best described as a kind of homogenised latte milkshake – strong, really rich and just delicious. Probably bad for you in the long run, certainly bad for your wallet, but brilliant. One caveat is the small cups, but then drinking one of those huge Starbucks paper cups of flat white might have dodgy side effects.
Secondly, the stupidly named Coffee@ on Brick Lane. This shop makes a fantastic latte, plays music of the type that lives on my iPod loudly all day and has big sofas of the "sink into this sofa and you will not wish to move for hours" variety. If you find yourself in Tower Hamlets, this is the place to go.
Third, Zilli Cafe on Brewer Street. Not as good as the other two, but makes a cup of coffee to take away that tastes like coffee rather than hot caffeinated bitter crud. But then again, Flat White is just around the corner.
And that's three places in a city of god knows how many coffee shops – how depressing. Will add any more I find, but if anyone has any recommendations I'd love to hear them.