The Best Independent Coffee Shops in London

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caff, decaff, low-fat, non-fat..."

With Tom Hanks' coffee order ringing in our ears, we're "going to the mattresses" and averting monotonous café chains in favour of independent coffee shops. From vintage furniture stores to renovated Victorian loos, these quirky cafés prove that a shot of individuality goes a long way.

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Hackney Coffee Company

Hackney

While many a gap year student has claimed to “find themselves” when backpacking around South America, the founders of the Hackney Coffee Company found caffeine instead. As well as bringing delicious coffee to East London, the café aims to explain and educate on the origins, the journey and the story behind your silky smooth brew.

Address

503 Hackney Road E2 9ED

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The Peanut Vendor

Bow

Interiors addicts and coffee dependents should make a beeline for The Peanut Vendor in East London. This vintage-furniture shop specialises in early to late 20th-century items, ranging from lamps and shelving to chairs and desks. Wander the showroom, with speciality brew and a pastry in hand, or alternatively buy a retail bag (and some brewing equipment) from the counter to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Address

6 Gunmakers Lane E3 5GG

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Workshop Coffee, White Collar Factory Coffee Bar

Old Street

Inspired by the work of French architect and designer Jean Prouvé, this coffee shop is filled with metal countertops, a clientele armed resplendent with man buns and some great baked goods. Aptly named, this café in White Collar Factory provides a valuable and relaxed working atmosphere to professionals, with a penchant for the peculiar.

Address

1 Old Street Yard EC1Y 8AF

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Kaffeine

Fitzrovia

Situated between elegant Marylebone and bustling Fitzrovia, this Australian-inspired coffee shop is perfectly placed for a mid-shop pit stop. As popular for their flawless service and chill atmosphere as they are for their coffee, Kaffeine provides some much-needed respite in one of London's busiest areas.

Address

66 Great Titchfield Street W1W 7QJ

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Attendant

Fitzrovia

Situated in a renovated Victorian loo in the middle of Fitzrovia, this quirky café is nothing if not novel. Unique location aside, their food menu is seasonal, entirely sustainable and ethically sourced. While dining in a lavatory may leave something to be desired, Attendant’s endeavours to make permaculture the next big thing is nothing to sneeze at.

Address

27a Foley Street W1W 6DY

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Browns of Brockley

Brockley

A local favourite and great for a weekend unwind, Browns serves some of the best coffee in South London. Accompany your second cup of the day with a homemade sandwich or cake slice, and if your postcodes don’t match up, the company van drives around other London food markets.

Address

5 Coulgate Street Brockley SE4 2RW

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Shoreditch Grind

Shoreditch

The original Grind, Shoreditch Grind set up at Old Street roundabout in 2011. It’s open 18 hours a day, and hang around long enough and you’ll see the menu to switch from coffee to cocktails (and in the interim, pay a visit to the recording studio upstairs).

Address

213 Old Street EC1V 9NR

Federation

Brixton

Teaming up with similarly independent shops and bakeries across Brixton Village, Federation places local communities at its centre. If Federation’s sense of community hasn’t left you feeling warmer than a hot-water bottle, their grilled cheese sandwiches are sure to hit the spot.

Address

Unit 77-78 Coldharbour Lane Brixton SW9 8PS

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Prufrock Coffee

Clerkenwell

Coffee experts make daily pilgrimages to this caffeine hotspot in Clerkenwell, which is owned by two winners of the World Barista Championships. Learn from the proverbial best in the industry at the in-store barista school. For a superb but speedy coffee, grab one of their expertly brewed filter coffees or a silky-smooth flat white.

Address

23-25 Leather Lane EC1N 7TE

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Timberyard Coffee

Covent Garden

Built with creatives in mind, Timberyard provides relaxed work spaces for nomadic freelancers. Inspiring intellectual thought (cool it on the BuzzFeed quizzes for five minutes) with stimulating interiors, settling down for a productive day’s work at one of their London sites feels much closer to gaiety than to graft.

Address

TY Seven Dials 7 Upper Saint Martin's Lane WC2H 9DL

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The Watch House

Bermondsey

One for history lovers, The Watch House on Bermondsey Street pays homage to the building’s legacy as a shelter for the guards of Saint Mary Magdalene’s Church by continuing to provide a sanctuary for locals. Snuggle up by the fire in winter with a coffee and a pastry, and admire the traditional Victorian tiles, limestone-washed walls and English oak counters decorating the building’s interior.

Address

199 Bermondsey Street Bermondsey SE1 3UW

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Brickwood Coffee & Bread

Tooting

Amid the food, wine, haberdashery, crafts, vintage clothes and knick-knacks of Tooting Market, you’ll find Brickwood Coffee & Bread. Get stuck into a gargantuan Brickwood Burrito, or a sweet, toasted brioche with caramelised bananas and berry compote. Top it all off with a cup of Brickwood Blend, combining caramel body with soft, muted fruit notes.

Address

21-23 Tooting High Street Tooting SW17 0SN

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Towpath Café

De Beauvoir Town

Best suited to those with a no-frills, no-fuss mentality, this canal-side café is an ideal Sunday brunch location. Stop in for a quick cuppa or spend the day people watching and admiring the colourful boats that glide along the canal. If one brew isn't enough, pop into any number of De Beauvoir Town's neighbouring eateries; Proud East is a favourite.

Address

42 De Beauvoir Crescent N1 5SB

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