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A reader’s guide to coffee in London

Ten best cafes for reading in London

If you like coffee and/or reading, it is inadvisable to go to a Starbucks, ever. There is not much for West London here, feel free to make suggestions. As long as they are not places like Daylsford Organic or Baker & Spice please, white marble and biscuits for £7 doesn’t seem that fair. 

For the coffee: Flat White

This is Jim’s favourite location for our weekend meetings, however Tom has had trouble getting out of bed for these of late, so it is fair game. The people working here are very good at their jobs. The food is affordable and delicious. It has quiet corners and long opening hours. And now the weather is showing its true natures, the tourists will thin out. The brownies will kill you with pleasure.

17 Berwick Street, Soho

For cake as well as exceptional books: London Review Bookshop

The LRB bookshop has one of the largest poetry sections in the city, an excellent evening events programme and a café next door for a seat on one of London’s quieter side streets. Surprising given it is right next to the British Museum. It is two doors down from a really good stamp shop, if you are interested in customised stationery (and an occult bookshop if you are into other things). If not, at least go out of morbid curiosity:

14 Bury Place

Not for those who only like normal tea: Prufrock

I got an old-fashioned look on questioning their Himalyan something tea, and it was very good. But the coffee is the point. Also their excellent brownies. The only downside is people who work in advertising go for offsite meetings in there, but they tend to have mostly gone to work by 3pm so the afternoon can be yours, and the weekends are more peaceful still. 

23-25 Leather Lane

For brunch and coffee: Workshop Coffee Company

This is a large and beautiful establishment in Clerkenwell, and is a decent pocket of quiet in central London at any time. They deliberately do not have Wi-Fi in order to eliminate laptops, which I initially found annoying and now respect deeply. 

27 Clerkenwell Road

For those who cycle: Look mum no hands!

Read your book while they mend your bike, and consume as much as you can while you wait. People who know about bikes also seem to like reading – they encourage it here by providing small tables spaced far apart – providing respite from the uncomfortable interaction between people who like sport and people who prefer reading. Also their walnut cake is famous.

49 Old Street

For the quiet, and the toasted sandwiches: Café Bliss

I used to go here every weekend. It is always serene. And there are exhibitions by local artists on the walls.

9 Dalston Lane

For the location, and the exhibitions: Store Street Espresso

Great coffee, large selection of food, frequent private views of art and a very generous loyalty card system.

40 Store Street

For coffee turning into a meal: Brunswick House

This restaurant in the LASSCO building is famed for its delicious menu, which deserves every syllable of hype. However it is also a delightful place to spend an afternoon, especially in the outside area on a clear day.

30 Wandsworth Road

For buying second hand books: Rustique

There is not enough recognition of North London in this list, sure this would change if the Editors got to spend more time there, but this place is an ideal place for spending the afternoon and picking up some new books after a few cups of coffee.

142 Fortress Road

Surprise entry: A Caffe Nero

The coffee here is the best of the chains, and this particular branch has the quietest downstairs room I have seen on the weekend. Two stoic readers sitting 18 feet apart. Ideal. 

36A St. Martin’s Lane

The Editors

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