Must-See Coffee Shops in the United Kingdom (London & Edinburgh)
We just got back from our Northern Europe adventure, where we saw countless beautiful and historically rich places, and visited around 25 to 30 coffee shops! We had previously researched and planned to check out a few well-esteemed ones, but most of them (as there were too many coffee shops to see), we decided to find through locals and barista recommendations. As we are continuing our research for our future shop, we are looking to be inspired by more than just good coffee (that’s a given), but a good coffee experience. This includes the atmosphere, presentation, quality of the drink, and customer service received.
Thus here are some independent coffee shops that made an impression where we were in the United Kingdom: London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. If you’re looking for great coffee shops in Edinburgh and London, do check these places out and tell us what you think!
Top Coffee Shops in London
Kaffeine opened up a couple years ago with the idea to provide an Australian style café focusing on excellent coffee, great food and hospitable service, and is now regarded as one of the leading cafes in London’s speciality coffee scene. They pride themselves on professional coffee, as their baristas have at least three years experience, and I definitely could tell. My latte was perfect in taste, smoothness and richness. For being a high-quality artisan shop, Kaffeine’s atmosphere and barista’s are classy but also friendly and down to earth, which is important to me. You can enjoy a specialized cup of coffee in a comforting atmosphere, and on an ending note, I’m a big fan of the delicious homemade jams on the table to enjoy with scones and sweets. I couldn’t stop eating the redcurrant jam!
Here we also tasted our first cascara, which is slowly gaining popularity in the coffee industry: the dried shell of the coffee cherry brewed in water. This introduced us to wanting cascara drinks in our shop, and we’re been more inspired as we see the variety of drinks and blends other shops are making using the fruit. It’s where coffee meets tea, yet being own thing: fragrant and floral, full and rounded, clean and cleansing the palette.
2. Prufrock Coffee
There’s something abut Prufrock… but I don’t know what. I wasn’t a big fan of the decor or the flat, open layout, and it was a bit cluttered and busy with people and coffee equipment. But somehow this combination of things added to the impression that it’s an alive, happening place, where they are overflowing their coffee passion into their experimentation and courses educating people about the art of coffee, various brewing techniques, roaster relationships and what goes into a delicious cup of specialized coffee. It’s apparent their emphasis is on developing this craft, and I appreciate that, as well as the flairs of creativity in their cups and artwork.
This highly rated coffee shop not only had great artisan coffee roasted by the esteemed Tim Wendelboe (Oslo), but was served professionally by their very friendly and knowledgeable baristas. Their brand and menu is simple and classy, and highlights the quality of the coffee craft. They pride themselves on sourcing, roasting and serving coffee at a higher standard, from the drink they serve their customers to their ethical relationships with their farmers that emphasizes integrated and quality development throughout every stage of the process. It was great to hear all about this process in seeing the passion they had for the art of coffee and educating others about what goes on behind the cup.
4. Tap Coffee
Tap Coffee is hip and popular, packed out with young adults. The style almost had a minimal, rustic, greenhouse feel, with the sun streaming in the back room and open shutters letting in a cool breeze. It’s a laid-back place to socialize, and I love their little rustic details found in the lighting, art, design and details. For the first time, I tried an affogato: delicious strong, bold espresso served over creamy and sweet vanilla ice cream. It was quite a treat! I’ve wanted to try one for a while because I had in mind to have it at our shop, and now I’m quite sold on it.
Ok, we’re ending with tea (sorry not sorry). This is a place for tea-lovers, where it’s all about yum-chaa (cha means tea), and less about frilly hats and breaking your billfold (although that’s an experience to have too)! I love tea that is served right: loose-leaf and minus the bag (#freeyourtea). I also love being able to smell my teas before I decide (and I took a good five minutes to do so because they smelled amazing!), before settling for a “berry berry nice” rooibos. It was perfect to enjoy this casual-tea experience with great friends in the London sunshine overlooking the Campden Town marketplace!
Top Coffee Shops in Edinburgh
Edinburgh, as well as many other places throughout our trip, has tons of cafes that also have an extensive menu and wait service. The speciality coffee industry is just now growing in the city, and Brew Lab is actually one of the first here that focuses on the craft of the coffee (like shops in Denver and Portland already do). So although we didn’t find too many specialty coffee shops here, we really did LOVE these two:
6. Brew Lab, Edinburgh
Brew Lab was one of my favorite coffee shops for it’s flawless marketing and passion in coffee. Founded by two university graduates, they first took four years of planning, research, and development before opening, and it shows. Their brand is strong and consistent down to the detail, claiming precision and creative expertise in each cup. The periodic table menu, food displayed on clipboards, coffee served on slates, and their iconic logo, music and decor adds to the atmosphere. Quality is then proven in the coffee’s rich taste brewed in a variety of methods. Near a college university, BL is Edinburgh’s leading artisan coffee bar where quality coffee is guaranteed, but is also a cozy place to socialize and study. I am so inspired by their intentional and well-thought out brand and identity that is in the least intelligent, academic, methodical, and creatively scientific.
7. The Elephant House, Edinburgh
Made famous by J.K. Rowling, who wrote her early novels here, The Elephant House is a cozy cafe with great food, tea, and coffee. Harry Potter fans will also love the bathrooms crawling with quotes and HP love, and elephant lovers will share in the owner’s passion for the majestic creatures as evident in the shop’s decor. The warm colors, sunlit rooms, and the beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle make it a great place spend a few hours here.
The journey continues– stay tuned for the coffee shops we visited and loved in Scandinavian coffee capitals Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo!