Monday, 2 January 2012

My Top 3 Cafes of 2011

Firstly, apologies for my blogging slackness in the last months of 2011 - one of my New Year's resolutions is regular blog updating.  This post should really have come a few days ago but before embarking in 2012 I just wanted to give a shout out to my top 3 cafes of 2011.  It's always a tough one because I love them all really - I am just so stoked at how amazing the London coffee scene is these days.  For those of you like me that have been here for over a decade, just cast your mind back to the coffee wasteland that was London post Millennium. Groups of desperate, hollow-eyed Antipodeans would huddle round an espresso at Bar Italia in Frith St, dreaming (in my case) of places like Mario's in Brunswick St in Melbourne and wondering if tea could be a good substitute.  Fast forward a decade and things were completely different and now going into 2012 we are almost spoilt for choice and what a great problem that is to have.  So I suppose what I'm saying is, if you're not one of my top 3 for 2011 it's not because I don't think you're awesome, it's just because there are so many great places now that you can actually single out 3 amazing cafes and by doing so leave out another 10 just as amazing ones.  Anyway, here they are, my Top 3 in 2011 - based on quality of coffee (of course - for me, this is most often a flat white) but importantly also the vibe, the friendliness and the overall feeling I get when I sit in.  The reason some of my old favourites have slipped off this list is the latter considerations - whilst the coffee quality remains high, I have felt less welcome in some of these places, as they become more popular the service slips (I suppose inevitably) and in a few cases, a smidgen of attitude creeps in.  Anyway not at these places:

  • Nude Espresso - Soho Square W1.  Given its proximity to where I work, this has become my go to cafe and as well as top notch flat whites, I just love the vibe here.  So friendly and so laid back - I often wish I could just spend the morning hanging out in Nude, Soho Square, shooting the breeze.  Plus their beans are our home brewing coffee of choice right now.
  • Speakeasy - Lowndes Court, W1.  The streets off and parallel to Carnaby St are much cooler than Carnaby St itself and the arrival of Speakeasy on tiny Lowndes Court backs up that assertion.  Small but perfectly formed, this is a really great addition to the London coffee scene.  Sister cafe to the wonderful Department of Coffee & Social Affairs in Leather Lane, these guys make great flat whites using Coffeesmiths beans.  Still haven't visited the Brew Bar downstairs but plan to do that early in the new year!
  • Birdhouse - St John's Hill SW11.  Anyone who lives in SW London will appreciate the joy at a new cafe serving good coffee (those spoilt brats in East London have had it all their way for too long).  Still buzzing from the news that Brewed Boy would be located at the lovely Ben's Canteen, I couldn't believe the news that another coffee destination would be opening on the same street.  Owned and run by two top fellas, Cameron & Alexei, as well as serving top notch flat whites (Climpsons beans) this has to be the best fit out of 2011.  I just love the way this place looks - every time I go I see something else to make me smile.  This cafe would be great anywhere in London but the fact it is my neck of the woods makes it even better!


  1. Hello! Came across your blog while googling the Flat Cap Coffee cart in Victoria. Great read, really enjoy your stuff and have found some new cafes to try, always a bonus. Cheers.

  2. Thanks Flora - Flat Cap is great isn't it? If you like them - make sure you try Notes also.

  3. Just tried Birdhouse on the weekend and it was fantastic. My husband went as far to say it was one of the best coffees he's had in London and for 2 Aussies who've been in Europe for 6-7 years, that's saying something. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Excellent Jess! So glad you liked it - I think it's a total winner.