Ask most Italians where’s the best espresso in London, and you’ll more than likely be met with silence. Truth is, Italians are quite picky when it comes to their favorite brew, even more so when outside Italy.
Most Italians I spoke to agreed that the south of Italy serves up the best espresso. Rich, bold, and with no acidic aftertaste — a good Sicilian espresso will usually hit the spot.
Flat white, espresso, latte, cappuccino, you name it, they have it. That, plus a little latte artistry on top.
6 places Italians recommend — London espresso
Without stalling any further, these are the places Italians (I asked) go for their espresso fix in London.
1. The takeaway espresso
Algerian Coffee Shop, 52 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4PB
They offer over 80 coffees and 120 teas from around the world, and are continuously adding to their list.
The espresso is a no-frills experience as it comes in a basic takeaway cup. However, our friend Davide claims the coffee is ‘good quality, creamy’ and with ‘good service.’
At £1 a cup, it’s also incredibly cheap, especially for Soho.
2. The espresso in a chocolatier
Venchi, various branches around London, see the website for more details.
A visit to Venchi is double the pleasure for your palate. This chocolatier, originally from Italy, has been delighting people with its mouthwatering range of specialty chocolates since 1878.
What’s not known is that Venchi also serves up a mean cup of espresso.
Cristiana tells me that the espresso ‘is good quality coffee, creamy and not sour.’
A single espresso costs £1.90*, while a robust double will set you back £2.10*.
3. The franchise espresso — London espresso
Nude Coffee Roasters, various branches, check the website for more details.
I was slightly surprised by this recommendation, as many Italians don’t typically rave about franchise coffee shops.
Nude Coffee Roasters is originally from Australia and New Zealand, and made its London debut in 2008.
Compliments all round — London espresso
Davide (no.2) couldn’t be more complimentary: ‘The staff are really friendly, knowledgeable and have very good coffee for a small chain.’
What’s more, he says that they’re ‘really serious about coffee, as they’ve their own roasting place near Brick Lane.’
He’s right. Nude Coffee Roasters opened a roastery in 2014, which included the installation of the most eco-friendly roaster on the market.
An espresso/macchiato costs £2.40*.
SoHostel Coffee Club, 91 Dean Street, London W1D 3SY
If you go down to Soho today, you’re sure to find a good espresso surprise. What you may not know, is that there’s a little hidden gem lurking in Dean Street.
You can find SoHostel Coffee Club right next door to the popular backpacker’s favorite, SoHostel. If you’re picturing this coffee haunt as a basic, mediocre establishment, think again.
Inside is a vibrant and stylish decor, with more importantly, reasonably priced coffee.
Francesco tells me ‘there’s a barista from Salerno whose attention to detail is good, so he knows how to deliver a good product.
‘Moreover, ‘the coffee tastes smooth, dense, intense and not sour.’
A cup of espresso costs a purse-friendly £1.70*.
5. The classic espresso
Caffe Vergnano. Various branches around London, see website for more details.
Luciano Franchi opened the first branch of Caffe Vergnano in London in 2002. The Charing Cross Road branch quickly became a firm favorite with Londoners and Italians alike.
When asked why Caffe Vergnano makes a good espresso, Alessandro replied, ‘because it’s creamy, velvety and full bodied’.
Award-winning coffee — London espresso
What’s more, it has a long finish and they make the espresso using the impressive Elektra Belle Epoque machine.
If you’re curious to find out why Caffe Vergnano is an award-winning coffee shop, you’ll have to go there and find out for yourself.
A single espresso costs £2.00* and double is £2.60*.
6. The Neapolitan coffee
Caffe Napli, 31B Goodge Street, London W1T 2PP
Blink, and you might easily walk by this espresso hole in the wall in the Bloomsbury area of London. As its name suggests, Caffe Napoli originates from Naples, and serves up an excellent coffee selection.
Along with espresso, latte and the usual coffee suspects, Caffe Napoli also serve specialty drinks. Take your pick from Coffee Granita, Coffee with Nutella, or Shakerato (iced espresso).
Reasonable prices, fantastic coffee — London espresso
Prices at Caffe Napoli are also very reasonable, with a single espresso costing £1.80*. While here, you may also be tempted to try an authentic Neapolitan pastry called Sfogliatella.
Meaning small, thin leaves or layers, they’ve 2 varieties at Caffe Napoli: frolla and riccia. The former’s made from shortcrust pastry, and filled with ingredients such as ricotta cheese, semolina and candied fruits.
Riccia is the shape of the sfogliatella (in pastry form), made to resemble a stack of leaves. It has that satisfying crunch when you bite into it, and usually has a cream filling or ricotta cheese.
* prices correct at the time of writing
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