I have been working as freelancer for nearly five years and so I am used to carrying my laptop with me all the time and working from pretty much anywhere. Coffee shops are my favourite places to be in and work from, but finding the perfect working spot isn’t as easy as you’d imagine. Here’s my guide to the top coffee shops to work in London.
As a freelance food and travel writer, I have learnt to work from pretty much anywhere: a café, a public library, a hotel room, a train, an airport lounge, you name it. I have not, however, mastered the art of getting work done at home. No matter how hard I try to focus while sitting at my dining table, I still find it incredibly dull, isolating, distracting and ultimately unproductive.
In an ideal world, I would get a membership to a dreamy co-working space, but let’s be realistic: freelancers can hardly afford an office space in central London. That’s why the vast majority of remote workers choose to work from coffee shops every day, at the small price of a flat white.
Having spent many hours working from London coffee shops, I know what to look out for: reliable Wi-Fi, comfortable seats, ample plug sockets, a great playlist, friendly staff and – last, but certainly not least – exceptional coffee.
Top 8 Coffee Shops to Work in London
This Leather Lane coffee shop and barista training space, opened by former World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies and co-owned with Square Mile. Prufrock is a mecca for coffee enthusiasts not only in London, but coming from all over the world. Judging by the number of people you’ll find sitting at the tables with their laptops and headphones on, at any time of the day, it is also a fab spot for getting good work done. You can read a more in depth post about Prufrock here.
2. Hubbard & Bell at The Hoxton
The lobby at The Hoxton hotel in Holborn has the style and vibe of a trendy co-working space, except it is completely free for anyone to use. There are large tables and comfy sofas to share, a buzzing atmosphere, great food prepared by on-site restaurant Hubbard & Bell. Coffee (roasted by Origin) and cocktails are available all around the clock.
3. Ozone Coffee Roasters
Ozone Coffee, a roastery and coffee bar in Shoreditch (with a second café and eatery in Emma Street, Hackney), has been at the forefront of London’s speciality coffee scene since opening in 2012. You won’t find a better spot for working on your start-up brand strategy or latest blog post than the long wooden counter overlooking Leonard Street. Ozone is deservedly popular, so get there early or be prepared to wait. You can read a more in depth post about Ozone Coffee here.
4. Tab x Tab
Tab x Tab is an independent coffee shop in Westbourne Grove and also one of the best you will find in London. Alongside speciality coffee from Ozone Coffee (roasted in London) and Bocca (roasted in Amsterdam ), Tab x Tab serves delicious pastries and an all day menu of breakfast dishes such as avocado on toast with coriander, almond milk, cashew and lime dressing. I love their great attention to quality and to making the space as welcoming as possible for their loyal customers. It’s the kind of neighbourhood café would want to have at their doorsteps!
You can read a more in depth article I have written about Tab x Tab here.
5. Caravan Coffee
Caravan is a London-born restaurant group and brand of speciality coffee. Some of the capital’s top baristas and roasters started their careers at Caravan coffee shops. There are five cafés & restaurants around London, easily recognised by their beautiful industrial chic interiors. I love the Granary Square, Kings Cross space (which formerly housed the roastery), the coffee bar in Fitzrovia and their newer café in Bloomberg Arcade, Bank.
6. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs
From one small Aussie café, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs has turned into one of the biggest speciality coffee chains in London. I like their original store in Leather Lane, but for working remotely the new space in Canary Wharf (Westferry Circus) is even better: freelancer-friendly, yet never too packed. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs currently has 14 coffee shops in London (with 2 more opening soon) and more around the UK, so the choice is endless.
7. The Nickel Bar at The Ned
You don’t need to be a Soho House member to access The Ned, a five star hotel and members’ club in the City with ten restaurants spread over eleven floors. Most of the restaurants are in the lobby, which is open to the public. It’s worth going to The Ned just to see the historic 3,000 sqm hall, formerly the Grand Banking Hall of Midland Bank. There are a couple of casual cafés on the ground floor, such as Malibu Kitchen and Café Sou, but I like to seat at one of The Nickel Bar. Sit down by the bandstand, order a flat white (with beans roasted by Origin) and get your work done for the next couple of hours.
8. Origin Coffee Scoresby Street
Origin Coffee in Scoresby Street is one of four London outposts of the popular Cornish roastery. Housed in a railway arch near Southwark station, this airy and bright coffee shop is one of my favourite places to work from. The café is spacious, bright and airy thanks to the high arched ceiling; it gets busy around lunch time but it’s generally easy to find a free table to sit at. Origin Coffee offer a great selection of direct trade single origin coffees and their tasty breakfast dishes are served all day long.
9. Timberyard Seven Dials
Timberyard Seven Dials is one of the best café for out of office workers in London. It was designed as a space to be lived by freelancers and it comes with a boardroom, media room and events space. It’s the perfect environment for creative people to come together. Timberyard was founded in 2012 and is now part of the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs group (they serve their coffee beans). Your food needs are taken care of with tasty cookies, cakes and sandwiches from local suppliers. The only downside is that it is usually packed.
10. Workshop Coffee at The Pilgrm Hotel
I am a big fan of Workshop Coffee, one of the top coffee roasters in UK with four cafés across central London (Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Old Street and Paddington). Their latest outpost is located inside boutique hotel The Pilgrm. There are a few small tables by the bar and more upstairs in the Lounge area. The espresso and filter coffee is from Workshop’s seasonal range roasted in Bethnal Green. The baked goods are supplied by Yeast Bakery and Fortitude Bakehouse.
11. Kiss The Hippo
Perfect if you live in or near the TW9, Kiss The Hippo is one of the best coffee shops and roasters in UK and well worth paying a visit to. The café spreads over two floors, but upstairs is more quiet and preferred by freelancers. The excellent coffee is roasted on site by Kiss The Hippo’s talented team (Wholesale Manager Paul Ross achieved the top-spot as the UK Barista Champion in 2019 while Head of Coffee Joshua Tarlo arrived second). An all-day menu by head chef Jenny Parker ranges from pastries and cakes baked in-house to fresh salads and hot breakfast dishes. In November 2019, Kiss The Hippo opened a second café in Fitzrovia, central London. I have written more about it here.
12. JOLT Coffee
Jolt Coffee is the new kid on the block in London coffee scene having opened in Fitzrovia just a few months ago. I have only been there once to try the coffee, but I thought the space was perfect for sitting with the laptop (the wifi is free and works pretty fast too) and get some work done! Alongside classic espresso drinks and pour overs, they have an extensive menu of flavoured iced lattes, all made with beans roasted by Nude in east London.
Disclaimer: a shorter version of this guide originally appeared in print in The London Coffee Festival magazine.