The vape scene has developed way beyond a substitute for smoking. Today it's a world of gourmet inspired e-liquids, modifying and customising vaporisers, and even competitive cloud chasing events, where people blow huge clouds of vapour.
London has a wide variety of shops and cafes. Some of the best places to go are the independent cafe — social spots where vapers can sample new flavours, get tips on device building or simply catch up with friends.
Whether you’re a seasoned vapist or simply looking to ditch the cigarettes, here are some of the best independent places in London:
The Vape Hut, Kilburn
Ideal for those new to vaping, this café offers a range of fruity nautilus liquids to be used with starter kits and vape pens.
The Vape Hut has something of an American diner feel including a breakfast bar, colourful posters and punk rock playing. Café regulars pop in and out while the friendly staff advise on the best nicotine strength and vaporiser for your needs.
Stocking everything from faux cigarette vape-sticks to dripper builds, you can help yourself to a cappuccino while pondering your purchase.
Totally unhurried, the staff encourage customers to puff their way to the perfect flavour. They also stock several sub-ohm ranges for more powerful devices, coming in curious flavours such as cinnamon funnel cake and gummy snakes.
The Vape Hut, 331 Kilburn High Road, NW6 7QB
House of Vapes, Clapham
Standing at the top of St John’s Hill, this café offers over 150 e-liquids plus barista style coffee. A handy menu gives a run down on the different flavours, many of which have cocktail-esque names such as Atlas Nanah (mint tea) and Tenebrio (eucalyptus and absinthe.)
House of Vapes has four London locations and this one has a trendy urban style. Dark wood panels, barstools and wire mesh display cases complete the look. It stocks a great range of vape gear, and staff are happy to advise on which coils and tanks to choose. It also stocks some of the more advanced mechanical modifications and expensive premium liquids, all of which are available for tasting.
House of Vapes, 1 Brighton Buildings, St John's Hill, SW11 1RZ. See website for other locations.
London Vape Co, Camden
This vaping location boasts its own line of e-liquids and has its feet firmly in the London vape scene. The Camden branch regularly hosts cloud chasing events, has a range of branded clothing and a video-reel of vape tricks playing.
The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming, and staff member Hugh cheerily doles out advice on coil building and juice mixing. He even shows off the Tornado vape trick.
LVC’s own juices come in singular flavours such as mango, coffee and tobacco, but they also stock dessert inspired premium ranges.
Catering particularly for vape aficionados, the café sells various box mods, drip tips and even a vaporiser that looks like a wooden billiard pipe.
If the weather's good, customers can sit in the cafe's garden with an Alterra coffee.
London Vape Co, 54 Parkway Camden Town, NW1 7AH. See website for other locations.
Avant Garde E-Liquid, Fitzrovia
Based on Wells Street, this vapery exclusively sells its own range of e-liquids. These are produced locally from British ingredients, and come in flavours such as lemon meringue pie and chocolate doughnut.
There are plenty of devices on offer, all displayed in gleaming glass cases. This vape lounge is more aimed at the personal vaper; the discerning professional with a taste for fruity clouds.
This is reflected by the minimalist red and white interior, making it feel rather like a vaping Apple store.
Though more commercial than others, AGE offers the unique service of mixing customers their own bespoke e-liquid. Three flavours in your desired nicotine strength will be blended to your specifications. An especially nice touch is the company’s gilt edged glass bottles, transforming your nicotine fix into a 'magic potion'.
Avant Garde E-Liquid, 72 Wells Street, W1T 3QF
Cloud Inc Vapes, Portobello Road
This café is as selective about its Papua New Guinean coffee as it is its e-liquids. The below-stairs vape bar stocks a number of recherché brands in authentic flavours like gingerbread and fruit punch.
The brainchild of entrepreneurial couple, Amy and Brodie, the vape bar has a bohemian lounge feel, complete with plush leather sofas and coffee tables.
The café is very community-focused and sources its artisan coffee from Hackney roaster, Dark Arts Coffee.
Situated on Portobello Road, Cloud Inc Vapes offers by far the most personal service in London. One can’t help but be amazed at Brodie’s encyclopaedic knowledge of all things vape — the Portobello native tirelessly expounds upon liquids, devices and mechanical mods, even offering nightly coil building classes for £5.
Cloud Inc Vapes, 321 Portobello Road, W10 5SY
Prohibition Vapes, Shoreditch
Nestled in a Shoreditch back alley, this café is quite possibly the London vape scene’s mothership. A favourite with cloud chasers, mod-builders and trickers, the café is aimed squarely at vape enthusiasts.
All manner of build kits, coils and modding accessories are stocked, along with a number of sub-ohm devices. Staff member, Connor, tells us about the nuances of different builds while blowing a perfectly-formed plume of vape rings in our direction.
Along with several premium liquid ranges, they also have their own line of Prohibition Potions. These have speakeasy themed names such as Bathtub Gin (lime bubblegum and menthol) and Moonshine Punch (blended citrus.)
One of three locations, the café has a staunch hipster hangout vibe, with exposed brickwork, low lighting and an old piano for aspiring musicians. It also offers quality Columbian coffee from its vintage machine.
While catering for the more advanced vapists, the staff are happy to answer any question and offer advice to novices.
Prohibition Vapes, 26 Coronet St, N1 6HD. See website for other locations.