There's much more to coffee than the familiar beverage we grab from coffee chains and cafés. Many countries around the world have their own particular styles of coffees and coffee-making techniques, steeped in history. Here we tell you about where you can drink coffees from around the world in London — by which we don’t mean the origin of single estate coffee beans, but varieties, traditions and rituals.
Ethiopian & Eritrean
Let's start with the birthplace of coffee. We don't know of any Ethiopian coffee bars or stalls in London (tell us if you do) but many Ethiopian restaurants offer a traditional coffee ceremony at the end of the meal. Don't miss this: it's a great way to learn about an ancient coffee culture, the different rituals involved, and the symbolism associated with these.
The quality of Ethiopian coffee ceremonies in the capital varies, so here we have highlighted the best ones. You'll learn why coffee is served with popcorn and frankincense; and how you should ward off evil spirits before taking your first sip.
This Tufnell Park restaurant is one of the longest-established and best-loved Ethiopians in the capital. It serves, somewhat unusually, single cups of traditional Ethiopian coffee; plus a great-value coffee ceremony for two.
Lalibela, 137 Fortress Road, Kentish Town, NW5 2HR
This wonderful Eritrean restaurant offers bunne — a traditional coffee ceremony, that's explained properly to those who are unfamiliar with it. Freshly roasted coffee is served in jebena and finjal (traditional coffee pots and cups), accompanied by popcorn and frankincense. There's also a small, separate lounge area to relax with a cup of coffee.
Mosob, 339 Harrow Road, W9 3RB
This family-run restaurant takes its coffee ceremony seriously, telling the story of Ethiopian coffee and its rituals.
Zeret Kitchen, 216-218 Camberwell Road, SE5 0ED
Coffee spread into Europe via the Ottoman Empire; and today variants of Turkish coffee are found in the Middle East, the Balkans and Eastern Europe. You'll find Turkish coffee in most Turkish restaurants, but there's only one place to go to for the true experience of Istanbul's coffee culture. Posing with Orhan Pamuk and Elif Şafak books is optional.
This popular Turkish brand was instrumental in creating a contemporary coffee culture in Turkey. In their buzzy Piccadilly café — hugely popular with families — it serves a variety of Turkish coffees made in traditional coffee makers.
Try Turkish coffee with mastic (a type of plant resin), and coffee with salep that's made from the roots of the orchid plant. Also on the menu are iced Turkish coffee and frozen mastic frappé. Some of the hot coffees come with chocolate-enrobed Turkish delight.
Kahve Dunyasi, Unit 3, 200 Piccadilly, W1J 9HU
Greek coffee derived from Turkish coffee, and is a variant with its own traditions and social significance. Other than Greek restaurants, several contemporary Greek delis have sprung up in the capital in recent years that offer a lovely, laid-back Greek coffee experience.
This Greek deli mini-chain, which specialises in selling imported nuts, dried fruit, chocolates and coffee, serves a couple of traditional varieties. There's single and double Greek coffee; plus freddo espresso and cappuccino — chilled versions served with ice that are a popular summertime treat in Greece. There's also Arabic coffee with cardamom and saffron, boiled over a low heat.
Carpo Piccadilly, 16 Piccadilly, W1J 0DE. There's a branch in Knightsbridge too.
The Life Goddess
This deli, breakfast and lunch specialist serves Greek coffee, cappuccino and espresso freddo, and frappé — legendary foam-covered, iced instant coffee drink that originated in Greece in the 1950s.
The Life Goddess, 29 Store Street, Bloomsbury, WC1E 7BS. There's also a branch in Kingly Court.
This lovely Greek restaurant has a coffee menu, which includes espresso, cappuccino and latte freddo — chilled versions with ice and cold milk froth. Alongside you'll find traditional Greek coffee, plus a fragrant rosewater-infused version.
Opso, 10 Paddington Street, W1U 5QL
The Greek Larder
This deli and restaurant serves traditional briki Greek coffee boiled over a low heat, and uses a coffee grinder from Greece.
The Greek Larder, ArtHouse, 1 York Way, N1C 4AS
Who doesn't love the beautiful coffee houses of Vienna, considered by many to be the first cafés of Europe? They have a timeless feel, and are a throwback to another, more unhurried era. Austrian coffees are lavish and indulgent — a great excuse to slow down and treat yourself, along with a rich slice of cake.
Marylebone's classic Viennese café and konditorei conjures up the grand cafés of the early 20th century. Visit for breakfast and try their wiener kaffee, a large espresso with whipped cream; or long espresso with steamed milk and whipped cream known as einspänner. They also serve cappuccino-like milchkaffee, melange (espresso with steamed milk and milk foam), and schwarzer kaffee (strong black coffee).
Fischer’s, 50 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5HN
It's Italy's idyllic and glamorous coffee culture that we most associate with contemporary coffee — a cappuccino on your way to work, an espresso after partying all night like La Dolce Vita, Nonna sending you out for a coffee granita on your Vespa…
Soho was once the hub of Italian coffee scene in London, but now only a handful of places remain.
Established by the Polledri family from northern Italy just after the second world war, this buzzy coffee bar is a Soho institution. Open until the early hours, it's popular with clubbers, local trendies and celebrities. Their coffee machine doesn't have a water filter, and the temperature is set to below boiling point — both of which makes their drinks special. This is the ideal place to stop by for an espresso, especially late at night.
Bar Italia, 22 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4RF
Founded over 70 years ago, this cosy, family-owned Italian deli and lunch spot takes coffee very seriously. You can buy espresso, cappuccino (both in different sizes), ristretto, macchiato and americano to drink in or takeaway. They also sell top-quality imported Italian coffees should you wish to make your drinks at home.
Lina Stores, 18 Brewer Street, W1F 0SH
The London outpost of a Milanese bakery and pizzeria, this popular, counter-service eatery serves several different Italian coffees. Along with the well-known espresso, cappuccino, ristretto and macchiato, there's also espresso-macchiato, espresso with whipped cream, chocolatey marocchino, and iced coffee with whipped cream. Specialities here include caffe corretto (double espresso with a choice of liqueurs), and nocciolatto (espresso with Nutella and whipped cream).
Princi, 135 Wardour Street, W1F 0UT
Many of us have lingered over a cup of coffee — perhaps too long — in Paris's Left Bank, dreaming of a bygone era when we might have hobnobbed with philosophers, artists and intellectuals.
There's no shortage of cafés, delis, patisseries and boulangeries that sell French coffees in London, but there's one that's head and shoulders above the rest.
Chelsea's classic Parisian-style all-day café is the place to head to if you thought French coffee amounted to little more than café au lait. It serves noisette (espresso with a dash of foamed milk), café crème (espresso-based milky coffee that's more popular with tourists than Parisians), and café glacé (iced coffee). All are available in decaffeinated versions; and with soya milk or whipped cream.
Colbert, 50-52 Sloane Square, Chelsea, SW1W 8AX
Spain has a vibrant coffee culture; and a number of their coffees are native versions of cappuccino and espresso.
Brindisa Brixton Ham Bar
Inspired by tabernas — Barcelona's small neighbourhood social hubs — this ham bar is located next to Brindisa Food Rooms under Brixton's railway arches. It serves bombon (espresso with sweetened condensed milk) and carajillo (espresso with whisky).
Brindisa Brixton Ham Bar, Brindisa Food Rooms, 41-43 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8JL
Camino King's Cross
This is a chain of tapas bars with a serious drinks list. In addition to bombon and carajillo, here you'll also find café solo (strong single espresso) and cortado (espresso with a dash of hot milk).
Camino King's Cross, The Regent Quarter, 3 Varnishes Yard, King's Cross N1 9FD
Vietnamese coffee — both the bean and the drink with condensed milk — has taken off majorly in London in recent years. It's widely available at Vietnamese restaurants and street food stalls.
Cā Phê VN Saigon Street Café
This popular coffee stall — only found at the Broadway Market on Saturdays — has been around for a decade, and was the first to sell Vietnamese coffee and banh mi sandwiches in London. Owner Rob Atthill works with small coffee growers and independent roasters in Vietnam, producing the brand's own coffee.
The stall sells cap he den da (black iced coffee), cap he sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk), Viet mac (strong espresso-style with condensed milk), and a latte-like long white, also made with condensed milk.
Cā Phê VN Saigon Street Café, Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Haymarket's traditional Vietnamese café serves hot and iced Vietnamese coffee, both black and with condensed milk.
VietCafé Haymarket, 23 Haymarket, SW1Y 4DG
Give masala chai a wide berth next time you’re in a south Indian restaurant: the authentic drink here is Mysore coffee, known by a dozen other names including filter coffee and Mysore filter coffee.
Sagar Covent Garden
This popular chain is one of many South Indian restaurants in London that serves Mysore coffee. This is a thick, cappuccino-like drink made from beans grown in south India, using traditional equipment and techniques. The old-fashioned way of preparing it involves tipping hot coffee from one glass into another from a height, several times in a rapid motion.
Sagar Covent Garden, 31 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS. There are a few other branches
This popular South Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant serves 'sweet frothy kappi', which is similar to Mysore coffee. It's not as strong, but it's sweeter and brewed with cinnamon.
Hoppers, 49 Frith Street, W1D 4SG
Australian and New Zealander
London's current coffee scene owes a great deal to Australia and New Zealand's casual coffee culture and coffee trends. They've been successfully transported here, and Australian-owned cafés have been springing up everywhere in recent years. All you need is a copy of The Sydney Morning Herald to look the part.
This expanding, Australian-inspired chain of cafés sells flat white, as you’d expect, but also piccolo — small single espresso topped with steamed milk that’s said to have been invented by baristas and roasters in Sydney.
Daisy Green, 20 Seymour Street, Marble Arch, W1H 7HX. There are a few other branches
Lantana Café Shoreditch
Popular with office workers and Aussie ex-pats, this mini-chain of cafés takes every stage of coffee making seriously. It boasts state-of-the-art machines, the use of traditional roasting methods, and highly trained baristas. Here you'll find flat white, piccolo, and long black — double espresso or ristretto over hot water that's popular in Australia and New Zealand.
Lantana Café Shoreditch, Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, EC1Y 1HQ. Other branches are in Fitzrovia and Camden
Allpress Espresso Bar
This New Zealander-owned café chain is a coffee roaster and espresso specialist. They serve top-quality flat white, long black and piccolo.
Allpress Espresso Bar, 58 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP. They have a roastery café in Dalston