Beyond the coffee chains choking our high streets, London is full of artisan coffee shops, where luxury and rarity is prized. There is an absolute boom in these specialty coffee experiences, if you know where to look. Here, SPHERE explores the very best coffee nooks in London.
SPHERE Curates: London's Most Luxurious Coffee Spots
3rd April 2023
SPHERE has carefully hand-picked London's most luxurious cafés, each with their own take what makes an amazing coffee. Whether filtering fresh from the bean before your eyes, serving espresso in a Bugatti carbon fibre glass or just one really great cup of artisanal coffee, Pippa Lowe has found it.
Queens of Mayfair - The refined one
Queens of Mayfair gained instant kudos in September 2020 for having London's most expensive cup of coffee. The 'Cup of Excellence' cost £50, and only 15 cups were ever made.
The most sought after coffee on their menu now is the Best Geisha of Panama, £28 a cup, - a sweet and citrusy 94 grade coffee made in line with their speciality V60 coffee experience. This involves a table-side barista hand grinding the coffee beans before your eyes and filtering them through a V60 drip filter into a wine glass.
The cosy spot, run by sisters Grace and Victoria Shepperd strives to create something truly luxurious in Mayfair for serious coffee fans and their current menu includes both Brazilian Daterra and Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee - with an option to add the V60 filtration for a further £15.
Cafe Kitsune - Contemporary and Colourful
Housed on the ground floor of Belgravia's magnificent Pantechnicon venue, Cafe Kitsune - first introduced in Tokyo by French-Japanese clothing company and record label Maison Kitsune - has been in London for 18 months. The cafe layout simple, suave and lined with tasteful art magazines and plants giving a relaxed, contemporary feel - the perfect spot to sit with a laptop and romanticise your workload while snaffling coffee and Japanese inspired patisserie.
As well as its fabulous coffee, Cafe Kitsune is also a must-visit for matcha connoisseurs, who beat a path to its door for their signature iced strawberry matcha (£7) last summer. If matcha is your thing, the perfect hot alternative to the iced strawberry matcha is their chestnut matcha latte (£6.50). For the classic sweet coffee nut like myself, their Cafe Bon Bon (£6), Kitsune's own take on a Spanish latte or cafe con leche made with condensed milk, is available both iced and hot to give a simultaneous sugar and caffeine hit.
Ettore's Espresso Bar, Bugatti - Totally unique
The Bugatti showroom in Bruton Street Mayfair is now home to both coffee and cars? Yes! But this is certainly not your average cup, or shot, of coffee. The famed Ettore shot at Ettore's Espresso Bar is offered to clients at £50, and it is an experience any sports car fanatic and coffee lover would dream of.
The £50 spend, is not just for the coffee itself. Rolled into the experience is the Bugatti carbon fibre espresso cup - which you get to keep - along with full access to the Bugatti lounge and up-close view of the Baby Bugatti II or Chiron on display.
As to the range of coffee, there is lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites on offer, from a state-of-the-art Italian espresso machine following in the engineering legacy of Ettore Bugatti. It's his name on the espresso bar after all. The lounge is kitted out with refined Bugatti carbon fibre and leather armchairs, the same first-rate materials that are featured in their cars.
This unique espresso bar gives non-Bugatti clients the opportunity to set foot in the dealership appointment-free for the first time - its time to try an Ettore shot.
Kiss the Hippo - Most sustainable
Well in the running to be the most sustainable roastery in London and even the world, Kiss the Hippo have their award-winning approach thought through from start to end. Beginning at the source of their coffee, they strive to build strong healthy relationships with their coffee farmers worldwide - paying at least 50% over the Fair Trade price and making routine visits.
Roasting with energy-efficient Loring Smart Roasters in the world's first carbon neutral organic certified roastery powered by 100% renewable sources, they have achieved the title of London's first carbon negative coffee brand. Pretty guilt-free coffee drinking right?
Now with locations in Fitzrovia, Richmond, King's Cross and Shoreditch it's easy to grab a cup of arguably the cleanest coffee in London.
Their menu hits all the coffee shop staples: caffe latte, cortado, americano.. with the option to upgrade to one of their sustainably farmed select coffee strains including their Ethiopia Buka Sayisa named after the village it originates. Leading on from the ability to have Kiss the Hippo from your own kitchen, you can now bring your at-home barista experience to a whole new level with their home brewing, home espresso and latte art masterclasses available at their Fitzrovia location.
Arabica - A minimalist approach
If you've spotted a % sign dotted about London on coffee cups and tote bags that's a sure sign somebody has been to Arabica. The Japanese coffee house has brought a passion for both coffee and minimalist design to London, with stores in Covent Garden, Hackney, Mayfair and most recently, Spitalfields Market, and they're beginning to charm the capital with their small but high quality menu and clean-cut modern look.
The menu highlights are matcha lattes (£4.30), their worldwide bestselling Kyoto latte (£4.20) as well as their cult classic (and my personal favourite) Spanish latte (£4.20), made with condensed milk, that I advise every sweet coffee lover to try.
This coffee isn't simply made from fancy Arabica beans, it originates from founder Kenneth Shoji's own coffee farm in Hawaii that he invested in with the intent of growing and creating the best coffee possible.
Arabica is certainly a grab-and-go coffee destination that's an upgrade from the usual Pret next to the tube station, convenient for those on their way to work or grabbing a coffee with a friend to walk with. It's simple, but has London talking - become a part of the conversation.