London is thriving with locally owned businesses. Unfortunately, these local gems are often lost in a sea of corporations dominating every street corner (ahem, Timmies and Starbucks).
As loyal Canucks, we can’t deny the warm feeling we get in our heart when we see a Tim Hortons after a long vacation abroad. But when it comes down to it, Tim Hortons just doesn’t cut it for a 3-hour study session, or a tasty brew of authentic, Colombian espresso.
The team here at Santa Knows Best is VERY serious about coffee. It allows us to stay alert and gives us a satisfying treat any time throughout the workday. With our love of the energy-inducing drink in mind, and a firm mission to eat and shop local, we set out to find the best coffee shops in London. So without further ado, here is our compilation of the best coffee shops in the city – in no particular order!
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
1018 Dundass St. (map)
Located in the Old East Village of London, 10Eighteen is serving up more than just fantastic coffee. What sets this coffee bar apart from the others it is dedication to that perfect cup of joe every time. Rather than batch brewing their coffee, they have a pour-over bar.
What’s a pour-over bar you ask? Once you order your coffee, they grind the beans right in front of you and pour you a personal cup every time – talk about fresh! While the coffee is terrific, the food is also something to write home about. They source their ingredients from local artisan bakeries and supply their customers with fresh and delicious meals every time. From charcuterie boards (vegan options, too!) to sandwiches of the day served on a flaky croissant – there is something for everyone to enjoy at 10Eighteen Coffee Bar.
We can’t forget to mention that 10Eighteen isn’t just serving up coffee, but wine and beer too. That’s right, this coffee shop has a liquor licence. This ensures that 10Eighteen is the perfect spot to grab a quick breakfast a mid-afternoon pick me up in the way of a cold craft beer or a piping hot Americano! The options are endless here, and we can’t deny the warm and welcoming atmosphere 10Eighteen is providing for its patrons.
Neighbourhood: Downtown London, Old South & Old East Village (x2)
105 King St, 136 Wortley Rd, 630 Dundass St & 900 King St. (map)
With four locations in the city, and fifteen years experience under their belt – Fire Roasted Coffee has become a London favourite. They sell all the regular cafe fare such as baked goods and teas, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the coffee.
What sets Fire Roasted apart from the rest is the continuous dedication to sourcing whole beans from around the world. From fair-trade, to direct trade and organic beans – Fire Roasted Coffee is serving up one of the largest coffee bean selections in Canada!
Our personal favourite location in London is their flagship retail store at the corner of King and Talbot (kitty corner to the Covent Garden Market). If you’re looking for a place for a coffee date, or a cozy place to study, this location will surely meet your needs! An added bonus is their connection with Pulp & Press Juicery. These two shops are connected, so you can grab a juice for lunch then a coffee to go!
Neighbourhood: Downtown London
717 Richmond St. (map)
Since joining forces in 2018, big things are coming for these two London favourite destinations. The Plant Matter chain has been serving up plant-based food and beverages since its flagship opening of Plant Matter Kitchen in 2016 (located in the beloved Wortley Village).
Ground Up Cafe opened its doors in 2017 and its mission was to provide Londoners with a spot for comfort meals, coffee & tea beverages and grab and go vegan fare. We think of it like a cozy vegan Starbucks!
We are particularly excited for this amalgamation of businesses and can’t wait for them to finish their transition! While they are planning on updating the interior of the Ground Up Cafe, it will still possess the homey and welcoming feel it does today. It will just be better.
Dairy free folks, don’t worry because Ground Up is committing to continuing their own signature (nut) milks to ensure that perfect latte every time! The most significant difference is that Plant Matter is stepping in with their resources and knowledge of plant based fare. All the food will now be prepped off site at the Plant Matter Kitchen.
The location of this cute café is charming and welcoming. It is situated in a building with an exquisite atrium. If you catch it at the right time of day, the lighting alone will delight any avid Instagrammer. Combine the Ground Up’s innovative coffee drinks with Plant Matter’s undeniable plant-based food talent and you’ve got yourself a dream cafe to study in for hours or stop by on your way to work. We are excited about this unification, and you should be too!
Neighbourhood: Downtown & Old South
724 Richmond St. & 134 Wortley Rd. (map)
Less is always more, and the Black Walnut is no exception to this. Its first location opened in 2011 in Wortley Village and was such a success that by 2015 they had expanded to the famous Richmond Row. There has never been a time we’ve gone to Black Walnut without waiting in line. The place is always lively and this is a testament to the quality of coffee, baked goods and basic lunch items they’re serving up on a daily basis.
The coffee is roasted in-house and the quality is top notch. From an extensive selection of specialty drinks to all the barista classics, Black Walnut is the perfect spot to nestle up with a book, or go on a lunch date.
While the coffee is excellent, we can’t fail to mention their food. A selection of homemade salads, baked goods and lunch items are available all day. An honourable mention has to go out to the homemade honey whole wheat bread. Never stale, always fresh and delicious – this bread elevates classic sandwiches such as ham and turkey, tuna and egg salad etc. If you’re looking for a quick & easy, yet fresh & delicious lunch spot then definitely head to Black Walnut Bakery.
408 Pall Mall St. (map)
Since its opening four years ago, Locomotive has gained positive traction amongst Londoners. From Instagram worthy avocado “smashies” to next level espresso and kombucha options, Locomotive Espresso is definitely killing the health food and coffee game! Their menu caters to those with dietary restrictions with gluten free options & snacks like vegan donuts, toast with peanut butter and bananas and much more. This is the ultimate destination for a coffee date, study session or lunch break. You’ll leave feeling satisfied and likely pat yourself on the shoulder for having a healthy snack or meal (I mean, unless you snag yourself one of those delicious looking donuts!).