Breakfast in London - an exercise in disappointment

London has a lot of things going for it - bars, restaurants, shows, great shops, lovely outdoor spaces, generally nice people - but breakfast is not one of them.

Sure, there are places where you can get breakfast, but the quality - for someone coming from a society who do breakfast and coffee a lot more than they do drinks - is usually low. We normally to go a local cafe, but we've been trying to branch out and find some new places on the way to work, and so far, we are 0 from 3 possible places.

Oddly enough, outside of London, it's not so bad. I suspect London is an evening city - the city is still in bed at 8am, especially on a weekend, and nursing a hang over.

So, I came up with a new rule / gross generalization for breakfast in London:

If a cafe is not run by Australians / Kiwi's / South Africans (to a lesser degree) or hipsters, it will be average at best.

So far, I'm yet to be proved wrong, despite many attempts. So, here' a bit of a list of places we have tried, and why they work (or fail). If you live (or have lived) in London, and have a "special place", please share it!

General rules:

  1. If a cafe is not run by Australians / Kiwi's / South Africans (to a lesser degree) OR hipsters, it will be average at best.

  2. If a cafe advertises itself as serving "Italian coffee" it will be burnt, over roasted, and severely under or over extracted. And too hot. This also applies to places using a "push one button" coffee machine.

Keep in mind this isn't a dig at hipsters. They just appear to (on average) give a damn about their coffee when they work at / operate a cafe.


  1. By breakfast, I mean eggs, pancakes, bacon, corn fritters etc. Only having pastries does not count, tho extra points if you have decent ones.

  2. I really only drink espresso, which means you can't hide burnt, over (or under) extracted coffee with milk. If I have to reach for the sugar, they have failed.

Places we have tried:

West London

  • Barossa, New Kings Rd, Parsons Green. (#1).Great food and coffee. Close to home. Dinner also very good, esp if you like to eat the Australian national animals. Our normal friday place, hence at the top of the list.

  • Tinto Coffee, Fulham Palace Rd. Breaks #1. Awful coffee, dry scrambled eggs. Good presentation.

  • Bloom. Fulham Palace Rd. Breaks #1. Only tried it for dinner, which was good. Will try again when they are not having the power and water cut off at 8am on a friday :(

  • Plum. Fulham Palace Rd and Munster Rd. Breaks #1. Average and quick, with "ok" coffee. Was handy to both home and work, but wouldn't go out of my way for it.

  • Annies. Thames Road, Kew Bridge. Breaks #1. Excellent food (esp the Eggs Bene), average coffee. Nice place. Bit out of our way tho :(

  • Grind Espresso Bar. Lower Richmond Rd, Putney. Not tried it yet. Didn't notice it was there when we ride past, but says it's open on the website! Suspect rule #1.

  • Highroad House. Chiswick High St. Breaks #1. Watery French/Italian coffee. Better for lunch than breakfast. Expensive.

  • Cote, Turnham Green. Not tried yet.

Central London

  • Sacred. (#1). Feels like a kiwi cafe. Generally brilliant. Run by kiwis. Even the one in the Westfield Mall in White City is great!

  • Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (Leather Lane) / Speakeasy (Carnaby St). (#1). Great coffee. Not tried the (eat in) food, tho the cakes are great. Kiwi's / Aussies and hipsters. This is where I get my coffee beans for home.

  • Caravan. (#1).** Some of the best breakfast I've had in London, or anywhere.** Interesting and qurkey food. Get there early or wait a long time on weekends.

  • Monmouth. (#1). No breakfast to speak of, but who needs it if you have all of Borough Market right outside?!!?

  • The Table, Southwark (#1). Very good food. Very good coffee, and they serve Monmouth.

East London

  • Anything (else) in Canary Wharf. Just don't. Land of chains and burnt "Italian coffee". I don't get it. There are around 30k people working in there. All in "knowledge" businessing (banking, IT etc) - industries which literally run on caffeine!

  • Taylor St Baristas. (#1). That said, I'm now told (thanks Rob!) that there is a TSB in Canary Wharf. Brilliant! Next they'll get real broadband!*

  • Mudchute Farm cafe. Breaks #1, but still manages to do good-enough coffee. Suspect hipsters. Food and cakes excellent, huge, and rustic. Not sure they are open for breakfast.

  • Hubbub, above "The Space" on Westferry Road. Great food, above average coffee. Applies #1 sometimes. Excellent when hung over (was walking distance from our old house)

North East London (Shoreditch etc)

  • Nude Espresso.  (#1). Great Espresso. Breakfast was average, but they had just opened, so would give them another chance.

  • The Book Club. (#1). Not been for a while, but was good.

  • Dose Espresso. (#1). Great Espresso. Not a breakfast place tho.

  • Tina We Salute You. (#1). Bloody excellent.

  • Railroad. (#1). Excellent coffee, excellent food.

  • The Albion. (#1?). Coffee was average, but food was good - from memory. Was ages ago.

  • Story Deli. Right over the road from Albion now. Not sure what it's like, tho the pizza USED to be great.

  • There are lots up here, due to the abundance of hipsters, especially in Shoreditch. If you can't find good coffee in North-East London, you are not trying.

South London

  • Aside from Monmouth, which isn't really south, yet to find anything. Suspect the new, improved Brixton has a few now. Clapham should, given the number of kiwi's/aussies, but I've not tried any. So should Shepards Bush / Hammersmith, but it's a wasteland, so who knows.


  • Aside from Sacred, generally: don't.

  • Le Pain Quotidien. Breaks #1 and applies #2. Tried a couple around London. Consistent, and food is ok, but coffee is average at best.

  • Cafe Nero / Starbucks / etc. Breaks #1 and applies #2. No proper food to speak of.

Outside London

  • Edinburgh. Lots. Generally good coffee, lovely breakfasts.

  • Manchester. Also lots but better up in the north east of the middle of town. Northern Tea Power was a highlight.

  • Brighton. Lots. Applies #1 liberally. Bills was good for food, but the coffee wasn't. Taylor St Baristas great for coffee, didn't try the food.

  • E14 is/was exceptionally bad for broadband. We got 1.5Mbps where we were, due to a massively oversubscribed exchange. You'd think, with the huge data centers in the area, that there would be enough capacity. Now it appears they have BT Infinity, which is good.... right after we leave. But I'm not bitter. No....

Nic Wise

Nic Wise

Auckland, NZ