It's hard to swing a cat around this city without hitting a cafe, all claiming to serve speciality coffee of some description. However, the ones who do it really well are, realistically, limited. If I had a pound for every time someone served me a shit flat white, I might even be able to afford a house in London (or anywhere in the UK for that matter).
All is not lost though. Some independent cafes (and some better chain ones) offer really good coffee and, even if they fail on that, they have a strong identity and stray away from cookie cutter 'cool'.
Here are just some of them, up here in my beloved north of the city.
Arbour Cafe | Boma Garden Centre | Kentish Town
A cafe in a garden centre, I originally covered this on my new website Something Different London that's filled with unusual things to do in the capital.
It's a gorgeous neighbourhood find, down a residential street in Kentish Town, and feels a world away from the main drag. You could almost be forgiven for thinking you weren't in London at all. And that's ok with me.
Rustique | The Literary Cafe | Tufnell Park
I love this little cafe so much. It's not for the food or drink, which is perfectly adequate but not amazing, but for its fierce character. It's like cafes used to be before the hipsters came along and it isn't so dissimilar to my auntie's living room, bursting with books and well-travelled trinkets.
It's a quiet place to work, read, or catch up with the owner who'll remember you from day one.
Green Room Cafe | Church Street | Stoke Newington
Evidently, nature and coffee go well together. First, a garden centre cafe and now a florist cafe. Green Room Cafe, fronted by some of the loveliest ghost signs I've seen in the capital, is deceptively huge. It spills out into a long back garden filled with picnic benches and comes with the fragrance of whatever flowers are in season.
Nanna's N1 | St. Paul's Road | Highbury & Islington
I don't just love this place because the proprietor happens to be one of the few other Sally's that I know but because it's just so damn well put together. The level of thought is lovely.
The best spot in the house is along the front windows on a gorgeous green vintage sofa, framed with worn lampshades and dried flowers.
They've recently branched out into light evening meals and wine, which is just fine by me since it's hard to find late night cafe openings and I'd happily spend all day in one.