London is blessed with a great coffee scene, numerous cafes, and no less than two World Barista Champions who call the city home. I’ve been slowly cataloging the cafes I visited on my trip to London, but if you’re planning your own vacation a new guide book has come out that’s worth your while.
The Independent Coffee Book – London is a beautiful little labor of love, put together by Vespertine Press, “a Brighton-based independent publisher dedicated to making practical, beautifully printed guide books that showcase the very best exponents of specialty coffee in the UK.” It’s part of what looks to be a burgeoning series; you can pick up another edition centered around the coffee in Brighton & Hove on England’s southern coast.
What I like about the London book is that it gives you a local’s introduction to each cafe, providing you with the context and history that gives each shop its character and charm. This is great when you’re just in town for a short time and really gives you a greater appreciation for what you’re experiencing. For London residents, it might also shed some new light on your favorite spot to grab a coffee, or point you towards other worthy cafes. The book is conveniently organized into regional sections that focus on the City of London, the West End, as well as North, South, and East London.
The book also has practical information that could come in handy, especially for tourists – like which shops have public restrooms, their hours, and the nearest public transit stops.
In the second half of the book, you’ll find a wealth of brief educational articles written by some of London’s specialty coffee professionals. These include: “A History of London Coffee Houses;” a map of World Wide Coffee Production; discussion on “The Ethics of Coffee Buying,” “Coffee Roasting,” “Brewing Methods,” and a handy flavor wheel.
All in all it’s a nice overview and introduction to specialty coffee and to London’s coffee culture – a great gift to travelers, Londoners with an interest in coffee or local indie businesses, and anyone else curious for a taste of London’s coffee scene.
The book is available for £10 on Vespertine’s website. Shipping in the UK £2, and most other countries is £4.