Finding a great cup of specialty coffee in Hackney is easy, especially for a borough known for craft breweries and sourdough bakeries.
Coffee has been drunk in London since the mid-17th century. While the city’s traditional coffee houses may have changed over the centuries, an increasing trend for specialty coffee proves they’re just as popular today. Specialty coffee is the highest grade of coffee available, with the best ingredients grown in the best possible conditions. It’s graded on acidity, body and sweetness, and requires the best barista knowledge to ensure its quality is maintained. We’ve tracked down the places where you can find some of the world’s best coffee beans without even leaving the borough.
Previously known as Hackney Coffee Company, this multi-use hideout is the perfect place to spend your afternoon. Housed in a former derelict warehouse, the venue’s high ceilings and skylights allow for lots of natural sunlight which brings out the building’s beautiful exposed brick interior and the bar’s multiple-toned vertical tiles. They specialise in guest speciality coffee here, with specialty teas from East London Tea Company. Try the batch brew of their locally named Columbia Road filter coffee (the famous flower market is minutes away). It’s easy-drinking, with suitably floral notes and a citrus, berry and caramel aftertaste. If you’re in the mood for a treat, their own-branded Hackney Coffee Co. espresso hits the spot with an Anzac cookie or raspberry lamington. Once the sun disappears behind the city’s skyscrapers, this venue transforms from a daytime cafe into an evening cocktail bar; the ideal spot for an HCC Espresso Martini.
503 Hackney Road, E2 9ED
Batch Baby is one of Hackney’s best secrets. Housed in the Rose Lipman community space on the De Beauvoir Estate, the non-profit coffee shop epitomises the perfect cafe, with a loving focus on coffee, food and community. Coffee aficionados will be drawn to the huge bright red La Marzcoco coffee machine on the counter. It’s great having the right tools, but the staff here also have a deep knowledge of coffee to match it. They seriously know their beans, and the rotating cast of coffee roasters on display is always of an excellent standard. Recent guest SPROs on the venue’s distinctive retro pink and green menu include Nicaragua’s Outpost anaerobic (piña colada, red liquorice, cocoa) and, just for autumn, a pumpkin spice latte. Batch Baby’s much-loved sourdough toasties are also a must-try. It’s the perfect place to relax on a rainy morning, with a book in one hand and the signature BB orange-tinted ceramic mug in the other.
Rose Lipman Building, 43 De Beauvoir Road, N1 5SF
Brunswick East lies in the heart of Stamford Works, a creative enclave just off Kingsland Road. The cosy cafe is crammed with specialty coffee such as Elsewhere’s Colombian single origin (with tasting notes of milk chocolate, cream tea and summer fruits), with Hario V60 pour-over coffee available on weekdays only. The coffee is best washed down with a freshly baked coffee scroll, snickerdoodle cookie or spinach & feta croissant. This women-led, independent business is also home to the rooftop Sky Farm which grows, harvests and prepares ingredients for their rotating specials, including their Sky Farm Prawn Toast. They also make their cheese, oils and pickles in-house, alongside their own sourdough, a 36-hour process. Brunswick East is an excellent coffee hub with delicious food centred around sustainability. Be sure to arrive early and grab their morning breakfast buns before they sell out.
3d, Stamford Works, Gillett Street, Dalston, N16 8JH
Paradox Design + Coffee
Paradox Design + Coffee is the true definition of a passion project. The brains behind Paradox are a husband and wife duo, who wanted to combine their passions for coffee, creativity and design in one. As such, they take their coffee extremely seriously but with an element of fun. Their espressos are of an exceptionally high standard, although they are, perhaps, best known for their exceptionally creamy oat cappuccinos. Their iced rose matcha is a must-try, as are specials such as their strawberry-infused iced filter. Limited space means they’re a takeaway joint only, although they can offer you a ceramic cup to enjoy your coffee on the outside benches. Recent guest brews include Colombia’s Javier Alvear and the Rwandan Ireme (gorgeous notes of overripe strawberries, grapefruit and pomegranate).
Unit A, 13-23 Westgate Street, Netil Market, E8 3RL
Lodestar is a hugely popular speciality coffee shop in Clapton with a definite neighbourhood vibe. The cosy and intimate space offers house espresso, batch brew and hand brew from worldwide roasters including Belfast’s world-class Bailies Coffee. Guest specialty coffees include Kawa’s Ayla Bombe, with notes of mango, passionfruit and banana, which come through the longer you leave it to cool. The baristas are friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about their coffee. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a vacant window seat in the corner of their cosy backroom. The snug space is inspired by Japanese minimalism with cream calico curtains, natural lighting and lots of greenery. The coffee is served on a small bamboo tray accompanied by a glass of water, with verbal guidance on how best to enjoy it. Alternatively, grab your coffee to go and enjoy at the nearby Clapton Pond. If you’d like to explore your coffee passion further, Lodestar hosts intimate monthly cupping events for 25-30 people, so keep an eye on their social media.
163 Clarence Road, Lower Clapton, E5 8EE