When I was a tween watching Ally McBeal, drinking a coffee as they did on the show, I had these fantasies of leaving my small town for London, working in Starbucks and living the London dream. This seems pretty ridiculous now, as it’s an ordinary part of our daily life whether it’s to meet friends, have a date or just to get your caffeine fix but to me back then, a coffee shop was the place to be.
My appreciation and slight snobbery with coffee increased when I was living and working in Italy where I’d stop at my favourite café bar across Piazza San Prospero for my morning cappuccino and brioche con crema before work. After returning to the U.K with my classic stovetop Bialetti Mocha in hand, I couldn’t just go back to regular chain store coffee.
Here are a few of my favourite places I like to go to that, in my opinion, have the best coffee around.
Northman – Bridlington
Ironically, the coffee shop I go to the most isn’t in the city in which I live but in the place I call home. Started by Oakley Wheelwright, he began by opening a small coffee station within his parent's Organic bakery & café, then into my friends' menswear store, ‘The Priory’ and finally into his own space, where he is today.
Along with what I consider to be the best Coffee in Yorkshire - maybe even the U.K, especially the soy cappuccino that is my favourite, there is an edited menu of vegetarian and vegan food and a selection of freshly prepared cakes and sweets on the marble counter. Oakley and his family have been involved in vegetarian and vegan food restaurants and catering for many years, so the food is always dreamy. I recommend the bean burger, a ‘Northman’ classic.
Laynes Espresso – Leeds
I first heard of Laynes when I was working in Leeds and bought an amazing book called ‘Independent Leeds’ which showcased the thriving independent restaurants, cafés and shops in the city.
The coffee is smooth and delicious with the beans coming from a range of roasters across Europe. I appreciate the space itself with the open kitchen being within the seating area, seeing the staff making all the food, there’s something nice about it not being separated by front and back of house which is an interior design characteristic I remember from Ilse Crawford when designing ‘Ett Hem’
The food is delicious, especially for brunch, which I had recently. I recommend the ‘Laynes Breakfast’ and the buckwheat pancakes.
Thieving Harrys – Hull
I’m really pleased a great coffee place has opened in Hull. A city that gets a bad rap but let me tell you, change is coming and Thieving Harrys is part of it. Located a short walk from the city centre near the docks on Humber Street which is quickly becoming the destination for galleries, gin pop up’s and creative studios and workspaces. Along the cobbled street, Thieving Harry’s occupies a fantastic building with it’s exterior thoughtfully preserved from the days when it was a greengrocer, the interior being an eclectic mix of mid-century furniture, Formica and industrial touches but without the slightly contrived hipster feel.
Cutting down on dairy, my usual drink of choice is a soy cappuccino, with 'Bonsoy' being my preferred milk alternative but the barista at Thieving Harry’s persuaded me to try it with oat milk by 'Minor Figures' specifically and I enjoyed it very much. Keeping it local, they also use beans from The Blending Room, Hull's only specialist micro-roaster.
If you are in London and need your fix of Italy, go to Bar Italia in Soho, a London institution. The perfect place to grab a seat outside, sip your coffee and just people watch.
Cable Co – Kensal Rise
Cable Co is my local independent coffee shop, which I go to regularly. They use seasonal blends and Single Origin Beans roasted by London coffee pioneers Climpson & Sons and always produces a delicious and well-made coffee by the baristas.
Additional to the coffee I’m rather partial to their smoothies with the banana cacao breakfast one being one of my favourites. The space is quite small but I have found it’s a nice place to work, especially at the window on a nice day.
Department of Coffee And Social Affairs – Carnaby Street
Perfectly located a stone's throw away from Oxford Street and Liberty, I find the Department of Coffee & Social Affairs a life saver when I’m in the area shopping and need that extra boost to power on through.
Hagen – The Kings Road
Hagen is a recent discovery, my friend Julian, editor of ‘Dog’ magazine (http://www.readdogmag.com/) introduced me to it by insisting we go there so he can pick up a delicious Danish chocolate bar he is now addicted to, which I can concede are delicious. There really isn’t anything similar to Hagen on the KR, so it’s such a great addition to the area.
Redemption – Lambs Conduit Street
Redemption Roasters were approached by the Ministry of Justice to help address the state of crime reoffending by running our roastery and barista training centre at Aylesbury Prison. Prisoners are 50% more likely to re-offend if they leave prison without skills and a job so Redemption work with the apprentices, receiving top-level training in a state-of-the-art facility, gain real work experience and are introduced to employment opportunities on release. Their coffee does good and tastes great, it’s a win-win.
Oliv – Berlin
I luckily found this little gem by chance when I was on a work trip in Berlin and was struck by the neon sign they had on the wall. The selection of pastries and cakes were insanely good too.
Coffee Collective – Copenhagen
When I visited Copenhagen for the first time I stayed a little bit out of the centre in an Airbnb on Jægersborggade; an area of Copenhagen with small independent shops, bars and galleries lining the ground floor of the residential streets becoming very lively on an evening. We went every morning for our coffee and loved the style of the interior, clean and simple with a muted, cool palette.
Words by Daniel Hubbard
Photography by Daniel Hubbard & Tom Watson