How to Enjoy the Daily Grind: Top 10 Coffee Shops near Old Street

The perfect skinny latte?
The perfect skinny latte?

At Kogan Page we moved offices in July from a quaint but creaking premises on Pentonville Road to a shiny new office not far from Old Street’s trendy Silicon Roundabout. A definite upgrade in our work environment, but it did mean leaving the lovely Ground Control behind. So I decided to research new sources to provide my skinny latte fix. We are based just west of Old Street station, north of the Barbican, which explains the geographical skew of my venues, but I am happy to receive tips for others slightly further afield – Ozone Coffee on Leonard Street has already been recommended (thanks Richard!) – so do please send in your ideas and feel free to add your comments about those I’ve listed below.

1) Timber Yard – this is my current favourite. Hip, friendly and serving a small but perfectly formed caffeine fix pretty close to my office. 8.5/10

2) Look Mum No Hands – also on Old Street (with other branches elsewhere in London), just down from Timber Yard, this is a cavernous place with an energetic buzz to it. It has outside space and lots of bike ‘stuff’. I probably need to try a few more cups (got a loyalty card to fill after all!), but to my mind the coffee isn’t quite as good as some of the other artisan (for which, read ‘expensive’) coffee shops. And if I’m paying up, I want to be bowled over by the quality. 6.5/10

3) Goswell Road Coffee – has a deliberately scruffy, bohemian air to it and their lattes are very good (although I was less impressed by their Americano). 8/10

4) Shoreditch Grind – right on Old Street roundabout itself this feels like a sliver of New York in EC1. Quite surprisingly given its location, it has an outside decked area with big trestle tables. I’m a sucker for the personal touch so I like the way they write your name on your cup and call you when your coffee’s good to go – service can be fairly slow but it is indeed very good coffee. Unfortunately it’s a little far from the office to become too much of a regular haunt for me. 8/10

5) Giddy Up Coffee – incredibly sweet little coffee shack in Fortune Street Park. Lovely people, lovely coffee, a novel experience, if a little overpriced given that it’s more wheelbarrow than coffee lounge. Not sure if it’s open all year so if you’re in the vicinity check it out while it’s still serving. 8.5/10

6) Pret a Manger – out of a sense of fairness and comprehensiveness, I thought I’d compare the standard chains in the area. I must admit Pret’s coffee is not bad – the skinny lattes are a little thin, lacking the thicker, velvety texture of some of the more gourmet outlets, but it has a decent kick to it and at a good 50-60p per cup cheaper than the upmarket joints, definitely good value for money. 6.5/10

7) Costa Coffee – perfectly fine, but not brilliant. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get one though Costa has its fans in the KP office! 5.5/10

8) Café Central – in the spirit of full and fair research, I dipped into a couple of sandwich places (those I wasn’t deterred from by smelly plumes of grease). A cheap alternative, but you get what you pay for as the old adage states, so I’m afraid I won’t be going back. 5/10

9) Via-agra – I had to try it just because of the name! Distinctly average. 5.5/10

10) De Santis, 11-13 Old Street – Great croissants but the coffee didn’t live up to the super-sleek shine of the venue, which is all gigantic floral creations and glass. The coffee was a little burnt and lacked body. Shame. To be fair, it was the guy who served me’s first day, so I might give them another go. 6/10.

Bonus #11) Starbucks – in my experience Starbucks coffee can be pretty variable, but the one I had was free as part of a recent special offer, so I can hardly complain! Reasonable texture, just sometimes a little weak for my taste. And I’m not even going to mention the tax issue … 6.5/10

This is becoming longer than a ‘Top 10’ now, because I keep finding new places! Two of which are very definitely worth a mention.

12) Temptations – a new, brightly-coloured place with an orange shopfront, bravely positioned on an Old Street roundabout next to Pret … The staff are delightful, the coffee’s pretty good, and they had a fabulously generous launch offer which I feel compelled to mention (even though it’s too late for you to take advantage of it!): on launch day they gave out cards with stamps for five free coffees! I’m still enjoying these and when they run out will definitely be paying for coffee here. 7.5/10

13) Fix Coffee – a funky hangout on the food market haven of Whitecross Street. Squishy leather sofas, a relaxed , creative atmosphere, gourmet coffee – and a bizarre bathroom! They take their coffee seriously and have a regularly changing selection of beans. A welcoming place to get your caffeine fix. 8/10

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