A first date doesn't have to be a full-blown romantic affair with dinner, wine and candles to boot. But we still want those early chats to be memorable for the right reasons.
A lovely setting can be a great ice breaker and a steaming mug in our hands a comforting soother, as we embark on that first getting-to-know-you session.
In our quest to discover the city’s best coffee shops, we’ve drunk more caffeine than is probably legal! And so while we’re finally sitting still, we bring you our final five options for date-worthy coffee in the capital.
1. Notes, Covent Garden (also branches in Moorgate and Trafalgar Square)
You know you’ve found a connoisseur among coffee shops when the beans come from the owner’s own roasterie. But as well as serving some of the best coffee in London, Notes is literally the café that keeps on giving. The barista bar doubles up as a wine station, giving you a fabulous date-extending option should things be going well, and the regular live jazz evenings only add to a sophisticated yet laid back Parisian vibe. Nous l'adorons! 36 Wellington Street, WC2E 7BD (map).
2. Camilla’s Tea House, Soho
If you don’t know your PG Tips from your Oolong, you’ll certainly find something to think about at Camilla’s Tea House, tucked away inside Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street. Despite the seriousness with which the staff take the nation’s favourite beverage, the atmosphere here is relaxed, with quirky nooks and crannies to explore. If you can’t impress your date with your knowledge of teas, you’ll certainly impress with this off-the-beaten-track gem. Top Floor, 2.12 Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PW (map).
3. Shoreditch Grind, Old Street (also branches in Soho and Holborn)
Shoreditch doesn’t have coffee shops, dahlings; it has espresso bars. And they don’t come much cooler than Shoreditch Grind. Taking its inspiration from coffee houses in the owner’s native Melbourne, the Grind - as the sign above the door suggests - puts the sex and the rock and roll into coffee, with caffeine (and cocktails) served until 11pm Monday to Thursday and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, and proximity to rock star wannabes a given thanks to the recording studio situated upstairs. Despite the cool factor, Grind takes its coffee seriously, with highly trained baristas and exclusive blends for each of its London locations. 213 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NR (map).
4. Lavish Habit, Balham
Hailed as Balham’s ‘hidden gem’, Lavish Habit is a vintage lover’s treasure trove, with more antique mirrors, rusting luggage trunks and old school knickknacks than a car boot sale. The laidback service mean you can while away the hours over a flapjack, the overflowing basement is made for rummagers, and the walled garden is a lovely surprise in warmer months. 75 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HA (map).
5. Nordic Bakery, Marylebone (also branch on Golden Square)
If kitsch isn’t your thing and you prefer to chat with your date without the clackety-clack of the city surrounding you, the Nordic Bakery is the perfect choice. As the name suggests, it draws on clean Scandinavian lines, simple but beautiful décor and a dizzying array of sweet treats. The owners believe that coffee is best drunk in a ‘calm, uncomplicated and peaceful moment’ – sounds like the perfect mind set for a first date to us. 37b New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, London W1G 8JR (map).
Main image: Facebook.com/NotesCoffeeFoodWine