There’s a certain magic in a cup of hot steaming coffee which suddenly makes you feel like you can write that essay, smash that seminar and ace your presentation. Sometimes, that cappuccino with a friend between lectures is exactly what you need – others, you just want a quiet half an hour and a cuppa, and to watch the world go by.
Whatever reason you have to seek out a cafe near campus, we’re here to help. We’re glossing over the numerous Prets, Costas and Neros to give you a taste of independent places that you won’t find on every street corner (a lot of these have their own loyalty schemes, student discounts or stampcards, so keep an eye out!)
We’ve done all the hard work and coffee-drinking for you, and can now share our insights on the best places to go for your caffeine fix near SOAS.
The classic: Store Street Espresso
Just a mere three minute walk from SOAS is Store Street Espresso, located on – you guessed it – Store Street. The street itself, close to SOAS, Senate House, UCL and LSHTM, is a row of independent businesses, boasting a music shop, bookshop, and hairdresser – amongst others – plus a useful print shop which may come in handy in dissertation season.
Store Street Espresso is a chilled, industrial style cafe which serves really good coffee, and a changing selection of cakes, pastries and sandwiches. There’s extra space downstairs, a good number of plug sockets, and clientele consisting mainly of students and lecturers. Vegans and vegetarians are catered for, and free filtered water is on tap to help yourself to. It’s not the cheapest cappuccino in London (expect to pay near the £3 mark) but a lifetime away from your dishwater Starbucks, and worth it for the quality of the drinks, the friendliness of the staff, and the vibes of the cafe. Find them on Instagram.
The one with good bread: Fortitude Bakehouse
With not much of a seating area, this one is a prime takeout stop close to Russell Square, useful to pick up on your way to campus. Here, you’d be mad not to grab a snack to go with your coffee – Fortitude specialises in sourdough, and creates a range of sweet and savoury bakes as well as serving up decent single farm coffee, batch brews and special roasts from independent producers. If chocolate and molasses sugar buns, frittata brioche, or matcha, apple and custard morning buns sound up your street, Fortitude is your coffee stop of choice. Find them on Instagram.
The one in a bookshop: Dillons
For a post bookshop brew, head to Dillons, the coffeeshop inside Waterstones on Gower Street. This is one of the best bookshops in the area, with a record shop, a sizeable secondhand section and plenty of academic texts on offer – which may in fact be on your reading lists. Dillons, which is named after the lady who set up the original bookshop in the building, is usually filled with students, laptops out, coffee in hand, typing out a piece of coursework or just catching up on life admin. Serving Union coffee, a good selection of cakes, and a side of people watching, Dillons is an ideal place to catch up with friends, or get in a spot of reading. Find them on Instagram.
The hotel cafe: Burr & Co
On the edge of Russell Square, there is a rather stunning building which you’ve no doubt walked past and thought – wow. Reminiscent of St. Pancras station, the building is now the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel, a somewhat fancy place that, if you’re lucky, your parents may take you for an overpriced cocktail, should you have something to celebrate. The interiors are luxurious, sleek and modern – and this extends to the hotel’s resident hipster cafe, Burr & Co., which is a great place to sit down and get some work done. In this light-filled all day cafe, there are plenty of tables, plugs, windows – and decent wifi as well. You may not want to fork out for the food – as nice as it looks it’s on the pricier side – but the cost of a coffee is reasonable for an upmarket London cafe, and if you think that you essentially get a co-working space for a few hours too, it’s a good deal. With Caravan coffee, and being a short 5 minute walk from the SOAS campus, Burr & Co is a perfect option if you want somewhere with more buzz than the library, and better coffee than Pret. Find them on Instagram.
The sustainable coffeehouse: Kafi
Venture into Fitzrovia, and you’ll find Kafi, a cafe with an conscience. Kafi supports coffee growers , stands up for traceability, and aims to be as sustainable as possible – even their furniture is recycled! They also partner with local charities and non-profits, so you know you’re somewhere that really cares. The soft drinks, honey, and chocolate on sale are all local, and their crockery made in East London. There are plenty of options for coffee geeks, with percolation, aeropress, pour-over and cold brew options. If coffee’s not your thing, or you fancy a change, they do a whole host of other hot and cold drinks including teas and ‘wellness lattes’. Find them on Instagram.
Have you got any more recommendations? Let us know!