International Coffee Day: 3 of my top London picks

When I fly back into London after one of my latte layovers, my days off are all about getting my coffee on. As today is International Coffee Day ( I thought I’d share a cup, or two, or three with you from my home turf.

In my role as Virgin Atlantic cabin crew I fly back and forth around our fabulous network, using my downtime to visit some incredible coffeehouses around the world. But at the end of each layover, it’s time to click my Dorothys (our Vivienne Westwood-designed red shoes) because in my case, there’s no cup like home.

Back to the grind

Landing day can often take its toll, and the jet lag has me reaching for that wake-me-up cup. Three days off at base calls for at least three coffee stops.

To kick things off I absolutely love to visit London Grind, located right by London Bridge. Why? The light floods in from the large windows, shiny red buses glide by, and a beam of sunlight illuminates the silky layer of my flat white. It reminds me that I’m home, and it’s a great spot for watching London life play out.

The coffee is superb; I particularly enjoy the espresso blend and I spent most of the summer in here sipping oat milk lattes on landing day. Although it’s called Grind I can sip back and relax, as when I’m in here the only thing working is my coffee.

London Grind, 2 London Bridge London SE2 9RA

Late summery sips at Workshop

The expertly sourced coffee beans at Workshop are roasted in East London, though I like to visit their central London cafes. Last week I landed in time for a final taste of the summer menu with the Pandan – a milky coffee gently sweetened and spiced with pandan, bay and cardamom leaves. It may have been a summer special but it served as a worthy autumnal aperitif for the seasonal filters currently brewing.

Like the leaves on the trees I found myself falling for Workshop’s Guatemalan filter, Los Altares. On a sunny September morning the notes of sweet blueberries and nectarines reminded me of baked Danish pastries and warm breakfast muffins, like the ones I’d just served on-board. Towards the end of my second cup (well it was my day off) the lingering notes of pistachio and caramel gently caffeinated my morning.

I’d highly recommend Workshop’s filter tasting pack too, which I use for home brewing. It’s a wonderful collection of four coffees from different regions, sometimes changing with the seasons.

Workshop Coffee, 1 Barrett St, Marylebone W1U 1AX / Workshop Coffee Bar, 80 Mortimer St, Fitzrovia W1W 7FE

Allpress Espresso

Like Virgin Atlantic, Allpress coffee was also founded in the 1980s. Michael Allpress was running a coffee cart at Auckland University when espresso-based coffees first began to evolve in places like Seattle and the west coast of the USA.

I originally began enjoying Allpress coffee at their old site in East London, before the roastery relocated. Between sips of coffee, my eyes would always wander beyond the glass windows to the roasting area, and I decided to see if I could pay a visit beyond the glass to the roastery. To my delight, it was possible.

A week later on my final day off before flying to Orlando I was on my way to Allpress Espresso’s London roastery.

As I was a little early for my tour, I had time to enjoy an oat milk latte made with the Allpress signature blend, and having just completed my barista course at the London School of Coffee I was able to really appreciate the importance of a well-crafted espresso.

My guide Charlie talked me through the complex roasting process while I watched the green beans filtering and shooting through a network of tubes. The method being used was the hot air roast, which had a touch of the sci-fi about it. There’s something magical about the sound of the beans being blown around, waiting to be released into the drum in a rich shade of mahogany. When they all came gushing out, I could almost taste them. Experience Allpress coffee for yourself at:

London Roastery, 55 Dalston Lane, London E8 2NG, UK / Redchurch Espresso Bar, 58 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP

About Andrea Burton

Londoner and coffee connoisseur Andrea is a member of our cabin crew and has worked at Virgin Atlantic for more than 13 years. Reporting from our destinations around the world, her mission is to share the best coffee and coffee shops discovered on her layovers.
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