North London Food & Culture

Bye bye Costa: 10 of the best independent coffee shops

With the two big chains gone, here's a handy round-up of the best local cafes in the area

While Starbucks quietly withdrew from Kentish Town a while back, we were nonetheless surprised to see Costa’s significant high street presence stripped off all its branding recently.

This week on social media we put the question to readers about what they’d like the former Costa unit to be. The dozens of responses make a fascinating glimpse into the collective state of mind, from predictable high street jokes to well-considered community suggestions, including library extensions, clothes stores and much more (well over 40 suggestions and rising, in fact). There were more than a few votes for Waitrose to move in, too. Lol.

You can read the whole Facebook thread here. And the Twitter one here, where there’s an (unsubstantiated) rumour that it might be a bathroom showroom. We’ll see.

With the two big guns are out of the way, in no particular order, here are our Top 5 fave newish coffee joints (all have opened since 2019). Plus scroll down for 5 wonderful golden oldies.


Five top new cafes

Inside NW5’s Kantin. Photo: SE

Kentish Town Stores
Arguably the cutest little coffee shop in NW5 (see our featured pic, top) in the most adorable historic building tucked just behind the high street. Go for brews, brunch – and lifestyle products, too. Read our interview with founder Luci here @kentishtownstores

Neighbourhood Organic
A brilliant re-purposing of the former post office: in post-Covid times it will make an awesome co-working space, as well as serving a vast selection of healthy and not-so healthy treats. More here @neighbourhoodorganic

Smooth, strong espresso from Kiss The Hippo roastery in an inspired reboot of the former Meadows cafe (above). We have yet to try the food, but the Turkish wraps, burgers and sarnies look like a strong offer. More here @kantin_eatery

Hidden: it’s awfully cute. Photo: SE

Hidden Coffee
One of the best coffee options in the lower Royal College Street area, tucked away under Camden Road Overground. Their ethical roastery Send is also located here, which trains people with special educational needs and disabilities. More here @hiddencoffeecamden

We love this tucked-away Gospel Oak ‘community canteen’ – it’s a useful pit stop before after the Heath, too. More here @mothercanteen

…And five classics

Good outside space. Photo: PR

Formidable coffee in warehouse-style interior @doppiocoffee

Fields Beneath
Now uber-famous, one of London’s best vegan cafes @fieldsbeneath

NW5’s friendliest cafe and deli, bar none. 100% Worth a wander into deepest Dartmouth Park @truffles_deli

Bear + Wolf
Expert brews at Tufnell Park’s super-popular hotspot @bearandwolfcafe

Saint Espresso
Always rammed in the Before Times, this has atmospheric KT views from its little pavement, too. More here @saintespresso


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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.