If you’re looking for a new study space, a unique date spot, or an afternoon snack, you’re probably looking for an indie cafe. And if you live in London Ontario…you’re in luck. We all know about the chain establishments: Timmies, William’s, Starbucks. But if you’re looking for a neat, inexpensive way to explore your city and brush arms with some local charm, independent local cafes are the way to go. Whether you’re hoping for hip, homey, whimsical, delightful, or chic, London’s got you covered.
Fire Roasted Coffee – The Hip One
From its trendy design to its extremely personable baristas, Fire Roasted Coffee is the epitome of indie cafes. Here you’re bound to run into fellow students and brooding artists. They’ve got plenty of bar stool seating – perfect for studying, people watching, or melodramatic soul searching. Their unique menu will prompt you to try new and surprising drinks, like the delicious Black and Cream (espresso, blackberry syrup, and steamed cream). Plus they serve wine and beer. Their social justice emphasis will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and a medium cup of fair trade coffee will only cost you a couple bucks.
Check out their flagship location at King and Talbot.
The Black Walnut – The Homey One
If you’re new to London and missing that small-town homey feel, you definitely need to take a trip to The Black Walnut Cafe in Wortley Village. In 2013, this lively area south of Downtown London was named Canadas #1 Best Neighbourhood, and The Black Walnut is at the heart of it all. With fantastic baked goods, charming baristas, and cozy decorations, this cafe is perfect for catching up with an old friend or getting some of those required readings out of the way. Afterwards, enjoy the local clothing boutiques, vinyl record store, and beautiful old buildings that surround the cafe. Try a super fresh rhubarb tart for $3, or a fair trade coffee for $1.90. Location: 134 Wortley Rd, easily accessible by public transit on the 15 Westmount bus.
The Bag Lady – The Whimsical One
This quirky coffee-shop-vintage-store hybrid is perfect for an afternoon of exploring. Not only do they serve delicious brunch and giant local ice cream cones, but they also sell vintage variety items and wonderfully strange imported kitchen gadgets. Their strong emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, hand-made products, and their amazing red velvet couches definitely makes this the most unique cafe in London. Try one of their famous brownies, or get one cup of locally roasted coffee for $2.25. Location: 474 Paul Mall Street, in Downtown London.
Aroma Cafe – The Delightful One
If you’re looking for an authentic French cafe feel, Aroma Cafe is the obvious choice. They’ve got all the details down: black and white French movies playing in the corner, freshly baked baguettes for sale, and spot on French pastries at the counter. Aroma Cafe is associated with an even fancier restaurant, which explains their exceptional éclairs and croissants. Located right on Richmond Street, this is definitely the ideal spot for a wanderlust-filled coffee date. Despite the elegant European feel, one medium coffee or one Creme Brule dessert will only set you back $2. Location: 717 Richmond Street, in Downtown London.
Little Red Roaster – The Chic One
With 3 locations along Dundas Street and their iconic bold red cups, the Little Red Roaster is hard to miss. It might be a bit loud for a study session, but if you pop into the bustling Covent Garden Market for a latte, there will definitely be a lot to do and see. Got a free afternoon? Why not check out their location in the Central London Public Library. Grab a pile of books, one of their famous shortbread cookies, and settle in. Boasting 35 different kinds of coffee, this is a great choice for a coffee adventurer. Locations: Covent Garden Market, London Public Library, London Courthouse.
Honorable mention to: The Turkish Food booth at Trails End Farmers Market, which sells authentically made Turkish Coffee and a piece of Turkish Delight (pictured to the right) for only $1! And Locomotive Espresso at 408 Pall Mall Street for their delicious croissants and top-notch coffee bean selection.
Are you a London resident with a cafe recommendation? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.