In the middle of an English winter, a hot chocolate or cup of tea is just the comfort you’ll need. In east London
, independent cafes are an unstoppable force and it’s one of the best places to warm up with a hot drink. We pick the best spots to try.
Konditor and Cook
Konditor and Cook is a cake store and school, with a number of locations throughout London. This particular store is on the ground floor of The Gherkin building near Aldgate tube station. The café is set up like a canteen for the busy corporate worker, with bags and boxes of gorgeous homemade biscuits and hand crafted cakes for sale. The hot chocolate is simply presented but will warm the cockles. Hot, rich, and creamy chocolate milk makes for an exceptional drink, enjoyed, if you can handle the sugar rush, over a brownie or raspberry meringue.
Konditor and Cook, 30 St Mary Axe, London, UK
Verde & Co
Verde & Co is the place to go if you are serious about your hot chocolate. Melt 40 grams of Belgian dark chocolate by Pierre Marcolini into the milk as they steam it and the end result is an irresistibly rich hot chocolate that is worth some pretty extravagant pricing. The tiny corner shop is across the road from Old Spitalfields Market and is packed floor-to-ceiling with produce, from sauces and preserves to pasta and puddings.
Verde & Co, 40 Brushfield St, London, UK
The first thing you’ll notice about this enchanting chocolate shop is the smell. A heavy and intoxicating aroma of chocolate draws you into the corner store nestled in the heart of Brick Lane. As for the hot chocolate, take your pick from chilli, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon flavoured, as well as a classic hot chocolate. All come with milk, white, and dark chocolate shavings which are hand-chopped in front of you before being sprinkled on top of the drink. What seems like a pleasant garnish suddenly melts into the hot chocolate, making it richer, sweeter, and delightfully thicker. A wicked indulgence, this is a must for anyone wanting to treat themselves this winter.
Dark Sugars, 141 Brick Lane, London, UK
Long White Cloud
Bordering Hoxton and Shoreditch, Long White Cloud is a remarkable little café and gallery space, showcasing contemporary art of varying styles and mediums. They serve Monmouth coffee and a full all-day breakfast menu, including an assortment of allergen-friendly and vegan baked goods. Hot chocolate is made using Green & Blacks organic chocolate; they serve both milk hot chocolate and white hot chocolate with cinnamon. The latter is a sweetly spiced concoction that is a refreshing alternative to a standard hot chocolate.
Long White Cloud, 151 Hackney Rd, Hoxton, London, UK
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Cafe, British, $$$
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Ozone’s café in Shoreditch manages a warm, open atmosphere in an industrial style space. Beans are roasted downstairs and sold in the café. Top quality coffee is their business, but they also offer a fresh lemon, ginger, and honey tea. This is served in a small clear, coffee pot, where you let the freshly chopped ginger and sliced lemon brew for as long as desired. Other teas on offer include a fresh mint tea and the lemon and ginger drink, a perfect winter warmer and a soothing alternative to a hot chocolate.
Ozone Coffee Roasters, 11 Leonard St, London, UK
This local Bakehouse offers a warm escape from the winter cold amid the smell of sourdough baking and freshly made pastries and treats. The open workspace means you look over the counter and watch (and smell) the baking as it happens. Hot chocolate is served in a ceramic mug and as you reach the bottom, real chocolate bits make for a happy surprise at the end.
E5 Bakehouse, Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London, UK
A gem in the trendy Shoreditch area, Fix 126 offers a hot chocolate with all the trimmings. Milk options include soy and almond, chocolate options are both milk and white, and extras like whipped cream and syrup make the winter warmer an indulgent treat on a bitterly cold winter’s day. Almond milk in particular creates a unique flavour, the nuttiness adding complexity to the chocolate taste. There is also a sister ‘Fix’ café in Shoreditch, a good idea as the popularity of Fix 126 ensures a crowd.
Fix 126, 126 Curtain Rd, Shoreditch, London, UK
56 St James
This charming café in Walthamstow with its stylishly quirky design, including a focus on pineapples and carefully placed stacks of National Geographic magazines, is a lovely backdrop to a great coffee, hot chocolate, or cup of tea. The tea is especially good, loose leaf and individually packaged into teabags upon ordering. The newest winter warmer here is a fresh mint tea, which is quite literally fresh mint leaves in boiling water. It may be simple, but exceptionally effective at providing soothing winter comfort.
56 St James, 56 St James St, London, UK