This book is a celebration of London's ever-growing legion of independent cafes, coffee shops and tearooms - as well as places specialising in afternoon tea, breakfast and brunch - all of which have enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade and done much to strengthen the city's position as one of the world's leading foodie destinations. The number and variety of independent cafes in London has flourished in recent years, and if the city didn't have a cafe culture a few decades ago, it certainly does now. The quality and variety of food and drink on offer has improved beyond recognition in the last few decades, and the food served in many cafes is indistinguishable from that of a good restaurant - except when it comes to the bill, which is invariably much lower. In fact, if you want to have a good lunch (or, increasingly, dinner) in London and you don't want to pay a fortune, a cafe is often your best bet. Coffee sales in Britain have expanded rapidly in the last decade or so, as has the number of coffee shops, importers and roasteries that have sprung up around the capital.
Britain's love affair with the bean has gone, quite literally, from strength to strength; not so many years ago it was difficult to find anything but insipid, luke-warm coffee, but now fresh bean-powered brews are everywhere, thanks in no small part to a host of expat baristas and coffee roasters from Down Under. The British are famous for their love of a good cup of tea - which, as every native knows, cures all ills - although nowadays it's just as likely to be a delicate white, energising green, aromatic and complex oolong or a mysterious aged pu'er, as it is good ol' builder's brew. London has an abundance of specialist tearooms, many with expert 'tearistas' (tea baristas) on hand to proffer advice, where you can enjoy fine teas in a delightful setting. Tea is also a vital component of the quintessentially English diversion of afternoon tea. London's leading hotels - along with many restaurants, cafes and tearooms - compete to produce the most lavish and original afternoon tea, consisting of exquisite teas and divine cakes, pastries and savouries - and even cocktails and champagne! If there's one meal that the British can claim as their own, it's the cooked breakfast.
This world-famous indulgence traditionally takes the form of a huge fry-up - the 'full English' - but in today's foodie London it's just as likely to include a wealth of tasty and original dishes with influences from around the globe. Increasingly, it has competition from its stay-a-bed cousin, brunch - a moreish marriage of breakfast and lunch - which Londoners have taken to with a passion in recent years. With a copy of London's Cafes, Coffee Shops & Tearooms - featuring over 250 venues - you'll never be lost for somewhere to treat yourself to a great cup of coffee, a pot of exquisite tea or a plate of delicious food. We hope you enjoy discovering the city's burgeoning cafe culture as much as we did.