Flat White, Soho, London

17 April 2009

The tiny Flat White has a big reputation.  It is one of the best known and most admired coffee shops in Britain.

Flat White, Soho

I visited during a brief trip to London, popping in on a Friday morning.  When I arrived, It wasn’t too busy, but it soon filled up.

I hear it’s harder to find a place to sit at peak times and I’m not suprised: it’s a small place, and very (very) popular.

Flat White, Soho Flat White, Soho

Of course I had to have a “flat white”, a coffee with antipodean origins made famous in London by the cafe of the same name.  It is defined on the website as “a strong shot of espresso served in a small cup with textured milk”.  There is a helpful pronunciation guide: “Austral. flaat whyette, NZ. flet wyte”.

It was absolutely gorgeous.  Beautiful, rounded coffee and creamy, textured milk, perfectly presented.  Up there with the best brews I’ve ever had.

The beans come from Square Mile, a highly regarded roastery run by the equally-highly-regarded James Hoffman (former World Barista Champion).  It is a custom blend prepared solely for Flat White and its sister café MilkBar (see below).  The Square Mile website is here:

Flat White, Soho Flat White, Soho

Seating is by way of wooden benches and tables.  Food is available, including pastries.

Service was a bit glum, but that may have been a one-off.  Apart from that I found Flat White to have a friendly, convivial atmosphere, although I wouldn’t have felt entirely comfortable taking up valuable seating space for very long.

It’s a bit cramped, and in a less charming way than the Monmouth Covent Garden branch.

Flat White, Soho Flat White, Soho

There has been a definite Flat-White-shaped hole in Cosy Coffee Shops, until now.  Along with Monmouth and a few others, it is right at the top of the London coffee house chain, in terms of reputation.

For quality coffee, there is nowhere better.  For comfort, I might head elsewhere.  Still, it is a “must visit” for coffee drinkers and comes very highly recommended.

Flat White, Soho

17 Berwick St


We visited on 17 April 2009.

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  • Danny 17 August 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I visited Flat White today for the first time. I went there expecting something different (and better). For me, this coffee shop is vastly overrated.
    Firstly, I ordered a regular Latte. I sat down, and later was served a well-presented Latte, but in a very small glass. That was regular? In most other coffee shops that size would be considered small. Sure it tasted good, but it was far too small for a regular, and it’s price (£2.50).
    Also, there was loud hip-hop/rap music blaring out of the speakers in the shop. Why does the place have to play such loud music? And this of all genres? They may as well have played some heavy metal at full blast. This together with the general lack of comfort when seated in this too small and not that attractive place, made me want to finish my drink and leave promptly.
    Considering that this is supposed to be one of the best coffee shops in London, I would have thought that more generous portions of coffee would be served to the customers (when I order a regular drink, I expect a medium-sized one!). And that the owners would have a better taste in music, and not play it so damn loud.
    In my opinion, there are far better coffee shops in London, with just as good coffee, a more comfortable environment, and better value for money (LJ Coffee House and Sacred are a couple of examples).

  • Chris 2 September 2009 at 12:49 pm

    To Danny: That’s how you’d get a latte served in Australia, in a small glass, which I think is better than the oversized coffees you get in many places but annoying if it’s not what you expect.
    I liked flat white, it was a friendly and trendy place, but I still prefer monmouth coffee (and most places that serve it) in London.

  • Jimmy 25 June 2011 at 11:20 pm

    This place has been very overrated. It’s small and dingy, really dark inside, and actually, the staff is arrogant and careless and the music is really loud. Much nicer places in Soho, like Maison Bertaux and Bar Italia.

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  • Chris 1 September 2014 at 8:31 am

    This place lost it since the original barisstas left, and promtly was redecorated and sanitised (when I say left, they were kicked out by the owner as supposedly being to exclusive). The flat white and atmosphere used to be the best in London now I think it is well behind the competition. Wish I knew where those guys were, Id travel to taste that again.