A review of Coffee Island’s flagship London store near Leicester Square. Review by a digital nomad hunting for friendly places with good coffee and remote-work suitability.
Off the plane and one of the first Picadilly trains into central London, I wandered about the sleepy cobblestone streets around Leicester Square. At 8am, most windows only revealed dim stores with undisturbed racks. As I walked towards Covent Garden, I stumbled upon glowing storefront — a new cafe in an established district.
As I walked through the open door and past the roasting machine, I discovered another surprise: a two-story loft with a grand central island where the drinks are prepared. Was this Leicester Square?
But the biggest surprise of all was how friendly the staff were (so atypical of the city). The manager greeted me warmly, asked if I had any questions about the apparatuses around the windows, and if I needed any recommendations. Then, he left me alone to deliberate on my first coffee of the day.
Then, I noticed all the plugs around the walls, deliberated on which spot to sit at, and put down all my things before going back to the counter. I was greeted by virtually every brewing option I could want. The one thing I craved wasn’t on the menu — a cortado. When I asked the baristas about how they prepared their espresso drinks (single or double-shot?) and debated about a cappuccino, they asked if there was something else I wanted.
When I admitted I wanted a piccolo latte or cortado, they readily obliged. The manager’s response was, “We like it when customers challenge us to make something different.”
The latte art and the coffee were a distance from amazing, but well above acceptable. Anyone going through Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, or Covent Garden should take the extra few minutes to walk here rather than to a Costa. So when I think of it as the parking fee for an outlet-filled cafe, with free Wi-Fi, books, and space, Coffee Island is great value. Even moreso when there are so many yummy pastries that greet you right at the door.
After I got my drink, I headed upstairs to the second level, where I was the only guest. The other remote worker had his space downstairs to himself as well. It was the perfect place to spend two hours living the digital nomad life, making calls and getting work in before hopping on the Picadilly Line back to Heathrow again to continue on my journey.
Their Story / What I like About Them:
Coffee Island is actually a Greek coffee shop chain that began in 1999. They now have over 300 stores, mostly in Greece and Turkey and the London flagship store is (I’m told by the manager) an upscale departure from their usual take-away shops. The chain grew so much that they began to do their own industrial-grade roasting. As such, you’ll find a variety of single origin and blends on offer to suit your tastes.
What caught my eye amongst the coffee equipment that they sold was the signature Ottoman unfiltered coffee maker. This style of coffee is signature Greek and Turkish, but is also found in Albania and other places with Ottoman influences. The brewing method involves putting the coffee grinds in the maker, pouring water, and sticking it on top of hot sand until it bubbles up three times. If you haven’t tried, this is definitel the place to do it!
- Coffee: Espresso, pour-over, aeropress, V60, french press, syphon, Greek coffee
- Food: lots of pastry options
- Cafe Space: 30+, with an upper loft level
- Friends: Hangouts
- Workspace: individual and group tables
- Remote Work: Wi-Fi available, lots of plugs
5 Upper St Martin’s Ln, London WC2H 9NY
|Hours:||Mon – Fri: 7:30 – 21:00
Weekends: 9:00 – 21:00
If you liked this post, check out my coffee walk through Soho and Fritzrovia!