Dissolute, stay-up-late Soho may be best known for its pubs, but it also has a powerful thirst for coffee. Over the last few years, a wave of coffee shops have opened up, and you're never more than one street away from the next precision-pulled espresso.
In this part of town, there's a coffee to suit every mood, from a swift morning takeaway at Fernandez & Wells to an indulgent, gelato-spiked affogato at Gelupo. And if the caffeine craving strikes late, never fear: Bar Italia, open since 1949, dispenses coffees around the clock.
Speakeasy Espresso & Brew Bar
3 Lowndes Court, (0)20 7434 3340, www.speakeasycoffee.co.uk
This is one for coffee connoisseurs, who tend to bypass the airy ground-floor espresso bar in favour of the basement brew bar, with its weekly changing coffee beans and choice of brewing methods. Thursdays bring free, drop-in training sessions with the baristas, from 5-7pm.
193 Wardour Street, www.tapcoffee.co.uk
The Probat roasting machine at the back of TAP testifies to its commitment to good coffee, while the spacious, stripped-down interior is a relief after Oxford Street's crowds. In summer, try the super-strength cold brew coffee, dispensed in little brown medicine bottles. There's no sign outside, so look out for the number above the door.
Fernandez & Wells Espresso Bar
16A St Anne's Court, (0)20 7494 4242, www.fernandezandwells.com
Everyone may be serving flat whites these days, but this is the only place you'll find a "stumpy" (€3/£2.60). It's a strong, velvety brew with a shot of milk, served in a short - hence "stumpy" - glass. To accompany it, order a creamy, flaky pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart).
3 Bateman Street, (0)20 7287 4796, www.flatwhitecafe.com
Sister to the more polished Flat White on nearby Berwick Street, Milkbar is smaller, scruffier and (in our opinion) cooler, with its 1950s-style shopfront and dive-bar décor. The baristas here serve a textbook flat white, made from a bespoke Square Mile Coffee blend: velvety without being too milky, packing a punch and adorned with a perfect foam-froth fern.
1 Green's Court, (0)20 7287 7663, www.yalla-yalla.co.uk
Better known for its mezze, this tiny, convivial Lebanese café also offers cardamom-spiked Arabic coffee, served in a little brass rakweh pot, and with dainty, handleless cups. Time your visit to avoid the lunchtime rush, and nibble on date- or walnut-stuffed maamoul cookies.
Algerian Coffee Stores
52 Old Compton Street, (0)20 7437 2480, www.algcoffee.co.uk
Behind its jaunty red frontage, the Algerian Coffee Stores is a coffee emporium par excellence, stocked with 81 different coffee beans and 24 flavoured brews.
As regulars know, it also has the best-value takeaway deal in Soho: €1.18/£1 for an espresso, be it double or single.
22 Frith Street, (0)20 7437 4520, www.baritaliasoho.co.uk
With its whiff of disrepute, iconic neon signage and night-owl hours (it closes at 5am, only to re-open two hours later), Bar Italia is a Soho institution. Its venerable Gaggia coffee machine works through the night, dispensing potent, bittersweet espresso. It'll set you back €2.60/£2.20, though: all that history comes at a price.
7 Archer Street, (0)20 7287 5555, www.gelupo.co
Specialising in exquisite gelato, and run by the owners of acclaimed Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo, this is the place to come for coffee and dessert in one. Affogato (€3.50/£3) is a classic - a double espresso with a scoop of fast-melting hazelnut gelato - while the caffè allo zabaglione is a sweet, rich mix of coffee, beaten egg yolks and sugar.