It's that time of year again when the windows start fogging up, blurring the view into dimly lit coffee shops and crowded restaurants. In honor of the season for seeking the warmth of indoors and enjoying free heating for the small, reasonable price of a coffee, here are my top 6 recommendations for cozy coffee shops where you can loiter to your heart's content. Importantly, in today's economy, "small" equates to all your earthly possessions for an oat milk flat white, a notable amount for a trendy drink. The rating scale is as follows: for coffee cost, it ranges from 1-5, where 1 signifies 'good luck paying rent' and 5 signifies 'affordable.' Heating goes from 1-5, with 1 being numbed toes and 5 being perfect toastiness. Lastly, loiterability is rated from 1-5, where 1 means 'you're better off taking your coffee to go,' and 5 suggests 'you can stay so long they might close the shop with you inside.
THE YELLOW WARBLER 9 Northwold Rd, London N16 7HL
Starting with a community favorite: The Yellow Warbler. Pop in for some banter with one of the two shop owners who look nearly identical, yet not quite. They prepare each coffee or tea with soul and joy while dancing around to great 70s jams. Even if you're not a regular (yet), the place makes you feel like you've stepped right into a local gem and have been welcomed with open arms. Grab a seat and don't shy away from sitting at a table with strangers; it's kind of integral to the experience. An honorable mention goes to the lovely mugs used according to your drink of choice. Beware of the "What are you up to today?" question asked as you pay and plan an answer if you're like me and tired of responding with "Nothing really."
Coffee Cost: 2.5/5 Heating: 5/5 Loiterability: 3.5/5 Overall score: 3.7/5
THE TIN CAFE 1 Middleton Road, Haggerston E8 4BL
While this was more of a summer staple as I was on my way to lounge in London Fields with the rest of the hipster London population and spend too much on a cocktail on Broadway Market, I feel it can double as a stellar cold-weather spot. The interior is the perfect amount of chaotic, with mismatched chairs and reminders all around of the shop's dog-friendliness. If you're lucky, you may even enjoy the presence of a dog as you sip delicately on your cup of joe. Don't miss their smoothies, which are sure to replenish all the nutrients you've missed while eating plain boiled pasta in light of approaching deadlines and exams.
Coffee Cost: 2.5/5 Heating: 4/5 Loiterability: 1/5 Overall score: 2.5/5
CANDID CAFE 3 Torrens St, London EC1V 1NQ
Never have I felt more pumped to go into a cafe. Without fail, every single time I've climbed the three flights of stairs to reach Candid Cafe, I get rewarded with a compliment on my outfit by the cool baristas, who secretly, seriously, somewhat intimidate me. The playlist is one for the books, with jazz that will knock your socks off and make your cappuccino-drinking experience borderline heavenly. Being affiliated with the Candid Arts Trust, you also get to eavesdrop on the intriguing lives of artists. Tucked in an alley by Angel Station, you might fear you will miss it. But fear not! Let the big horse head above the door guide you.
Coffee Cost: 3.5/5 Heating: 5/5 Loiterability: 5/5 Overall score: 4.5/5
SCOOTER CAFE 132 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE
Many students are still unfamiliar with Lower Marsh, even though it is conveniently located near campus. Its proximity to Waterloo Campus is especially practical for a quick and cozy retreat. Scooter Cafe has knocked soft lighting out of the park, but also the lighting is playfully precarious, as the dangling lights have seen many heads get smacked. Scooter Cafe also offers cocktails and drinks, so if you feel that tea or coffee is not enough, you're in for a treat with their wider beverage selection. Do not, I repeat, do not miss out on their toasties. My mouth is watering as I write this. Now is the time to go, as they have two kittens running around, greatly enhancing your drinking experience.
Coffee Cost: 3/5 Heating: 2.5/5 Loiterability: 5/5 Overall score: 3.5/5
CABLE CAFE 8 Brixton Rd, London SW9 6BU
While a sister cafe of Scooter, it is not a fair fight because they have no kittens. However, with its killer weekly jazz showcase, Cable Cafe stands out with its own charm. With a similar vibe to Scooter, it earns extra points for being more tucked away in South London. If you stay long enough, they might even offer you some free pastries at the end of the day out of pity. I appreciate the array of seating options as well. One day you may feel like a tall bar chair, and another like a large comfortable armchair. It is up to you!
Coffee Cost: 3/5 Heating: 2.5/5 Loiterability: 4.5/5 Overall score: 3.3/5
CAFE Z BAR 58 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 7PB
A breakfast place and a coffee house all in one. You might think that the shop has ended, but it keeps on going like a magic box. While you may be intimidated by all the open laptops and heavy typing happening around you, I assure you it's nothing more than a scare tactic that finance bros are trying to enforce. Despite the hustle of open laptops and fervent typing, the atmosphere remains welcoming. They make a mean cappuccino and can recommend the salad combo if you get hungry from loitering for so long. I sometimes wonder if they have ever accidentally closed the shop with customers still inside because it's so large.
Coffee Cost: 3/5
Overall score: 4.3/5
This concludes my list of the top 6 coffee shops in London where you can loiter and enjoy a warm, cozy atmosphere while paying a fortune for coffee. The declared winner is Candid Cafe. Now, you have to visit them all and grill me if you don't agree!
Edited by Fathima Jaffar, Food and Drink Editor