Coffee Shops in North London – Chains.


We meet up in coffee shops from time to time and sure there are enough Starbucks, Nero’s, Costa’s etc.. around but he doesn’t like Starbucks and she doesn’t like Nero.

So we thought we would do a bit of a review periodically adding as we go.

Lets start with the biggest.




Him: I hate Starbucks! It smells in every single one, I’m not sure what of but it certainly isn’t coffee! It’s void of any atmosphere doesn’t matter which branch you go in, its all a corporate hole. The tea tastes like liquid plastic but thats being unfair to plastic, The coffee is usually cold (which is common for all of these places) and vial. The only saving grace are the Frappuccinos.

Her: I don’t mind Starbucks, I can’t say I’ve tried tea or coffee for that matter. The muffins are nice especially the multigrain and berry one and Frappuccinos are my drink of choice. My two real problems are when they ask for your name, then write down the most random name you can think of, later they shout that name and your drink is just sitting there for ages getting cold or warm as the case may be. Also they have 2 options for vegetarians and thats it ever!

Caffe Nero.

Him: I like Nero, I like the leather couches, the weird giant canvas paintings and the fact its always filled with groups of Italians (A sign they are making good coffee) I especially like the White Hot Chocolate and the cakes/muffins are good too. The only problem I have with Nero is that at times its too busy and you can’t find somewhere to sit. I have a favourite one, which has huge window where you can sit in the comfy chairs and people watch for hours.


Her: I can’t really remember much about Nero, I know they don’t have a good savory food selection which is important to me as I don’t really have a sweet tooth. The coffee is ok its not memorable.



Costa Coffee.

 Him: Where did all the Costa’s suddenly come from? A few years ago there was only about 10 in London, now there are more than Starbucks! Like Starbucks the coffees are meh, the teas are errrghh and the hot chocolate is anything but hot! They used to be good when there was so few of them, but now they are home of the three wheeled buggy brigade yuppie mums with their pajama and welly wearing brats, screaming that they don’t want a babychino. Its enough to get you out of the queue before you have even ordered.


Her: Children should be banned! Why are there children in a coffee shop? Why can’t parents control their offspring and no I don’t find it cute when they spill my drink and laugh (stupid children!) However the drinks themselves I find almost undrinkable especially if they have chocolate in them, I don’t know what they are using or doing to the drinks or the children.

Pret a Manger

Him: For me Pret is a walk in, get a coffee and then leave type of place. If you do sit down it tends to be noisy and almost like they don’t want you to take up the space. The food is ok, its certainly improved from when it was a smaller chain. Its not bad price wise and its fresh. I also like that they give away the unsold food to the homeless each night. As for the coffee, its simple filtered coffee or nothing for me. 

Her: Whenever I’m hungry I think of Pret, as the vegetarian/healthy/gluten free options are the widest. I like the fact its all freshly made, environmentally friendly and as he said the food doesn’t go to waste. The coffee is great, probably the strongest filter. The yoga bunny detox drink is yummy, the fruit smoothies are good. Yeah I like Pret!


Him: I don’t remember being in one. Ok apparently I have, I have had a smoothie from out of here which wasn’t all that, it was rather watery.. But the sandwiches are certainly good value for money and bursting with flavour. As for the coffee, I don’t honestly remember… I guess I’m gunna have to go and get one sometime soon.

Her: Ok by far I feel like this is one of the more cost effective places. A huge sandwich is about the same for a small one everywhere else. The coffee is good, the smoothies are good its consistently good. Which is no bad thing!

Coffee Republic.

Him: I really like Coffee Republic, if I had to say I had a favorite chain coffee shop, then it would be these. But or maybe because there are so few of them about, they are really consistent and make really nice coffee. Their tea is strong and a real life saver (especially at 6am – don’t ask!) and the Hot Chocolate is strong and really chocolatey. I haven’t eaten anything there, so I can’t say what that is like. The decor is much like Nero, leather and paintings and the atmosphere is pleasant enough. That is of course if you can find one of the few shops in all of London.

Her: When I was younger I used to love them, then they all disappeared, I still would like to find them, they seem to all have been replaced by Costa. I used to love the Mango and Passionfruit Iced Smoothie.


Him: I don’t know if Tinderbox is even a major chain, but there are a few of them about North London and they used to be good. The Angel N1 one started off great, quirky and unique, serving nice coffee and had air plane seats along one wall, then they got a bit big for their boots and it went the way of most coffee shops, a bit trendy and bland, until it closed down a year or so ago. It isn’t really missed.

Her: The upgraded, bigger version  was kind of quirky at first, but there was never anywhere to sit, unless you sat on those weird step things or outside in the cold  -when I smoked I had to!  The coffee was always cold, even if it was hot, it was cold! – I think I mean it had too much milk in it, even though I don’t drink milk.




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