In Soho, a district more noted for its neon-lit nightlife and modernity, a red storefront houses a coffee store chock full of old-school charm, from the original 19th-century wooden counter to the oodles of jars lining the shelves.
The shop, Algerian Coffee Stores (yes, it’s plural), was opened in 1887 by a merchant from Algeria named “Mr. Hassan.” It is a testament to his keen eye for business that the shop he founded has somehow managed to survive the Blitz, numerous financial crises, and 21st-century gentrification. Today, you can find a wide array of beans that overwhelm with their enticing aromas from distant lands such as Ethiopia, Cuba, Kenya, Colombia, Java, and more. The coffees range from Kona, a rare variety from the volcanic soils of Hawaiʻi’s Big Island, to the precious, pricey Jamaican Blue Mountain. If you are more of a tea person, there are also hundreds of varieties, from Japanese Genmaicha green tea to Indian Nilgiri Pekoe tea to good, old Argentinian mate.
If you can’t wait to take your leaves or beans home and need to satisfy your caffeine fix immediately, the shop also makes espresso and cappuccino. While there is no sit-down area, the drinks—at £1 and £1.20 respectively—are some of the cheapest you’ll find in the city.