As I watch delicate snowflakes flit and float their way down onto my windowsill topiary bushes and accumulate on the church shingles across the way, I’m listening to the Vince Guaraldi Trio‘s cool, coffee-house jazzy spin on Christmas. If I owned a box of hot cocoa mix, I’d be making it right now. Instead, I think I’ll venture round the corner to Starbucks after this post, where I might also risk temptation by their seasonal egg-nog latte. Decisions, decisions…

In any case, while Starbucks is perhaps not the most London-y choice I could make, it’s the laziest one I could by virtue of proximity to my London apartment. Yes, even after moving here, in the absence of Caribou Coffee in the UK it is my takeaway option of choice for that aforementioned reason (“takeaway” is British English for “carry-out,” by the way—and in London if you order it to drink on site, they’ll actually serve you in those giant coffee mugs they only seem to sell in the States). Though I must say I’ve grown quite fond of the coffee chains available here and only wish there was one closer for these days when I just want to be in-and-out so I can snuggle in at home. London’s-own Costa Coffee serves up my favorite hot chocolate (and you gotta love a business with monkeys in its tv advert), and Caffe Nero, Britain’s answer to authentic Italian coffee, makes a deelish white chocolate mocha.

My personal favorite coffee shop in London is The Troubadour in Earls Court. Retaining the bohemian essence of a 1950s coffee shop, it’s a dark and cozy refuge decked out in vintage instruments, teapot, signs, and art, perfect for when you are in no rush whatsoever…just sip your coffee or cocktail in slo-mo and watch the world rush around outside, day or night. And if you fancy live music, their venue downstairs is renowned for hosting greats like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. A couple other spots of choice that are right outside London Relocation’s office are 202 Café (I spotted Maggie Gyllenhaal there once!) and Tom’s Deli on Westbourne Grove—love their cappuccinos. I also had a delightful coffee catch-up with girlfriends yesterday at Charlie’s Portobello Road Café in Notting Hill.

One of those girlfriends, in fact, just passed on this great resource for finding that optimal coffee-drinking experience: A blog dedicated to independent coffee shops throughout Britain, it’s ideal not only for a move to London, but your travels around England and Scotland thereafter.

And if you’re opting to just stay tucked inside your apartment, take your coffee to the next level and do it the European way with either a French press or Italian-designed stove-top espresso maker. First of all, it spares you buying one more UK-compatible appliance when your one from home doesn’t adapt to the voltage, and, second, it’ll offer you a richness that’ll make you spit on American-style filtered coffee.

Once you go European black (coffee), you never go back ;).

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