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Two legendary Soho cafes made the list of most beautiful coffee shops in the world

Two of Soho’s most well-loved and most iconic cafes have appeared in the top five of a list featuring the most beautiful coffee shops in the world. 

According to The Telegraph‘s rankings, Soho’s long-standing Bar Italia is the third ‘most beautiful cafe on earth’. The neon-lit gem of a coffee shop opened in 1949, pre-empting the 1950s West End coffee craze inspired by the area’s Italian expats. Bar Italia is authentically cluttered and serves Italian-style coffee from a vintage Gaggia Coffee machine from 7am until 4am on 22 Frith Street. It’s not hard to see why it’s become a hub for London’s Italian community (and post-service hospitality workers).  

This coffee bar is both a symbol of London’s multiculturality and British pop culture history. Bar Italia inspired a stage musical written partly by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart; rock band Pulp wrote a song about the cafe and film producer Jeremy Thomas had a portrait painted of him standing in front of it.  

As well as coffee, the old Italian cafe offers sandwiches, pastries, booze, and a bit of escapism. 

Algerian Coffee Stores earned fourth place out of 50 cafes on the list and like Bar Italia, it is beloved for its atmosphere. Upon entering this tiny takeaway coffee store, you’ll feel as though you’ve just stepped inside a coffee bean. It smells great.

The ‘intensely aromatic’ shop is bursting with beans, teas, confectionaries, and accessories and sells freshly roasted bags of 96 different coffee blends. There’s no seating in this coffee cupboard, but customers are welcome to stand and sip a single shot at a reasonable £1.20 or £1.50 for an extra dose of caffeine.  

The store was originally opened in 1887 by an Algerian man named Mr Hassan and stayed open through two world wars. After changing owners for the second time in the 1940s, Algerian Coffee Stores has remained in the same family for three generations and the staff really know their stuff. 

If you’re looking for a coffee-coated place to hide from the rain, the shop operates at 52 Old Compton Street from Monday to Saturday, opening at 10am and closing at 6pm or 7pm depending on the day. 

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