Fernandez and Wells
I first came across Fernandez and Wells when I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. The next time I encountered the cafe was inside Somerset House with the Courtauld Institute of Art. My two favorite things in close proximity! Art! Espresso! And then it occurred to me that Fernandez and Wells must have some kind of covert connection with the art world. Regardless, let me talk first about their espresso because I dig it. The founders of these cafes, Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells, apparently were brought together in the first place by a love of coffee at the Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden. And their dedication to good coffee alongside their stellar selections of meat, cheeses, and pastries shines through at every Fernandez and Wells location. The espresso almost every time (as their own Fernandez and Wells roast, with some Has Bean single origins) was pretty chocolatey and well-rounded out. Although I epically failed to take a good picture of the beautiful location at Somerset House, it is honestly one of the most spacious and beautiful cafes I've seen. And the sandwiches. Damn. All so simple (3 ingredients or less, it seemed), but so flavorful! Needless to say, I returned many times, as I frequented those museums a lot anyways. Fernandez and Wells also has a selection of wines that must be good if they are competing with the rest of their food and drink.
Recommend: Blue cheese and mushroom toastie. Or anything. And the Courtauld Gallery! Go see the magnificent collection of Impressionist artists and more.
Note: No WiFi there that I know of.
Price: Coffee $$ and Food/Wine $$$
Vibe: Depends, but usually business-meeting type people around lunch time and it varies on each location
Espresso Rating: 8.5/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
Hours: I am far too lazy to put different hours for six locations
Addresses: Strand, WC2R 1LA (Somerset House); 8 Exhibition Road, SW7 2HF (Near V&A)
Other locations that I have not visited: 1-3 Denmark Street, WC2H 8LP; 55 Duke Street, W1K 5NR; 43 Lexington street, W1F 9AL; 73 Beak Street, W1F 9SR