It was my junior year in undergrad when I wandered into the Espresso Royal in the Krannert Art Museum and on a whim, ordered a London Fog off the menu. I’d never had a tea latte before — and to be honest, I didn’t know that’s what it was called — but I figured I might like it because I liked Earl Grey.
Little did I know that starting that day, every year when the weather was cool, that would be my drink of choice every time I walked into a café. My love for London Fogs is borderline obsessive, though I prefer the title connoisseur. Over the last three weeks, I’ve made a dedicated (and very objective and scientific) search for good London Fogs in C-U, so you can find your favorite. There are no bad choices on this list. I think it’s entirely up to your tastes, location, and your wallets.
Aroma serves my favorite London Fog. The price for the 20 ounce ($5.43) is great. It came in a great big satisfying mug, and it really checked all the boxes for me. When I went in, the special was a Lavender Fog, but the barista assured me that it was the same thing as a London Fog. While it may not be on the normal menu, I would wager that it being on special is probably a good sign of consistency.
By far and away, it had the best foam and a great tea flavor. In fact, the tea had flavors of bergamot and tannic black tea in the Earl Grey, even against the usually powerful flavor of lavender. There was just enough lavender syrup to be sweet but not totally blow out the rest of the drink which gives Aroma’s London Fog a great balance. Just like the other cafes in town, you could get any alternate milk you like. If you’re there on a weekend, you could even get Cowboy Monkey’s excellent brunch, too. When I really have a craving for London Fog, I like going to Aroma.
6 Taylor St
M-F 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sa+Su 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve probably had the London Fog at Art Mart more times than anywhere else since it is right on my way to work. That being said, I know that they can sometimes be hit or miss; when they are good, they are great, but when they aren’t, they can be truly underwhelming. London Fog is not on the regular menu, but you can order one, and Art Mart has every alternate milk you could want. This London Fog was $5.55 for a 16 ounce.
I noticed a change on my most recent visit. Instead of a packed loose leaf tea bag (which you need extra tea to get it to continue steeping in the milk), they used a prepackaged Twining’s Earl Grey with Lavender. The effect was lackluster; I couldn’t even taste the tea since the bag had been removed before it got to me — the steep isn’t long enough. In its place was a very assertive lavender taste and the flavor of the vanilla soy milk they use — which was still pretty tasty. I felt it could have been a little sweeter. In the past when they used the loose leaf Earl Grey and put lavender syrup in it, was fantastic. If you are on the go, Art Mart is hard to beat in terms of convenience.
1705 S Prospect Ave
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cafe & Co
The first stop on my London Fog tour was Cafe & Co. London Fog wasn’t on the menu, but they do have a “milk tea latte” option that a London Fog would fall under. Lucky for me, the barista knew exactly what I wanted. I found the price to be pretty on par with other places in town $5.26 for 20 ounce. There was no soy option, so this is the one place where I got oat milk instead; they also had almond milk for those that prefer that.
I was really impressed by the foam on this guy. It was really delightful, maybe one of the best. The important thing for me was the flavor, and it didn’t disappoint in Cafe & Co’s milk tea latte. The Earl Grey flavor was strong, thanks to the loose leaf tea that was packed into the bag. The drink wasn’t overwhelmed by the sweetener, yet it was still sweet enough that the black tea didn’t totally overwhelm, either. It was hard to tell, but the sweetener was probably vanilla since the sweetness was so mild, and the more dominant flavor of the tea took precedence. I think the London Fog at Cafe & Co is a great option for those who don’t have a huge sweet tooth and for those who really enjoy the flavor of tea.
Cafeteria and Company
208 W Main
M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa+Su 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Kopi is a Champaign standby, and their London Fog is no different. This is the first place in town that reliably has a London Fog on the menu. While the price for a 20 ounce is the steepest by far (6.40 without tax), its 16 ounce is on par with Art Mart’s $5.55 20 ounce. I actually tried Kopi twice: once at the Downtown location and the other at their campus location in the Business Instructional Facility (BIF). I was extremely pleased to find the quality was consistent across both locations, and it has been on my other visits as well. They have every alternate milk you could want.
Kopi uses loose leaf Earl Grey, and uniquely, they use neither vanilla nor lavender syrup but honey. The effect was the sweetest London Fog on this list — and a particularly soothing one. It can overwhelm the tea flavor on rare occasions, but in general, I find the Earl Grey shines through. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you may want to ask them to go easy on the honey. The foam was really nice and strong, and I really like the London Fog at Kopi. Kopi is a great option for anyone that likes their drinks sweet, just doesn’t like lavender, or wants a reliable local place on campus (or Downtown) for a London Fog.
109 N Walnut St
M-Su 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
515 E Gregory St
M-Th 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
F 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Paradiso’s London fog actually really reminded me of the one I got at Cafe & Co. The price was good for a 12 ounce at $3.55, but it was their largest option to sit down and enjoy. Flavor-wise, it was very much tea forward, just like Cafe & Co, with the drink’s sweetness from a flavored syrup. I would guess this one was lavender though, perhaps not particularly strong as it was hard to tell if it was lavender or vanilla. Paradiso has a London Fog on the menu, sort of; they have a London Smog which is a London Fog with a shot of espresso in it. It’s very much in the same vein as a dirty chai.
What this means is that the baristas definitely know what a London Fog is and how to make it! If you’re a coffee lover and you need that extra caffeine, you’re in luck. The foam was great, and while I personally could do with a little more sweetness, this is a great choice if you prefer that it be more mild. If you are closer to campus and seeking a tea-forward, mildly sweet London Fog, Paradiso should be your go to.
801 S Lincoln Ave
M-F 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sa+Su 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.