Holborn Grind, 199 High Holborn WC1V

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Part coffee bar, part evening cocktail bar. Nice sandwiches on offer. Like Carluccios: fat focaccia and salamis. Expensive though, and only about 5 small tables and a bar at the window.

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When I have visited, there seemed more staff than customers – and then hundreds more customers than the small size could cope. Worth dropping in when you are in the area. There are others nearby (not as many as there used to be), but this has a cool vibe.

Coffee ****
£2.20
Environment ****

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Espresso Bar, Floral St. WC2 (nr Covent Garden & Leicester Sq)

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Espresso Bar is a decent little modern coffee shop just off the main shopping streets linking Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

It’s partly an espresso bar, partly sandwich shop with ice cream, and partly a coffee equipment shop. So if you’re in the area and need a new Bugatti espresso machine, a Bodium flask, a latte and an ice cream, then this is your one stop! (And let’s face it, if you’re shopping in Covent Garden it’s not an impossible combination).

They brew a great little Andronica’s espresso – one of my favourites. There are three small tables and a long bench, so not a lot of sitting – although there may be decent seating outside in warmer weather.

A good place to relax for couples out shopping, though children will probably wreck havoc with the displays.

Coffee ****
£1.50 (pleasant surprise)
Environment ***
Others **** (food, ice cream and coffee machines)

The Espresso Room, Great Ormond St

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Bijoux like a London studio apartment, The Espresso Room is opposite the famous children’s hospital serving top-notch coffee blends alongside snacks – pastries and sandwiches. Lovely smooth and strong espresso in a tiny glass (much smaller than it appears), it’s a lovely place to spend five minutes. Four small wooden benches allow a few people to stop and sit, but the shop is only 6 feet wide and 10 feet long so no real space to move.

Coffee *****
£1.80
Environment ***

(Closed) APT58, Centrepoint, Tottenham Court Rd.

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Only £1 for an espresso, and cooler than a polar bear’s mojito, this ‘destination’ offers fashion, a bar, music and decent Illy coffee.

Laid out lounges and sofas, and artwork that could grace a 1980s bachelor pad; but I quite like it – and there are few decent alternatives nearby. It feels like you’ve wandered into New York by accident.

Like: vibe, wifi, great prices. Almost a place to be seen in.

Dislike: heavy traffic by the tables outside, naked artwork.

Coffee ***
£1.00
Environment *****

Sacred, 13 Ganton St, off Carnaby St. (Oxford Circus)

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This bustling shopping area, with its associations with the swinging sixties London, is likely to be an expensive place for a decent coffee. Luckily, Sacred make a pretty decent cup. They also have some tables inside and outside that let you watch the (very fashionable) world go by, and there is no traffic to worry about.

Coffee: ***
£2.00
Environment: ***

Tesoro Gelateria, 39 Goodge Street (nr Goodge St tube)

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Ice cream is the theme here – proper Italian ice cream. So where better to get a proper Italian espresso too?

Italian voices ring around the shop too – this is no ersatz copy, but the real thing.

So the coffee is excellent, I am relieved to say. Thick but not syrupy, short but not a smear. Full of rich flavour and textures. And for £1.40, a decent price for somewhere just 5 minutes off Oxford Street.

The shop is narrow but has a bench and about 5 high chairs. Downstairs there’s a lot more space, and tables. It looks clean, new and modern – very pleasant.

Coffee *****
£1.40
Environment ****
Others: lots of ice cream!

Soho Joe, Dean St. (Tottenham Ct Rd / Soho)

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Anywhere with a free croissant with every hot drink before noon is a find, especially this central in London. With an espresso a reasonable £1.50, free newspapers and lots of tables and food, it’s got to be one of the most complete coffee offerings in London. Enjoy!

Coffee ***
£1.50
Environment *****
Others **** (food and even alcoholic drinks)

Rossodisera, 3 Monmouth St, WC2H 9DA (nr Neal’s Yard & Covent Garden)

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Nice and convenient Italian cafe-restaurant at the end of Monmouth Street.

If you’re in the area for coffee alone, then Monmouth Coffee is the obvious option just up the road – but if you want food, drink and a very Italian feel, Rossodisera is a better choice.

Coffee ****
£1.50
Environment ***
Others **** (food and drink)