Trio d’Or Cafe, Guilford Road WC1 (off Gray’s Inn Road)

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Opposite a Costa coffee outlet, this little local place has a couple of small tables outside and in. Sandwiches, pastries and hot food are offered along with decently made Lavazza (not my favourite brand unfortunately).

Coffee ***
£1.50
Environment ***

Damson Cafe, St Giles High St, WC2 (Tottenham Court Road tube)

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Strong, bitter-sweet espresso and great, fresh food in a smart, convenient central location. Fabulous. Remember to check out the art shop next door for modern graffiti style pieces.

Coffee ****
£1.70
Environment ****

Prufrock Coffee, 25 Leather Lane EC1 (Hatton Gardens diamond district)

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Prufrock is another gourmet coffee shop in this area offering great coffee and urban industrial chic. It does it well. More space, apparently more child-friendly, and very good tasting espresso. Staff can be a bit aloof, but not in a nasty way – just a bit distracted.

Espresso *****
£1.80
Environment ****
Service ***

The Onion Cafe, 1 Sicilian Avenue, WC1A 2QH (nr. Holborn tube / Bloomsbury Sq / British Museum)

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Small but with lots of seats – many outside on the pedestrian walkway – this little cafe is one of many on Sicilian Avenue. Sandwiches and salads are available and the staff are friendly and efficient.

Coffee *** (Lavazza, well made)
£1.90 (drink in is pricey, but you are 5 minutes from the British Museum)
Environment ***

Caffe Vergnano, Staple Inn, 337-338 High Holborn, WC1AV 7PX (Chancery Lane tube)

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“The best espresso in London” says The Times, apparently.
Well, it certainly is one of the prettiest. Made in a massive, chrome Elektra machine and served on a platter with a  goccia of water and a small chocolate, it looks great.

There are lots of tables inside and out, and friendly staff. Good place.

Coffee **** (not my favourite, but very good)
£1.90
Environment ****

Truckles, Bury Place WC1A 2JR (nr British Museum)

Lovely surroundings as this is a bistro more than a coffee shop.

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Prices reflect its location and clientele. Not cheap.

The tucked-away location is nice, with a small courtyard at the front and back, and no traffic. Escape from the tourist hordes, but might be different on a summer weekend.
Coffee also better than expected.

Coffee ***
£1.95
Environment ****

Dept of Coffee, 14-16 Leather Lane, EC1N (nr Chancery Lane, Farringdon)

Yum. Massive crema in top, bitter and dark shot underneath. Excellent coffee.

The environment is nice and funky too. Bare walls and floors with minimalist tables and chairs, and a couple of spaces to sit down and hide, or watch Leather Lane market go by through the floor to ceiling windows. Copies of fashion & design magazines (Wallpaper*) are available.

For some reason, populated by Australian baristas. Seems to be a theme now in London. Perfectly pleasant. See their website for more details.

Downside: coffee and sandwiches are eye-wateringly expensive.

Coffee ****

£2 (Ouch!)

Environment ****

Service ***

Bill’s, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2

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Can’t choose how much sugar! They only have sugar lumps, which are too large. One lump or two is the only choice.

Also: Expensive. Underwhelming coffee. Lovely shop and nice food. Just behind Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Deli near Leicester Square. Hidden, lovely square and lots of tables downstairs and up.
Coffee *** (meh)
Environment ****
£1.80