Carter Lane Coffee House, Carter Lane EC4 ( St Paul’s Cathedral / Blackfriars tubes)


Carter Lane, an area near St Paul’s which “has more lawyers than people” according to a sign in a barber’s window, also has some decent coffee.

This new (at time of writing – October 2012) little shop is barely more than a coffee machine, some pastries, and a bench at the window for sitting.

But that coffee machine is one of best in the world, and it makes a delicious smooth espresso.

So, as far as I am concerned, this new Carter Lane resident can stay.

Coffee *****
Environment ***

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


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 *****
Environment ****
Service ***

Tito’s, Exmouth Street


Tito’s is a decent, friendly little Spanish-speaking place in a convenient location. About eight small tables inside and a further few in the pedestrianised street outside, they serve a good variety of sandwiches and pastries, and also hot food like burritos and pasta. Unfortunately, the day I was there, the almond croissants were stale. Shame.

Coffee ***
Environment ***

El Vino, Bridge Street EC4 (Blackfriars)

El Vino, Blackfriars

This is a hidden gem more suited to wine-lovers than coffee gourmands, but I love the environment and surrounds.

You are somewhere between a traditional Englishman’s Club and a Parisian cafe, with row on row of wines available behind the bar.

There are selections of tapas and sandwiches, and a waitress service area for hot food.

The coffee is bearable – quite “French” in style – but the atmosphere more than compensates.

Coffee **
Environment *****
Others: great wines, beers and a selection of food available. Totally off the beaten track – you may be the only one in there.

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


“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)
Environment ****

Free Word Cafe, 60 Farringdon Road.

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Small and new, this cafe is not obvious, on the ground floor of an office block. However it does a great little Illy and, with 4 tables inside and 4 outside, offers some respite from the noisy road. Very Italian.

Coffee ****
Environment ***