Nude Espresso Roasters, Hanbury St (Spitalfields/Brick Lane)

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I’ve not been in this part of London for months, and it’s lunchtime, so many café places have queues out the door. I’m lucky enough to wander into the cavernous Nude Espresso Roasters for a lovely, dark, bitter but in a nice way espresso.

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There are two big tables and benches at both windows. 60s hits play. It’s nice.

Coffee *****
£2
Environment ***

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The Vape Lab, 232 Shoreditch High St (Shoreditch station)

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Well, this was short and sticky and went down so nicely that there was nothing left to picture except the cute little beaker it was served in.

The shop specialises in vaping – alternatives to real cigarettes. It’s new – only open a few weeks when I visited – and smells faintly of strawberry. Like a hookah café.

There are 4 tables and a small bench, and the inside is very pleasant. Coffee is excellent. Worth stopping off at, even if you’ve no intention of trying any of the vapours.

Coffee ****
£1.90
Environment ****

Pitfield, 31-35 Pitfield St, Hoxton / Shoreditch

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Half furniture shop, half café, Pitfield is a curious mash-up with food, drink, pizza and futons. Imagine going to Habitat or Heal’s and sitting down in the display to eat. But it works. I’ll definitely come back.

The coffee is long and weak – very ‘French’ – but perfectly pleasant. It’s not the cheapest, but there are more expensive options nearby too.

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Coffee ***
£2.15
Environment ****
Others **** (food & furniture – though it’s not licenced)

Shoreditch Grind, Old St Roundabout

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Well, at £2.20 for the cheapest espresso it’s hardly a low cost option, and the two wood tables and benches around the windows provide only wooden stools and chairs, so comfort’s not premium.

Service (on a Sunday morning) is business-like rather than friendly, and so slow that a croissant and espresso took nearly 15 minutes to be brought to the table (there were probably four orders ahead of mine). In fact, I had to remind staff of the food order. So it has to be the coffee that justifies the price tag. Right?

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Well, it’s nice – treacle-ish and powerful. It’s good coffee. But overall, this place was very hard to love.

Coffee ****
£2.20
Environment **
Others ** (service & speed were poor)

Ruby, Hoxton Square

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More a cafe / restaurant than strictly a coffee shop, it’s a friendly little place with about 10 tables inside, and half that number outside in a small patio overlooking the famous square.

It appears to offer Caffe Vergnano coffee but I found it disappointingly weak. Not unpleasant, just not brilliant. Ah well – the good food at decent prices made up for it.

Coffee ***
£1.80
Environment ****
Others **** (food, drink and vibe – you’re in hipster heaven, after all)

Four Seasons Hotel bar, Westferry Circus, E14 (Canary Wharf / Westferry DLR)

If you are lucky enough to be at the Four Seasons Hotel in Canary Wharf, then be prepared for a pleasant coffee surprise. The bar in the main reception can make you a fabulous ‘ristretto’ style espresso – ask for Cataldo, the Sicilian-Canadian barman if he’s available.

The coffee is thick, short and strong, so you’ll probably want to ask for a glass of water to help wash it down.

Coffee *****
Environment *** (fancy hotel reception style…pleasant but bland)
Cost – I didn’t like to ask! I’d guess £2.50 (it was added to a tab…)

Cilantro, Broadgate Tower, EC2 (edge of City)

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Independent and decent sandwich shop, with nice-enough coffee and not-as-nice prices, as they add VAT or service charge if you sit in. Shame. Good seats and friendly, sit upstairs for quiet, or outside if it’s warm. Best of local area independents, but will perhaps struggle against Pret and Eat chains.
Coffee ***
£1.75 (inc. VAT) sitting in