Brill, 27 Exmouth Market (Clerkenwell)

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Brill “music coffee bagels” is an informal little place for decent coffee in a street full of decent places. Two tables inside and three out mean there’s not much space, but it’s a nice vibe – very bohemian.

Coffee. ****
£1.80
Environment ***

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Caravan, 11 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QD

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On the corner of Exmouth Market, opposite the Cafe Nero, is this spacious licensed café full of well dressed architect-types – relaxed open shirts, jeans, expensive tweedy blazer and thick-rimmed glasses (for the men). Good, very short coffee. Complimentary glass of water (nice touch that you get in upmarket places). 14 tables and some stools. Windows all round and some benches outside. It’s also a bar, with food and a wide range of drinks. Nice, efficient staff.

So I don’t know why I felt it was a bit soulless?

(I’d come back again, though).

Coffee ****
£2.00
Environment ****

Veneticus, 97-99 Clerkenwell Rd (nr. Farringdon / Hatton Garden Market)

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A ‘proper’ Italian cafe, this serves alcoholic drinks, sandwiches and pasta as well as a range of pastries and ice creams, cold meats and biscotti.

It even has bottles of Amaro  liquor.

Needless to say, the espresso is excellent.

With 10 or so tables, a small number of seats against the window, and even a couple of tables squeezing onto the side of the busy road outside, there’s plenty to enjoy. Perhaps not somewhere to stretch out and relax (although there is Wifi if you need to work or surf), but a great place nonetheless.

Coffee *****
£1.60
Environment ****
Others **** (ice cream, beer & wine, Italian banter…)

Tito’s, Exmouth Street

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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 ***
£1.40
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 ****
£1.20
Environment ***