Bean Scene

Clerkenwell does great design, and great coffee. Katy Salter picks the best places to get a cutting-edge caffeine fix during Clerkenwell Design Week


Caffeine-heads, cycling fans and local designers all love Look Mum No Hands. This cafe and cycling repair workshop on Old Street with bike wheels dangling from the ceiling is always heaving – whether it’s with people dropping in for an early morning Square Mile espresso, a pie at lunch, or a beer in front of the big screen which shows films and cycling. Look Mum No Hands, 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX.


Workshop has taken Clerkenwell’s coffee scene to the next level. This impressive two-storey space on Clerkenwell Road boasts its own coffee roaster and a living plant wall. Perch on a stool at the wrap-around bar, or linger over a flat white and a friand at one of the communal tables. The weekend brunch and dinner offerings are pretty special too – we’re fans of the excellent Dexter burger, topped with Comte cheese and served in a brioche bun. Workshop Coffee, 27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RN.


Hidden down Farringdon Lane, 22-26 is a peaceful space to sit and plan your day at CDW over a coffee and a gourmet sarnie. The cafe is housed in old railway arches, and seating is a mix of brightly-coloured Eames chairs and comfy benches that hug the walls. There are regular art exhibitions in the gallery space, too.
22-26 Farringdon Lane, EC1R 3AJ


Brill does three things brilliantly – coffee, bagels and music. This tiny cafe-slash-record shop on Exmouth Market is a real local favourite. Jeremy Brill and his friendly team serve up strong flat whites and macchiatos made with Union Coffee Roasters beans. Grab a bagel to go (crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside just as they should be) and don’t leave without checking out the thoughtfully-curated collection of used and new CDs displayed in wooden boxes on the left wall of the cafe. Brill, 27 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL.


Caravan’s winning formula of minimalist and industrial decor, potent coffee and delicious food has been much imitated but never bettered. The Exmouth Market stalwart is a brilliant place to sit and people-watch during CDW, thanks to its outdoor seating and big picture windows. Skilled baristas serve coffee roasted in the in-house roasting machine, while the menu has a global feel – using fresh, zesty ingredients in unexpected ways. We love the avocado on toast and the falafel with apple and pepper relish. Caravan, 11-13 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QD.


Dose Espresso, just south of Smithfield Market, is in the little black books of most London coffee lovers. It was one of the first Antipodean coffee houses in the capital when it opened in 2007, and soon built up a cult following. Dose’s flat whites, made with Square Mile beans, remain among the best in town and there’s an ever-changing list of guest coffees, all ethically sourced. Dose Espresso, 70 Long Lane, EC1A 9EJ.