The awning reads: ‘Music. Coffee. Bagels.’ That lays out the essentials succinctly. Brill began life as a music shop, and music is still ‘an integral part of what we do’. There’s always something good playing, and CDs and a few vinyl oddments, with the emphasis on jazz, blues, folk and rock, are for sale inside the small interior. Then there’s the coffee, which accounts for 80% of Brill’s revenue. Supplied by Union Coffee Roasters, it’s best in milky form – the Union espresso blend is pretty assertive stuff.
What’s more, our Brill espresso was not brilliantly made: thinnish brew, lifeless crema. But Brill makes it easy to forgive an occasional deficient cup. The staff are incredibly friendly, always ready for a gab if you want one, and the musical component is pure pleasure. Which leaves only the bagels to explain: fillings of smoked salmon, cream cheese, ham, houmous, and so on, at exceedingly reasonable prices. Appealing baked goods are supplied by an imaginative woman named Arianna. Her delicious ‘everything’ cookie even includes fragments of pretzel. We’ll be back, for that warm welcome, great music and (we hope) a flawless espresso.