Wandering around Clerkenwell on a chilly Saturday afternoon looking for a good cup of coffee – seek and ye shall find:

Music.
Coffee.
Bagels.

It used to be Clerkenwell Records, but a few years back, in a bid to give their customers more than just the music element that defined them, this little independent store added coffee, bagels and pastries to their offering.

Brill, Exmouth Market

Not only that, they stock a range of CDs that I’d gladly add to my collection in its entirety – from The Band, Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright and Pixies to Curtis Mayfield, Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane plus more recent releases from Broken Bells, The XX, Lauren Pritchard and Rumer. A sign on the wall notes they can order most recent releases in within a couple of days for you if they don’t stock it already.

Along with all this come knowledgeable and helpful staff – a young-ish gentleman came in looking for a gift for a twelve year old girl and was deftly steered away from Duffy and towards the new release from Rumer.

The staff are also encouraged to write reviews for their favourite CDs. You’ll find them hand-written and taped to the front of selected cases – Beirut’s Gulag Orkestar and Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago are two I found and for me, were the personal touches that make me want to buy my music there.

Aside from all that, the coffee is goo-ood.

But none of this is why I’m writing about the place. I’m a bit of an avid foursquare user and a check-in at Brill, Exmouth Market, revealed a special offer: Free coffee with any CD purchase over £10.

It’s not the free coffee so much as the ethos that goes with it – the embracing of change to maintain their position as a traditional and independent music store. Read more…