Coffee Stories - Brill

Brill was originally opened as a record store back in 1999. As time passed, CD purchases started declining. For this reason, in 2011 they had a radical change and became one of the greatest coffee shops in Clarkenwell. Jeremy Brill, the owner of the cafe, reveals insights and provides tips how to make your business work.

What are the main values of Brill?

Brill is a small place but builds truly genuine relationship with its customers who come to have their coffee three, four times a day at some cases. It is about the community and friendships.

Additionally, people enjoy staying here because of quality food, simple familiar atmosphere and excellent music, which has a major impact on the mood.

Multinational staff is a major part of Brill’s success. Every one of them adds a little something making the place global. We have girls from Melbourne, Australia or Verona, Italy. Brill represents London, which fundamentally is a world city.

Are there any special features hidden from the client’s eye?

Well, to begin with, every CD is there for a reason. It is either a really good piece of work, an unknown artist which must be heard of or something that has to be listen to, because if not - you are missing out.

Additionally, every morning I ride my bicycle to collect 100 pieces of fresh bagel bread from Brick Lane Bakery. It is just the best bakery in London.

The coffee is brought from local roasters as well. Union Hand Roasted Coffee were very helpful and encouraging then we opened Brill. I have been being beans from them ever since. They are ethical with the farmers, which I really appreciate as well.

Tell us the brightest memory from Brill.

It probably is then I have invited Alela Diane to perform for us. I have only heard couple of songs from her album at the time, but really liked it. I asked if she could sing at one of our live performance shows. She was great, as expected. Later she won the bast album of the year. Truly special personality.

What would you recommend for those who aim to open an independent coffee shop in London?

Do it only if you care about it and have genuine love for coffee. Do not try to follow any kind of formula, people can see through that. If you try to be too clever, things will eventually go wrong. Take care of the quality instead of popular design. Just be yourself and never loose it.

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