Coffee Spot Awards 2014

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Merry Christmas to all my followers old and new! I hope you had a good day yesterday and didn’t have too much to eat/drink. As 2014 comes to an end, I can’t believe how time has flown by. It really doesn’t seem like a year ago that I was doing the 2013 awards. Despite that, it’s been a packed year, with even more Coffee Spots than ever visited and written about.

With that in mind, it’s time to look back on 2014 with the third Annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. Once again there are 20 Awards, although I’ve changed a few things since last year. The shortlists for each of the 20 Awards were published between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, with the winners announced on New Year’s Day.

Thank you to everyone who has visited the Coffee Spot this year, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page or +1ed me on Google+. While I do this for the love of great coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you reading what I write, it really would be pointless.

Before we go on, check out who won what in last year’s Awards in the gallery.

  • Tinderbox, Islington: Where It All Began
  • Attendant: Most Unlikely Place to find a Coffee Spot
  • Cafe Mila: Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot
  • Kahawa Cafe: Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop
  • Pink Lane Coffee: Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station
  • Pikolo Espresso Bar: Best Overseas Coffee Spot
  • Vagabond N7: Best Espresso
  • Flat Caps Coffee: Best Filter Coffee
  • Bean About Town, Kentish Town: Best Takeaway Coffee
  • Coffee Charisma: Best Coffee Bean Retailer
  • White Mulberries: Happiest Staff
  • Caffeine Magazine: Best Saturday Supplement
  • I Am Coffee: Smallest Coffee Spot
  • The Plan Cafe: Best Physical Space
  • Hart's Bakery: Best Cake
  • The Bristolian: Best Breakfast
  • 9Bar Coffee: Best Cheese Toastie
  • Workhouse Coffee, King Street, Reading: Most Passionate About Coffee
  • Southsea Coffee Co: Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award
  • Look Mum No Hands' South Bank pop-up: Most Popular
Tinderbox, Islington: Where It All Began1 Attendant: Most Unlikely Place to find a Coffee Spot2 Cafe Mila: Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot3 Kahawa Cafe: Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop4 Pink Lane Coffee: Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station5 Pikolo Espresso Bar: Best Overseas Coffee Spot6 Vagabond N7: Best Espresso7 Flat Caps Coffee: Best Filter Coffee8 Bean About Town, Kentish Town: Best Takeaway Coffee9 Coffee Charisma: Best Coffee Bean Retailer10 White Mulberries: Happiest Staff11 Caffeine Magazine: Best Saturday Supplement12 I Am Coffee: Smallest Coffee Spot13 The Plan Cafe: Best Physical Space14 Hart's Bakery: Best Cake15 The Bristolian: Best Breakfast16 9Bar Coffee: Best Cheese Toastie17 Workhouse Coffee, King Street, Reading: Most Passionate About Coffee18 Southsea Coffee Co: Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award19 Look Mum No Hands' South Bank pop-up: Most Popular20
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An elite panel of judges (me) gathered in a secret location (my house) and spent literally minutes considering the following awards. The shortlists will be published between now and New Year’s Eve, with the winners announced on New Year’s Day.

However, before I introduce the awards, a few statistics about 2014:

I published 162 articles (up from 122 last year) on the Coffee Spot (not including this one!). This included (last year’s numbers in brackets):

  • 99 Coffee Spots (97)
  • 11 Saturday Spots (5)
  • 2 Saturday Shorts (3)
  • 11 Coffee Spot Updates (2)
  • 4 Meet the Roasters (1)
  • 35 Saturday Supplements (15)

As I write, the Coffee Spot has over 90,000 views this year, twice as many as 2013. This is an average of 250 per day (up from 115 per day in 2013). Just over 43,000 of you have visited the Coffee Spot (up from 23,000 last year) from 142 countries (110 in 2013), with 81% of you coming from the UK (same as last year!).

There are three changes to the awards this year. I’ve retired the Where It All Began and Best Cheese Toastie Awards, replacing them with the Best Outdoor Seating and Best Basement Awards. I’ve also expanded the Best Retailer Awards to include Best Roaster. So, without further ado, let’s see what the award categories are this year (you can see the shortlists as they are released by clicking on the title of each award):

Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot (2013 Winner: Attendant)

Let’s face it, go to big cities such as London, Edinburgh and Bristol and you expect to find good Coffee Spots. However, good Coffee Spots are everywhere, and some of them are in very unexpected places… This can either be geographically or in the Coffee Spot’s setting.

Best Takeaway Coffee (2013 Winner: Bean About Town, Kentish Town)

Takeaway coffee is tricky. Often the elements are against you and the surroundings might not be the nicest, so this award recognises those Coffee Spots who produce outstanding coffee against the odds.

Coffee Spot with the Best Basement (New for 2014)

Regular readers with know that I have a soft spot for Coffee Spots with great basements, so I thought it about time that I acknowledged that with an award. Although this is new for 2014, a special mention has to go to Foxcroft & Ginger which would have won the 2013 Award, had it been in existence!

Coffee Shop Most Resembling a Coffee Shop (2013 Winner: Kahawa Cafe)

I know. What a silly title for an award. But think about it. We all have that ideal of what a coffee shop should be, even if part of the joy is that great coffee spots come in all shapes and sizes. However, this award is for those Coffee Spots which look, well, just how you imagine they should look!

Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (2013 Winner: Café Mila)

A lot of the best Coffee Spots are those that are firmly rooted in their neighbourhoods, places that serve and reflect their local communities. This award is for them.

Best Filter Coffee (2013 Winner: Flat Caps Coffee)

One of the revelations of 2014 for me was that filter coffee wasn’t that over-brewed, stewed muck that bad coffee chains serve out of urns. It’s actually an amazing, delicate drink that has opened my eyes to a whole new world of coffee, a journey of discovery that has continued in 2014. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which have helped me on my journey.

Best Outdoor Seating (New for 2014)

This award focuses on those Coffee Spots which provide the best environment for sitting outside.  The Coffee Spot itself doesn’t have to be outside; anything with a decent outside seating area qualifies!

Best Saturday Supplement (2013 Winner: Caffeine Magazine)

The Saturday Supplement is the place where I write about coffee and events without writing about specific places. This award recognises the best of them (note that Saturday Supplements where it’s just me writing about stuff aren’t included; this award is for the things I am writing about, not me!).

Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station (2013 Winner: Pink Lane Coffee)

When you’re desperate for good coffee, stuck in a railway station is rarely the best place to be. But what if there was a great Coffee Spot just outside the station or a few minutes’ walk away and you didn’t know about it? Then this award is for you…

Best Espresso (2013 Winner: Vagabond N7)

When it comes down to it, I tend to judge a coffee spot by the quality of its espresso. Of course, this is entirely subjective and down to taste. I would never knock a place that made a good espresso just because it wasn’t to my taste. This award is for those Coffee Spots which served me the best and most memorable espressos of 2014.

Smallest Coffee Spot (2013 Winner: I Am Coffee)

I have a special place in my heart for small coffee spots and 2014 continued to be full of them. Note that this is all subjective – I did not get my tape measure out at any point!

Best Cake (2013 Winner: Hart’s Bakery)

It’s not all about the coffee you know (despite what the tag line says). What would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.

Best Roaster/Retailer (2013 Winner: Coffee Charisma)

While the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I drink the majority of my coffee at home. Previously this award was Best Bean Retailer, but this year I’ve expanded it to include those wonderful people who roast my coffee beans.

Best Overseas Coffee Spot (2013 Winner: Pikolo Espresso Bar)

2013 saw the Coffee Spot head outside of mainland Great Britain for the first time and this continued in 2014 with trips to the USA, France and Dublin! I know it’s not quite the rest of the world, but I’m getting there. This award celebrates the best Coffee Spots from outside of the UK.

Best Physical Space (2013 Winner: The Plan)

For me, a Coffee Spot is as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel as it is about the coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in.

Happiest Staff (2013 Winner: White Mulberries)

I think that staff are probably the most over-looked part of any Coffee Spot. Good staff can make a place and bad staff, no matter how great the coffee and wonderful the location, can kill a place. Everywhere that features in the Coffee Spot has great staff, but these were exceptional.

Best Breakfast (2013 Winner: The Bristolian)

Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart, so-much-so that I started the Saturday Spot so that I could write about Coffee Spots where the coffee wasn’t up to much, but where the breakfasts were to die for!

Most Passionate About Coffee (2013 Winner: Workhouse Coffee, King Street)

It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. In fact, everyone who has been covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.

Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2013 Winner: Southsea Coffee Co)

This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love…

Most Popular Coffee Spot (2013 Winner: Look Mum No Hands South Bank Pop-up)

And finally, this is the only award not decided by me. It’s the award that will be given to the Coffee Spot which received the greatest number of views (according to JetPack) in the calendar year 2014.


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22 thoughts on “Coffee Spot Awards 2014

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