2014 Awards – Best Filter Coffee

Perhaps the nicest cup of filter coffee I've ever had from Flat Caps Coffee in Newcastle, served with the filter in place.We continue the second day with the next shortlist for the 2014 Coffee Spot Awards, the “Best Filter Coffee” Award, which was won last year by Flat Caps Coffee. A major revelation since starting the Coffee Spot is that filter coffee isn’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.

This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which continue to help me on my journey of discovery. To give you an idea of how far I have come since starting the Coffee Spot, I initially owned a cafetiere and an espresso machine and either drank my coffee at home with milk (cafetiere) or as espresso. Now I make the bulk of my coffee with my Aeropress and have a grinder dedicated to filter coffee. I always drink my filter coffee black and increasingly think that if I have to put milk in my coffee to make it drinkable, I’m drinking the wrong coffee!

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • My lovely filter coffee from Association Coffee in the heart of the City of London.
  • My Birthday Coffee Tasting at my hometown Bar des Arts.
  • Boston's Render Coffee, serving from really excellent filter coffee (and espresso too).
  • Trying a Chemex at Philadelphia's Elixr, which roasts all its own coffee too.
  • Back in Edinburgh and back at Brew Lab, where all the filter is now through the Kalita Wave.
  • Bean & Bud: Coffee (and Tea) Heaven.
  • Another coffee-shop/roaster in Philadelphia. This time it's ReAnimator, with a decaf filter.
  • The second Edinburgh Artisan Roast, this time on Bruntsfield Place.
  • The original Avenue G, on Glasgow's Bryes Road, serving up some lovely filter coffee.
  • Loustic, in Paris, effortlessly blending Parisian bar culture with third wave coffee.
My lovely filter coffee from Association Coffee in the heart of the City of London.1 My Birthday Coffee Tasting at my hometown Bar des Arts.2 Boston's Render Coffee, serving from really excellent filter coffee (and espresso too).3 Trying a Chemex at Philadelphia's Elixr, which roasts all its own coffee too.4 Back in Edinburgh and back at Brew Lab, where all the filter is now through the Kalita Wave.5 Bean & Bud: Coffee (and Tea) Heaven.6 Another coffee-shop/roaster in Philadelphia. This time it's ReAnimator, with a decaf filter.7 The second Edinburgh Artisan Roast, this time on Bruntsfield Place.8 The original Avenue G, on Glasgow's Bryes Road, serving up some lovely filter coffee.9 Loustic, in Paris, effortlessly blending Parisian bar culture with third wave coffee.10
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There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

DSC_0512Association Coffee

Association Coffee in the heart of the City of London is a lovely spot. Serving up a variety of Square Mile coffee on espresso and Aeropress, I was impressed with Rwandan single-origin I tried on my second visit. It was a coffee which lost its complexity and mellowed on cooling.

The set-up at my Birthday Coffee Tasting at Bar des Arts

Birthday Coffee Tasting

To celebrate my birthday this year, I gathered a group of friends at Guildford’s Bar des Arts where we tried three single-origin coffees from  Horsham Coffee Roaster. Each was prepared through cafetiere, V60 & Aeropress to highlight the impact of the preparation method on the taste.

The Render Coffee logo, from the sign outside. The words RENDER COFFEE above a line-drawing of an anvil.

Render Coffee

I went through most of Render Coffee’s menu during two visits as part of my time in Boston, including an espresso, a piccolo and a couple of pour-overs. The highlight was a decaf Peruvian from  Counter Culture, which mellowed and filled out as it cooled.

Render has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.

A chemex of Elixr's own single-origin coffee is being lovingly prepared.

Elixr

One of a number of Philadelphia coffee shop/roasters, Elixr is something of a legend in the fledging Philadelphia coffee scene. While I was there, there were five single-origins through the Chemex, with a house-blend and guest single-origin on espresso. I went for an El Injerto, from Guatemala, a very smooth which sweetened delightfully as it cooled.

20140426_165716Brew Lab

Edinburgh’s Brew Lab, as the name might suggest, focuses on filter coffee (although there’s a decent selection on espresso too). I returned to see how it was doing this year, when I discovered all the pour-over was being done via Kalita Wave, so I had to try some!

The Bean & Bud logo: a coffee bean flanked by two tea buds, with the motto "Bean & Bud Real Coffee & Fine Tea since 2010"

Bean & Bud

With regularly rotating beans as espresso (with/without milk) or filter (V60, Aeropress or Chemex), Bean & Bud is coffee (& tea) heaven. My Chemex of a Nicaraguan Las Minas was fantastic, with a rich mouth feel & complex flavours. Bean & Bud is also up for the Coffee Spot Special Award.

ReAnimator Coffee, painted black on a white background on the brick wall above the door.

ReAnimator

Another Philadelphia coffee shop/roaster, ReAnimator would win the “Weirdest Shape for a Coffee Shop” Award hands down if only there was one. What? The coffee? I had an excellent decaf pour-over, which evolved in flavour as it cooled.

Artisan Roast on Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh.

Artisan Roast, Bruntsfield Place

Artisan Roast has evolved since I first visited the chain, when it employed the “any bean, any method” model. Now, at Bruntsfield Place at least, the bean is tailored to the method. I had a Kenyan through the Kalita Wave which was bursting with flavour, so much so that I even got it when it was hot. As it cooled, its fruity sweetness really came to the fore, making a truly excellent cup.

The words "Avenue G" in white on black.

Avenue G, Byres Road

Avenue G is an interesting case, since when I was there, it was using Monmouth coffee, but by now it will be roasting its own. I had an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe that really rewarded the patient, coming into its own as it cooled.

The letters "Loustic" in red, with a Moka Pot balanced on top of the I.

Loustic

Effortlessly blending French café culture with speciality coffee, Loustic uses Antwerp roaster, Caffènation.  I had an El Salvador Finca Santa Ana through the V60 and it was nothing short of superb. Really smooth, with great body, it was full of flavour.

Loustic has also been shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.


A special mention should also go to Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee, who have been roasting some excellent filter coffees which I’ve been enjoying at home this year, The Wren, who’ve served me served fine filter coffees, but who have already been nominated for far too many awards this year, CRAFT London Coffee, with a focus on single-origin filter coffee and Manchester’s Ancoats, roasters of a superb decaf which I’ve also been enjoying at home.

And the winner is Bean & Bud
Runners-up: Render Coffee and Loustic

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2014.


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