2014 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot

The downstairs at Cafe Mila, bathed in sunlight.We kick off the second day with the shortlist for the 2014 Coffee Spot Award for “Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot”. In 2013 this went to Café Mila and it celebrates those Coffee Spots which are firmly rooted in, and which serve, their local communities. Unsurprisingly, the shortlist contains some of my favourite Coffee Spots of the year

This Award has quite a wide geographical spread, with Coffee Spots from Philadelphia, New York City and from across the UK from Exeter to Cardiff, Birmingham, Tring, Leeds and York.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Darkhorse Espresso, a neighbourhood coffee shop waiting for the neighbourhood to arrive!
  • Bluebird Coffee Shop in New York City, a lovely neighbourhood spot.
  • A fantastic cappucino at the lovely Menagerie in Philadelphia.
  • Tring's The Espresso Lounge
  • Brewsmiths in Birmingham, a real neighbourhood gem.
  • Cardiff's Torre Coffee by the castle is the sort of friendly coffee shop every city needs.
  • The second Perky Peacock, on York's Gillygate.
  • The latest Opposite in the Leeds suburb of Chapel Allerton.
Darkhorse Espresso, a neighbourhood coffee shop waiting for the neighbourhood to arrive!1 Bluebird Coffee Shop in New York City, a lovely neighbourhood spot.2 A fantastic cappucino at the lovely Menagerie in Philadelphia.3 Tring's The Espresso Lounge4 Brewsmiths in Birmingham, a real neighbourhood gem.5 Cardiff's Torre Coffee by the castle is the sort of friendly coffee shop every city needs.6 The second Perky Peacock, on York's Gillygate.7 The latest Opposite in the Leeds suburb of Chapel Allerton.8
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There are eight Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The Darkhorse Espresso sign, white writing on a red oval.

Darkhorse Espresso

Exeter’s Darkhorse Espresso is a neighbourhood coffee shop waiting as its neighbourhood to grow up around it. A little off the beaten track on Exeter’s Magdalen Road, it serves coffee from London’s Ozone and cakes from an Exeter favourite, The Exploding Bakery.

The Bluebird Coffee Shop logo as written in the window of the shop, bluebird in lower case blue, COFFEE SHOP in upper case white.

Bluebird Coffee Shop

New York‘s Bluebird may be the friendliest coffee shop I’ve visited in the US. Starting with the Barista, Ben, & running through the customers, everyone seemed happy to chat, but not in a pushy way. It is pretty much the perfect coffee shop atmosphere. Also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

IMAG3741Menagerie Coffee

If I lived in/around Philadelphia, I could see the delightful Menagerie Coffee, just off Market Street down near Penn’s Landing in the Old City, becoming a regular haunt. The coffee is also superb, with  Dogwood Coffee from Minneapolis providing the house-blend and various guests on filter.

The Espresso Lounge sign, promising "A Revolution For Coffee Lovers"

The Espresso Lounge

Serving a traditional coffee-shop menu, with breakfast/brunch served until two in the afternoon and lunch served from 11:30, the Espresso Lounge marries typical, local coffee shop fare with excellent coffee, including espresso and a selection of single-origin pour-overs.

IMAG3526Brewsmiths Coffee & Tea

The first word that springs to mind when stepping into Brewsmiths is “cosy”, followed by “friendly” and “upmarket greasy spoon” (three words). Whatever the description, Brewsmiths is a neighbourhood coffee shop under a Birmingham station and in the running for Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station.

Torre Coffee, from the sign hanging outside the shop: the words "torre coffee" written in a cursive script, cream on brown.

Torre Coffee

An Italian-Romanian collaboration in the heart of the Welsh capital, serving James Gourmet Coffee from Ross-on-Wye on the English side of the Welsh border, Torre is a lovely place, which gives you a warm, friendly welcome. As well as the usual espresso-based coffee menu, there’s bulk-brew filter, loose-leaf tea, full breakfast and lunch menus, plus pastries and cakes, the latter baked on the premises.

The lovely espresso cups at The Perky Peacock on Gillygate.

The Perky Peacock, Gillygate

The second of York’s Perky Peacocks, this one focuses more on food, with an impressive brunch offering, which is served until 3 o’clock each afternoon. Naturally, I arrived at 3.15. With an impressive range of seating in such a small space, it’s a lovely spot.

The Opposite logo in white chalk on a black background, with the word 'Coffee' written underneath.

Opposite Chapel Allerton

Out in Chapel Allerton, in the leafy suburbs north of Leeds city centre, is the third of the city’s eclectic local chain known as Opposite. It’s a lovely little spot, exuding charm all the way from the big windows at the front to the massive chalk drawing on the back wall and is definitely rooted in its community, where it offers excellent coffee (from London’s Square Mile, plus regular guests) and some decent food.


A special mention also needs to go to Coffee Affair, another Coffee Spot under a railway station, this time in London, Fred & Ginger Coffee, just down the road from The Espresso Lounge in Tring, Charlie’s Coffee Shop in St Albans and Leith’s Printworks Coffee, all of which could have made the shortlist this year.

And the winner is Darkhorse Espresso
Runners-up: Menagerie Coffee and Brewsmiths Coffee & Tea

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


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