2014 Awards – Best Outdoor Seating

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.Our third shortlist today is the second new Award in the 2014 Coffee Spot Awards. It’s the “Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating” Award, celebrating all those wonderful Coffee Spots with excellent outdoor seating.

To qualify for this award, it’s not just a case of sticking a coulpe of tables or chairs on the pavement outside your coffee shop. Too often, what could be a lovely spot is marred by traffic noise, or cramped conditions, or just being in the wrong place. The best outside seating is often away from the road and passing pedestrians and offers shelter from the wind, rain and/or sun (although rarely all three at once!). Fortunately, there are plenty of Coffee Spots which do exactly that and this is one award I could have filled many times over!

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • The lovely, sheltered, outdoor seating area at Lymington's Lemana Café
  • The glorious outdoor seating area at Caravan King's Cross, ideal in the summer.
  • Looking down on the seating on the South Bank at Look Mum No Hands! summer pop-up.
  • And just around the corner, the all-year-round Beany Green.
  • And talking of Look Mum No Hands!, here's the original on Old Street.
  • The glorious, sunny terrace at The Wren.
  • A lovely, sheltered spot at The Perky Peacock, Lendel, in York.
  • The courtyard at North Berwick's The Warehouse, by Steampunk.
  • The original Artigiano Espresso with a great view of St Paul's Cathedral.
  • The courtyard seating in Somerset House, home of Fernandez and Wells.
The lovely, sheltered, outdoor seating area at Lymington's Lemana Café1 The glorious outdoor seating area at Caravan King's Cross, ideal in the summer.2 Looking down on the seating on the South Bank at Look Mum No Hands! summer pop-up.3 And just around the corner, the all-year-round Beany Green.4 And talking of Look Mum No Hands!, here's the original on Old Street.5 The glorious, sunny terrace at The Wren.6 A lovely, sheltered spot at The Perky Peacock, Lendel, in York.7 The courtyard at North Berwick's The Warehouse, by Steampunk.8 The original Artigiano Espresso with a great view of St Paul's Cathedral.9 The courtyard seating in Somerset House, home of Fernandez and Wells.10
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There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The counter at Lemana Cafe, groaning under the weight of the home-made cakes.

Lemana Café

Lemana Café is a lovely place, tucked off in the High Street in Lymington, on the southern edge of the New Forest. The outdoor seating area has plenty of shade and is the perfect option almost all year round. Lemana is also nominated for the “Best Breakfast” Award.

The Caravan King's Cross Sign: "Caravan King's Cross" in black letters on a white background

Caravan King’s Cross

The outdoor seating area at Caravan King’s Cross is superb, with the square stretching out in front of it, fountains playing in the summer and the canal beyond. A lovely, traffic-free environment.

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.

Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up Update

The Look Mum No Hands! annual pop-up on the South Bank under Hungerford Bridge had an even better outdoor seating area this year. You can sit in the sun or sit in the shade and there are views across the Thames to the Houses of Parliament. It’s marred only by the rattling of the trains overhead, but I soon tuned that out. Look Mum No Hands! is also shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

The Beany Green container on the South Bank as seen from the foot of the steps to the bridge.

Beany Green, South Bank

Just around the corner from The Look Mum No Hands! pop-up is Beany Green’s permanent operation at the foot of Hungerford Bridge, with furniture made from upcycled packing crates.  Also been nominated for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

Look Mum No Hands! sign, proclaiming itself as a Cafe, Bar & (Bike) Workshop.

Look Mum No Hands! Old Street

Talking of The Look Mum No Hands!, the original on London’s Old Street has great outdoor seating options, including a row of tables along the pavement and a large courtyard with (as one would expect) plenty of cycle parking. It’s the latter that scores really highly for me, providing respite from the traffic along the busy Old Street. Also, you don’t have to walk so far to order!

An outline image of a Wren, inside a white chalk circle, the symbol of the coffee shop, The Wren.

The Wren

The Wren, the coffee shop inside a consecrated Church, has a wonderful setting for a Coffee Spot. However, don’t let that blind you to the charms of the outdoor seating options, which include a sheltered nook by a tree at street level and a glorious, sun-drenched terrace at the top of the steps. The only downside is the near continuous traffic… The Wren has also been nominated for the Happiest Staff, Best Cake and Best Physical Space Awards.

The Perky Peacock logo, a black-and-white roundel with a stylised peacock in the top half and the words "The Perky Peacock Coffee Shop" written around the edge.

Perky Peacock, Lendal

York’s Perky Peacock is not only in the unusual location of a medieval postern tower (thus drawing a nomination for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award) but is also has some great outdoor seating. There’s a row of tables down on the path near the river and my favourite, a sheltered courtyard/landing at the top of the stairs, which has got to be one of the best spots ever.

Thumbnail - Steampunk (DSC_6712t)

Steampunk, The Warehouse

North Berwick’s The Warehouse, by Steampunk, is spread over two floors of a lovely old building, which retains many of its original features. It features both a café (downstairs) and a table service restaurant (upstairs), plus there’s Steampunk’s roastery in the corner! However, if you can drag yourself away, the courtyard makes for a lovely, sheltered spot, set back from the road. Steampunk has also been nominated for the Best Espresso Award.

The Artigiano Espresso Logo, a capital A in gold on a slate-grey circle, with the words "Eat & Drink * Work & Play * Coffee & Food * Wine & Beer" written around the edge.

Artigiano Espresso, St Paul’s

The original Artigiano Espresso, opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, probably has the best view of any Coffee Spot I visited this year. Yes, you guessed it, St Paul’s Cathedral. On a pedestrianised path, there’s no traffic to worry about either. If you drag yourself away and head inside, by the way, you’ll discover why it’s also been nominated for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award!

A stumpy (a sort of mini flat white), in a glass, sitting in the sun in the courtyard of Somerset House at Fernandez and Wells

Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House

Fernandez & Wells occupies part of the East Wing of Somerset House. The interior, spread over three rooms, is glorious, but the outdoor seating, spilling out into the Somerset House courtyard, is even better, especially in the summer when the fountains are on!


A special mention also needs to go to the following: Bath’s branch of the Boston Tea Party, the Beany Green branch near my office in Paddington (largely for the optimistic placement of deck chairs outside in December!), the lovely Tea House Theatre on the edge of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, La Bottega Milanese in Leeds‘ Bond Court, and Tamp Culture in Reading, with an excellent view of the Minster.

And the winner is Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House
Runners-up: Caravan King’s Cross and Perky Peacock, Lendal

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


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