Coffee Spots come in all shapes and sizes, but for some reason I have a real soft spot for small Coffee Spots. Last year the “Smallest Coffee Spot” Award was won by I Am Coffee.
This year I have once again been blessed by some very small Coffee Spots serving some very fine coffee. As in 2014, this Award is entirely subjective: no Coffee Spots were measured during the judging process! This is also another Award that I could have filled many times over: the world seems full of lots of really lovely, small, Coffee Spots.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Coffee Affair, in London’s Queenstown Road Station, is in the old station booking office. Yes, it really is that big! Small as it is, it thinks it’s a much larger coffee shop, given everything it packs in! If the Award was decided on by dividing the floor space by what’s on offer (and who says it’s not?) it would be a sure-fire winner! Also nominated for the Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Mother’s Milk is smallest of the growing cluster of Coffee Spots in and around Fitzrovia. Despite its size, it feels much bigger with glass on two sides, making it a very bright, spacious place. The focus here is entirely on coffee: no cake, food, tea or hot chocolate, just coffee. Despite its size, Mother’s Milk still manages to offer the usual espresso-range and filter coffee made via the Aeropress, the counter doubling as a filter-station.
The Bluebird Coffee Shop is a lovely little place, which manages to cram in espresso and bulk-brew filter coffee, plus cake and a fairly decent breakfast/lunch menu, which is that it’s all baked on the premises in the kitchen downstairs. Also on the shortlist for Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot.
Runner up in the inaugural Smallest Coffee Spot Award back in 2012, I popped back into Wild & Wood for a quick update this year and can confirm that it is as small and as lovely as it ever was. I went for lunch this time, though how they fit it all in, I’ll never know!
Oxford’s Keen Been Coffee Club (aside from possibly having the best-ever name for a Coffee Shop) is a shoe-in for Smallest Coffee Spot, unless, of course, you count the floor area of the Truck Record store inside which it resides…
Bea’s of Bloomsbury, Farringdon
If I can touch both walls with arms outstretched, then it makes the Smallest Coffee Spot shortlist. I present Bea’s of Bloomsbury Farringdon branch. What? You want me to say more? It’s also in the running for the Best Cake Award.
Wood Street Coffee has moved on from its premises on Orford Road, where it shared space with a couple of other pop-ups in a little shop. Like The Keen Bean Coffee Club, it depends whether you count the rest of the shop, although Wood Street damages it chances by having both a table inside and a bench on the pavement outside. Surely, I hear you cry, it can’t have been that small then!
Like last year’s winner, I Am Coffee, Laboratorio Espresso goes a long way up and is easily taller than it is deep. This, coupled with the front wall essentially being one large window, gives it an enormous sense of space out of all keeping with its actual size. Laboratorio Espresso is also shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Awards.
Now sadly closed, the Piccadilly Grind pop-up was a welcome addition to the concourse of Piccadilly Circus tube station. Built into the actually wall of the station, you get an idea of how big it was! Also nominated for the Best Takeaway Coffee and Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Awards.
I popped back to see last year’s winner, New York City’s fantastic I Am Coffee and can confirm that it is just as fantastic and just as small. It’s also owned by one of the tallest men in speciality coffee, Giovanni. Go figure as our American cousins would say (although not Giovanni, since he’s Italian). I Am Coffee has also been nominated for the Best Espresso Award.
Charlie started life running a coffee cart outside St Albans station, which she still mans (womans?) every morning before she returns to her new coffee shop, just in time for lunch. She probably thinks it’s huge. The rest of us know that it’s quite small, really, but very, very lovely. I somehow failed to nominate Charlie’s Coffee Shop for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award. My bad.
If you want to know how big Bica Coffee House is, take a look at the picture. Yes, it really is that big. It’s tucked away in Westbourne Park tube station on the Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines, two stops west of Paddington and serves some excellent coffee from east London roasters Nude Espresso. Best go in the morning though, since it’s closed in the afternoon! Bica has also been nominated for the Best Takeaway Coffee and Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Awards.
2014 was packed full of lovely, small Coffee Spots. In any other year, the following would probably have made the shortlist.
Everyman Espresso, Soho (still NYC, not London), a lovely, little spot.
Daily Goods London has now moved south of the river, but the old spot was tiny if you didn’t count the massive bike shop it was in!
Brew Oxford is another lovely little spot, but I could stand in the middle of the room and not touch any of the walls with arms outstretched, so it (only just) didn’t quality.
Riverhill Coffee Bar in Glasgow is long, thin, small and lovely.
Faculty is the smallest of Birmingham‘s growing number of speciality coffee shops, but still just a little too big for this Award.
Drink, Shop & Dash is just around the corner from King’s Cross Station and spoils its bid for inclusion on the shortlist by having enough room for some seating!
Tamp Culture, if you just count the Piaggio Ape and the counter that gets built from scratch every day, qualifies, but if you count the seating outside on the pavement, it doesn’t. With 12 already on the shortlist, I had to draw the line somewhere!
And the winner is Bica Coffee House
Runners-up: Bea’s of Bloomsbury Farringdon and I Am Coffee
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2014.
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