Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2014, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by 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… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Prufrock Coffee on Clerkenwell’s Leather Lane is one of those legendary names in London coffee, with an equally legendary director in Gwilym Davies, along with Jeremy Challender and Klaus Kuhnke. Of course, if you don’t move in London coffee circles (I don’t really; I’m not convinced I’d recognise Gwilym if I fell over him!) then all this means nothing, leaving Prufrock to stand or fall by its success as a coffee shop, where the clear focus is on the coffee, from London’s Square Mile.
A self-titled espresso & brew bar as well as coffee merchant, Fortitude lives up to the billing and then some. It’s a lovely little spot, bringing a variety of local roasters and an equal number from further afield to the coffee-drinkers of Edinburgh.
The draw of Bean & Bud is the outstanding tea and coffee. While I can’t speak to the tea,the coffee rotates on a regular basis, changing both beans and roasters with frightening speed. Don’t come back expecting the same cup of coffee you had last week! Bean & Bud is also up for Best Filter Coffee.
The latest addition to the suddenly-expanding Workshop Coffee chain (now four and counting) is in fashionable Fitzrovia on Mortimer Street. Just around the corner from Broadcasting House, it stays open to the civilised hour of seven o’clock, meaning you’ll often find me in here before recordings at the BBC Radio Theatre. It helps that the food is excellent and the coffee lovely. And the counter-top is gorgeous!
Machina Espresso might just be the perfect coffee shop. Set a little back on a wide pavement on Brougham Place in Edinburgh’s west end, it’s not a huge place, with just enough room for a few tables, a counter and multiple displays for coffee equipment. However, there’s an atmosphere about the place that just feels right. There’s multiple roasters on offer, with retail bags to take home, plus loads of kit on sale. Every time I come in here, I promise myself not to spend a fortune. And fail. Also nominated for the Best Espresso Award.
Four Corners already has an award this year, a proper one at that. What, you mean I still have to nominate it? Go on then. Owner of the legendary lego table (winner of the non-existent Coffee Spot Best Table Award), Four Corners is as lovely as ever, the staff are as friendly, and Gary, the owner, is even more active on social media than I am, and that really is saying something!
It’s places like Stangers that the this Award was set up to recognise. Not only is it a lovely place (hence the nomination for the Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop Award), with excellent coffee (witness the Best Espresso shortlisting), it also has that special something that doesn’t really fit into any category (although it could easily have ended up on the Most Passionate About Coffee shortlist too!).
Manchester’s Fig + Sparrow is half life-style shop, half café, but 100% excellent. Serving an espresso-based menu using beans from London’s Climpson and Sons, with guest filters on Aeropress and Chemex, it also does food. There’s a small but excellent range of cakes, an all-day breakfast menu, lunch, with various specials, sandwiches and a separate toast menu. You have to admire a place that has a separate toast menu.
Bringing speciality coffee to Huddersfield in a lovely setting, the Coffee Kabin is another, like Strangers Coffee House, that was made for this Award. Also nominated for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
Finally, we have the awesome No 35 in Dorchester, not somewhere where one would necessarily expect to find speciality coffee, but here it is and what coffee too! A gem amongst coffee shops, run by the very wonderful Toby, it is one of that rare breed where the focus is firmly on the bean. It could easily have made it onto the Most Passionate About Coffee shortlist, but instead made it onto the Best Espresso shortlist.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2014.
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