Coffee Spot Awards 2015

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.Merry Christmas to all my readers old and new! I hope you’re having a great Christmas. As the year comes to an end, it’s Awards time again. I can’t believe that these are the FOURTH Coffee Spot Awards. How did that happen? It only seems like yesterday that my friend Andrew Rilstone was suggesting the first Coffee Spot Awards. I’ve come a long way since then and 2015’s been a packed year, with more Coffee Spots than ever visited and written about.

With that in mind, it’s time to reflect on 2015 with the fourth Annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. Once again there are 20 Awards, the shortlists for each being publishing between now and New Year’s Eve, the winners being announced on New Year’s Day.

Thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page, +1ed me on Google+ (not many of you in that category!) and liked my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.

Before we go on, check out who won what in last year’s Awards in the gallery.

  • Kaffeine at Lord's: Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot
  • Tamp Culture, Reading: Best Takeaway Coffee
  • The Fleet Street Press, London: Coffee Spot with the Best Basement
  • Fred and Ginger, Kings Langley: Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop
  • Darkhorse Espresso, Exeter: Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot
  • Bean & Bud, Harrogate: Best Filter Coffee
  • Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House: Best Outdoor Seating
  • Cup North 2014: Best Saturday Supplement
  • Coffee Affair: Best Coffee Near a Railway Station
  • Strangers Coffee House, Norwich: Best Espresso
  • Bica Coffee House, London: Smallest Coffee Spot
  • The Wren, London: Best Cake
  • Dear Green Coffee, Glasgow: Best Roaster/Retailer
  • 3FE, Dublin: Best Overseas Coffee Spot
  • Pot Kettle Black, Manchester: Best Physical Space
  • Beany Green, Paddington: Happiest Staff
  • Saint Kitchen, Birmingham: Best Breakfast
  • Colonna and Small's, Bath: Most Passionate About Coffee
  • Machina Espresso, Edinburgh: Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award
  • Artigiano Espresso, Exeter: Most Popular Coffee Spot
Kaffeine at Lord's: Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot1 Tamp Culture, Reading: Best Takeaway Coffee2 The Fleet Street Press, London: Coffee Spot with the Best Basement3 Fred and Ginger, Kings Langley: Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop4 Darkhorse Espresso, Exeter: Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot
5 Bean & Bud, Harrogate: Best Filter Coffee6 Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House: Best Outdoor Seating
7 Cup North 2014: Best Saturday Supplement8 Coffee Affair: Best Coffee Near a Railway Station9 Strangers Coffee House, Norwich: Best Espresso10 Bica Coffee House, London: Smallest Coffee Spot11 The Wren, London: Best Cake12 Dear Green Coffee, Glasgow: Best Roaster/Retailer
13 3FE, Dublin: Best Overseas Coffee Spot
14 Pot Kettle Black, Manchester: Best Physical Space15 Beany Green, Paddington: Happiest Staff16 Saint Kitchen, Birmingham: Best Breakfast17 Colonna and Small's, Bath: Most Passionate About Coffee
18 Machina Espresso, Edinburgh: Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award19 Artigiano Espresso, Exeter: Most Popular Coffee Spot20
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An elite panel of judges (me) gathered in a secret location (my house) and spent literally minutes considering the following awards. However, before I introduce the awards, a few statistics for 2015:

I published 172 articles (up from 162 last year) on the Coffee Spot (not including this one!). This included (last year’s numbers in brackets):

I also introduced two new features, Brian’s Travel Spot, where I write about my trips rather than specific Coffee Spots, and the Coffee Spot Guide To… where I highlight a specific city.

As I write, the Coffee Spot has over 120,000 views this year, up from 95,000 in 2014. This is an average of 330 per day (up from 260 per day in 2015). Just over 60,000 of you have visited the Coffee Spot (up from 45,000 last year) from 141 countries (down one from 2014!!), with 77% of you coming from the UK (down from 81% in the previous years).

Anyway, enough of the numbers. Without further ado, let’s see what the award categories are this year (you can click on the Award title to see the shortlist itself):

Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Kaffeine at Lord’s)

Let’s face it, go to big cities such as New York, Edinburgh or Manchester and you expect to find good Coffee Spots. However, good Coffee Spots are everywhere, and some of them are in very unexpected places… This can either be geographically or a result of the Coffee Spot’s setting. Either way, this award recognises them.

Best Takeaway Coffee (2014 Winner: Tamp Culture)

Takeaway coffee is tricky. Often the elements are against you and the surroundings might not be the nicest, so this award recognises those Coffee Spots who produce outstanding coffee against the odds.

Coffee Spot with the Best Basement (2014 Winner: The Fleet Street Press)

Regular readers with know that I have a soft spot for Coffee Spots with great basements, so last year I introduced an award to acknowledged that. A good basement can be a real boon, particularly in the winter months, where there’s nowhere better to wrap up warm and cosy!

Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Darkhorse Espresso)

A lot of the best Coffee Spots are those that are firmly rooted in their neighbourhoods, places that serve and reflect their local communities. This award is for them.

Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop (2014 Winner: Fred & Ginger Coffee)

I know. What a silly title for an award, so this year I have decided to retire it and replace it with…

Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting (New)

Following the success of this year’s Coffee Spot Lighting Calendar, it seems only fair that those Coffee Shops with wonderful lighting are properly recognised, hence this new award.

Best Filter Coffee (2014 Winner: Bean & Bud)

Writing the Coffee Spot has revolutionised the way I think of (and drink) filter coffee, introducing me to an amazing, delicate drink and opening my eyes to a whole new world of coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which have helped me on my journey.

Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station (2014 Winner: Coffee Affair)

When you’re desperate for good coffee, stuck in a railway station is rarely the best place to be. But what if there was a great Coffee Spot in the station, or just outside and you didn’t know about it? This award is for you…

Best Saturday Supplement (2014 Winner: Cup North 2014)

The Saturday Supplement is the place where I write about coffee and events without writing about specific places. This award recognises the best of them (note that Saturday Supplements where it’s just me writing about stuff aren’t included; this award is for the things I am writing about, not me!).

Best Outdoor Seating (2014 Winner: Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House)

This award focuses on those Coffee Spots which provide the best environment for sitting outside.  The Coffee Spot itself doesn’t have to be outside; anything with a decent outside seating area qualifies!

Best Espresso (2014 Winner: Strangers Coffee House)

Espresso is tricky. I still can’t pull a reliable shot at home and admire those who can knock out shot after shot of high-quality espresso. Although my appreciation of filter coffee has come on leaps and bounds, I still see espresso as the pinnacle of coffee and it’s the drink that’s most likely to make me go “WOW!”. This award is for those Coffee Spots which served me the best and most memorable espressos of 2015.

Smallest Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Bica Coffee House)

I have a special place in my heart for small coffee spots and 2015 continued to be full of them. Note that this is all subjective – I did not get my tape measure out at any point!

Best Cake (2014 Winner: The Wren)

It’s not all about the coffee you know (despite what the tag line says). What would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.

Best Roaster/Retailer (2014 Winner: Dear Green Coffee)

While the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I drink the majority of my coffee at home. Previously this award was Best Bean Retailer, but last year I expanded it to include those wonderful people who roast my coffee beans.

Best Overseas Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: 3FE)

So far the Coffee Spot has made it to North America, France and Dublin, with 2015 seeing first ever visits to Washington DC, Chicago, Portland (Maine and Oregon) and Seattle.  I know it’s not quite the rest of the world, but I’m getting there. This award celebrates the best Coffee Spots from outside of the UK.

Best Physical Space (2014 Winner: Pot Kettle Black)

For me, a Coffee Spot is as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel as it is about the coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in.

Happiest Staff (2014 Winner: Beany Green, Paddington)

I think that staff are probably the most over-looked part of any Coffee Spot. Good staff can make a place and bad staff, no matter how great the coffee and wonderful the location, can kill a place. Everywhere that features in the Coffee Spot has great staff, but these were exceptional.

Best Breakfast (2014 Winner: Saint Kitchen)

Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart, so-much-so that I started the Saturday Spot so that I could write about Coffee Spots where the coffee wasn’t up to much, but where the breakfasts were to die for! Of course, there are also plenty of places where both the coffee and the breakfasts are to die for!

Most Passionate About Coffee (2014 Winner: Colonna & Small’s)

It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. In fact, everyone who has been covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.

Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2014 Winner: Machina Espresso)

This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love…

Most Popular Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Artigiano Espresso, Exeter)

Finally, this is the only award not decided by me. It’s given to the Coffee Spot which received the greatest number of views (according to JetPack) in the calendar year 2015. Since the Awards are meant to recognise what’s happened on the Coffee Spot in 2015, I’ve decided to exclude Coffee Spots published in previous years, a tricky call since 12 of the 20 most popular Coffee Spots (by views) in 2015 were published in previous years!


Make sure you check back between now and New Year’s Eve to catch each shortlist as it’s published!


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