The first shortlist for the 2015 Coffee Spot Awards is the “Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot” Award, won in 2014 by Kaffeine at Lord’s. Finding Coffee Spots in cities such as New York, Edinburgh or Manchester is to be expected. However, good Coffee Spots are everywhere, some of them are in very unexpected places, both geographically and in terms of setting.
This Award is very much defined by the nominees on the shortlist. Some of these are geographical, a reward for bringing great coffee to unexpected places. Others are a recognition of a great or unusual setting for a Coffee Spot.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
One of two branches of La Bottega Milanese in Leeds, this is an example of bringing speciality coffee to a mainstream setting, in this case, the Light, a wonderful multi-use space that includes shops, restaurants and a cinema. Plus, of course, an excellent, Italian-inspired speciality coffee shop (Alex, the owner, is from Milan), with coffee from nearby Grumpy Mule in Holmfirth.
I’m not sure what was more unexpected, finding Bluestone Lane in among the towering skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan, or discovering somewhere which served a decent flat white in America, a land where the Aussie/Kiwi (you decide which) inspired drink is in short supply. In the case of Bluestone Lane, however, it’s definitely Aussie-inspired, since the owners are from Melbourne. Bluestone Lane was also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
Coffee and surfing are not necessarily something you expect to see side-by-side, except at the London branch of surf-outfitters, Finisterre, where the store has a lovely, sun-drenched espresso bar serving Brighton‘s Small Batch.
I knew where Seattle‘s Slate Coffee Roasters was, but even so, I did a double-take, not expecting a slice of coffee-heaven in such a suburban setting. Slate has also been shortlisted for Best Overseas Coffee Spot and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Talking of coffee shops in unexpected suburban settings, early on the same trip, I ventured off the beaten track in Portland (Maine, not Oregon), and down a dusty road that was in the process of being completely dug up and relaid. However, my perseverance was rewarded with a visit to the wonderful coffee bar and roastery that is Tandem Coffee. Tandem was also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
Another example of bringing speciality coffee to the High Street in an amazing setting is Nottingham‘s 200 Degrees Coffee Shop, which is the flagship store of 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters. Set in an iconic old inn right in the centre of the city, it is an amazing location and flies the flag for speciality coffee in Nottingham. 200 Degrees has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
The seaside resort of Lyme Regis, on the Dorset Coast, is not where you’d immediately think of when it comes to speciality coffee and yet, there it is: Amid Giants & Idols, an amazing, lovely, friendly coffee shop which roasts all its own coffee in a shed out back. Also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Awards.
Continuing the theme of finding amazing coffee in unexpected places, just a few miles to the east of Lyme Regis is the market town of Bridport, which has not one, but two top-notch speciality coffee shops. The first is Soulshine Cafe, which combines excellent local food with coffee from the likes of Bristol’s Extract, coupled with regularly-rotating guest roasters. It’s also got an amazing setting, including some great outdoor seating, which got it a place on the shortlist for the Best Outdoor Seating Award. Soulshine has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Box Office Coffee is the second amazing coffee shop in Bridport, tucked away in the box office of the local community theatre. An offshoot of Dorchester’s highly-regarded Number 35 Coffeehouse and Kitchen, Box Office is also a multi-roaster coffee shop. Box Office has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Back in the big city (Birmingham, to be precise), local power-house, 6/8 Kafé, has brought speciality coffee to the city’s Millennium point, is a science centre extraordinaire, housing Birmingham’s Thinktank science museum and faculties from both Birmingham City University and Birmingham Metropolitan College. And 6/8 Kafé, serving Has Bean espresso to families on their way to Thinktank and students taking a break from their studies.
Another example of a coffee shop in a mainstream setting is Edinburgh‘s Dovecot Café. Run by Stag Espresso, for the last four years, it has been serving top-notch coffee to unsuspecting visitors to the Dovecot Contemporary Art Gallery and Tapestry Studio. It also does an excellent line in lunches, making it a big hit with the locals Stag Espresso was also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot Special Award.
Staying in Edinburgh, local roaster/coffee shop chain, Artisan Roast opened a new branch this year, sharing space with a florists in Stockbridge, part of Edinburgh’s New Town. The New Town itself is not that surprising as a location, while the combination of florist and coffee shop is slowly gaining ground. In an era of high rents, sharing makes an awful lot of sense to all parties!
A special mention also needs to go to the following.
Laynes Espresso, Belgrave Music Hall (bringing quality coffee to a multi-use venue)
Peña (tucked away down a pedestrian lane in Glasgow in what looks like a garden shed)
Grindsmith (Manchester‘s original coffee shop in a pod)
Society Café, The Corridor (bringing speciality coffee to the High Street)
Opposite Café Victoria Quarter (another bringing speciality coffee to the High Street).
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.
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