The last of today’s 2015 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists is the “Best Saturday Supplement” Award, won in 2014 by Cup North. The Saturday Supplement is a place where I can write about coffee, coffee-related events, places which I liked but which didn’t really fit into the category of a Coffee Spot and frankly, anything else that takes my fancy! This Award recognises the best of this year’s Saturday Supplements.
Just so we’re clear on this, the Award is not about my writing (that would be far too self-serving). It’s about the actual subjects that I’m writing about, which this year included coffee festivals, magazines, books, and going for dinner, all of which makes the comparison a little tricky, but that’s my problem!
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Late in 2014, I visited Finca in Dorchester, where I learnt about the art of roasting green beans at home in a wok (which is how Finca got started). Intrigued, I took some green beans home with me and over Christmas, set to work. The process was remarkably easy and the result impressively drinkable. I don’t think I’ll be challenging any of the world’s speciality roasters, but it was good fun!
At the start of the year, I went up to Leeds, where I met up with Paul Henry to record a couple of episodes of his podcast, Espressno, talking about the Coffee Spot. Sadly, Espressno is currently dormant, real life having got in the way. This is a shame since I really enjoyed it and hope that there will be more episodes in 2015 (and I’m not just saying that because I was in it!).
In March, I was invited to a cupping at Finisterre, organised by Brighton roaster, Small Batch. This featured a host of coffees from Rwanda (and one from Burundi). As well as getting to taste some really good coffee and catch up with some friends, I learnt a lot about Rwanda and the coffee scene over there. I also got to discover Finisterre, which has been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
In May, I made my annual visit to Olympia for the Caffe Culture Show. However, this year was different as I ended up judging the Caffè Culture Exhibitor Best Drink Award, which was won by Lashbrook Lassis.
A perennial contender for the Best Saturday Supplement Award is Caffeine Magazine. I’ve been documenting its progress ever since it’s first year, updating the post ever time a new issue comes out (which makes for six updates a year). A caveat should be added here, since I write for Caffeine Magazine, regularly penning the Neighbourhood Watch feature at the back.
Last year saw the inaugural Coffee Stops Awards, which, this year, were rolled out to cover the UK. Once again, I was shortlisted for an award (and no, I didn’t win). Most importantly, the profile of speciality coffee in the UK was raised considerably. Also shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot shortlist.
Another perennial contender is the London Coffee Festival, back for another year in 2015 and bigger and better than ever. As before, I managed to go for three of the four days and still didn’t see everything I wanted to. My write-ups covered a diverse range of subjects including kit, cups, coffee experiences, the La Cimbali sensory sessions and the coffee itself.
Over the summer I was invited to the preview of the Coffee Break Delirium exhibition, one of a series of monthly art exhibitions in the basement of Leyas in Camden Town. This was a series of abstract coffee-related drawings by the very talented Timothy Shaw. It also doubled as a launch of some new coffees by new London roaster/coffee collaboration, Assembly. Leyas was nominated for the Best Basement Award.
Another highlight of my year was attending a Cezve Masterclass with Vadim Granovskiy, who I saw win the Ibrik Competition at the London Coffee Festival in 2014. Vadim introduced me to the Cezve (also known as Ibrik), taught me how to make coffee with it and also took me on a taste pairing experience, using different flavours (such as ginger juice!) to enhance to coffee.
It was a year of awards and festivals. My third set of Awards were the Lunch Business Awards, where I was neither judging nor in contention for. I did, however, make lots of nominations for Best Coffee and Best Tea Experience, including winners Strangers Coffee House and Washington Tea.
As I said, a year of awards and festivals. Having missed the Glasgow Coffee Festival last year, I was determined to go this year. A one-day festival, hosted by Glasgow‘s Dear Green Coffee, I loved it. Small enough to be intimate, but with a big enough range of exhibitors, all housed in the amazing Briggait, it immediately became my favourite small festival of the year. As per usual, I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to…
Last year, Cup North was my favourite festival. This year it was back, bigger and better than ever, feeling more like a mini-London Coffee Festival. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t manage to get to see everyone I’d hoped to.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.
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