2015 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

The Dear Green logo, taken from one of the bags of coffee.First up today, the 2015 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Dear Green Coffee. Initially, this award was only open to retailers, but in 2014, I expanded it to include roasters, who now dominate the award. Although the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink the majority of my coffee at home, so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention.

The problem, with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist and this Award is no exception. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, by-and-large, to stick to either roasters I’ve written about as roasters in the Meet the Roaster series or coffee shops where the beans are roasted on site. This year, cafe/roasters dominate the shortlist.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Steampunk, roasting, retailing and running a cafe (plus a van or two) in North Berwick.
  • Dorchester's Finca, a cosy spot where the coffee is roasted on the counter!
  • Brighton's Redroaster, a cafe/roaster still going strong since last millennium!
  • Another Red Roaster, only this one's a Little Red Roaster from Poole.
  • Foundry Coffee from Sheffield, interesting single-origins mostly for the home market.
  • Brooklyn Roasting Company underneath the Manhattan Bridge in Broooklyn.
  • Tandem Coffee Roastery in Portland, Maine, with its own espresso bar attached.
  • Amid Giants & Idols, roasting and serving in a lovely spot in Lyme Regis.
  • Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters, another coffeeshop/roaster, this time in Birmingham.
  • Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills, a runner-up last year, now in new premises.
  • 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters, pioneering speciality coffee in Nottingham.
Steampunk, roasting, retailing and running a cafe (plus a van or two) in North Berwick.1 Dorchester's Finca, a cosy spot where the coffee is roasted on the counter!2 Brighton's Redroaster, a cafe/roaster still going strong since last millennium!3 Another Red Roaster, only this one's a Little Red Roaster from Poole.4 Foundry Coffee from Sheffield, interesting single-origins mostly for the home market.5 Brooklyn Roasting Company underneath the Manhattan Bridge in Broooklyn.6 Tandem Coffee Roastery in Portland, Maine, with its own espresso bar attached.7 Amid Giants & Idols, roasting and serving in a lovely spot in Lyme Regis.8 Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters, another coffeeshop/roaster, this time in Birmingham.9 Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills, a runner-up last year, now in new premises.10 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters, pioneering speciality coffee in Nottingham.11
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There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

Details from one of Steampunk's white boards, listing various of its offerings.Steampunk Coffee

North Berwick’s Steampunk roasts its coffee in a lovely setting, an old workshop, The Warehouse, that has now been converted to house Steampunk’s coffee shop (downstairs) and an informal dining area (upstairs), both of which are beautiful spaces. I’ve always liked Steampunk’s espresso blends, which is ironic since this year Steampunk stopped roasting blends and moved to only roasting single-origins for both filter and espresso.

The store front of Finca on Great Western Road, Dorchester, the bulbs inside glowing in the fading evening light.Finca

Dorchester‘s Finca is a lovely coffee shop in its own right, but it’s also an amazing roaster, with all the coffee roasted in a bright-red, 1 kg Genesis CBR-1200, which sits proudly on the counter-top for all to see. Finca also got me into roasting coffee beans at home in my wok, which is how Finca got started! Finca has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot Special Award.

The little red roaster that gave Redroaster its name.Redroaster

Brighton‘s Redroaster first opened its doors almost 16 years ago. Back then it was something of a pioneer, a café-cum-roaster, producing all its own beans on a small, red roaster which gives the coffee shop its name. The roaster is still there, in pride of place behind the counter, but ever since Redroaster opened a dedicated roastery in Kemp Town to supply its growing wholesale business, it’s been semi-retired. These days it’s only in use as a sample roaster, or when the big one in Kemp Town is broken!

An espresso from Little Red Roaster in Poole, made with a single-origin coffee from the Doi Chaang community in Thailand and served in a classic white cup.Little Red Roaster

Another Red Roaster, only this one is a Little one and is based in Poole. Like its almost namesake in Brighton, the roaster which gave the shop its name is still in the store. In this case it’s a 3kg Toper, now in semi-retirement, getting fired up once a week. Little Red Roaster’s speciality is a single-origin from Thailand. Also shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.

A V60 at Foundry Coffee Roasters, standing on a glass beaker half full of coffee, all on a set of scales.Foundry Coffee Roaster

Sheffield‘s Foundry Coffee Roaster is the only specialist roaster (that is, a roaster without a coffee shop) to make the shortlist this year, which says more about where I’ve been visiting than the state of the market! Unusually, Foundry concentrates on roasting single-origins primarily for the home market rather than wholesale, so the output is more skewed towards filter than espresso. Foundry has also been shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee and the Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

The Brooklyn Roasting Company's 25kg Loring coffee roaster in its current home on Brooklyn's Jay Street.Brooklyn Roasting Company

Tucked away on Jay Street, under the Manhattan Bridge the Brooklyn Roasting Company occupies the ground floor of a sprawling five-storey building. It’s an amazing place, which, as well as being a wonderful coffee shop, is also the Brooklyn Roasting Company’s headquarters, where all the roasting takes place on a gleaming 35kg Loring. However, since my visit, plans have been announced to move the roasting operation into new premises in the nearby Navy Yard.

A light bulb in the shape of a tandem bicycle from the wall of the Tandem Coffee Roasters RoasteryTandem Coffee Roasters

Staying in America, I first came across Tandem Coffee Roasters in Boston’s Render Coffee. Before long I was heading up to Portland (Maine) to visit the roastery. You can sit at the friendly coffee bar and watch the coffee being roasted on Tandem’s 12kg Probat roaster, which is housed in a separate wing of the building (although I believe that since my visit, the roaster has been replaced by a bigger model).

The Amid Giants & Idols logo from the A-board outside.Amid Giants & Idols

Amid Giants & Idols is an amazing coffee shop in its own right, shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards. However, it’s also an excellent roaster, with all the coffee being roasted in a shed at the back of the shop on a vintage roaster called Otto.

The Giesen roaster at Quarter Horse, Birmingham.Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters

Quarter Horse, in Birmingham, is two-for-the-price-of-one, with a lovely spacious unit split between the roastery on the left and the coffee shop on the right. The roastery also supplies the original Quarter Horse in Oxford. The space between coffee shop and roastery is open, but since Quarter Horse currently only roasts one or twice a week, so you’ll have to be lucky to see the 15kg Giesen in action!

Avenue Coffee on the corner of Glasgow's Great Western Avenue and Barrington Drive.Avenue Coffee, Great Western Road

Another two-for-the-price-of-one is Avenue Coffee in Glasgow, although here the roaster’s tucked away on the mezzanine level at the back of the shop. On my first visit in 2014, the roaster had just been installed, but on my return this year, production was in full swing, supplying the coffee shop, the original Avenue G and a growing wholesale market. Avenue Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Best Physical Space Awards.

The words "Now Open! (just...)" written in blue pen on the window of Ancoats, Royal Mills.Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills

Sticking with the theme, Ancoats, which was a runner-up for this Award last year, has moved into beautiful new premises in Manchester‘s Royal Mills. Ancoats has also been shortlised for the Best Physical Space and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

The 200 Degrees Coffee Logo200 Degrees Coffee Roasters

Although it’s also a coffee shop/roaster operation, with a flag ship coffee shop in the centre of Nottingham and plans for a second coffee shop, 200 Degrees started life as a roaster in a spacious warehouse down by the River Trent. 200 Degrees roasts its house espresso blend, a regularly changing guest espresso blend, three or four single-origin for filter and, unusually, a filter blend as well.


A special mention also needs to go to the following:

Café Lomi, a well-established coffee shop/roaster in northern Paris
Café Zee, roasting all its own coffee on a 6kg roaster at the back of the store
Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle, an amazing place, although the roasting is off-site
Stoked Roasters + Coffeehouse, another coffee shop/roaster with a roaster in the corner

And the winner is Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills
Runners-up: Foundry Coffee Roaster and Avenue Coffee, Great Western Road

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.


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10 thoughts on “2015 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

  1. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

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  3. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Best Filter Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

  4. Heard about Brian today for the first time!! What a great concept.
    Can I vote for Amid Giants and Idols run by two lovely people, Xanne and Dan, for roasting and serving the best coffee for miiiiiiiiiles!!

  5. Pingback: 2015 Awards – Special Award | Brian's Coffee Spot

  6. Pingback: Coffee Spot Awards 2015 | Brian's Coffee Spot

  7. Pingback: Avenue Coffee, Great Western Road | Brian's Coffee Spot

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