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.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.
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