2015 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

The coffee menu at Colonna & Small's, with three beans on espresso and three on filter.Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2015, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2014 by Colonna & Small’s. For me, this is one of the most important awards, and also one of the hardest to judge, which is why I’ve left it to the last day.

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

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Noble Espresso, serving coffee in all weathers to a rotating cast of roasters.
  • Rival Bros Coffee, turning out consistently high quality coffee in Philadelphia
  • Bond Street Coffee, even more coffee-obsessed than normal in a coffee-obsessed city.
  • Barista Training at Department of Coffee and Social Affairs: I learned so much!
  • Greenstreet Coffee Co, another standout in Philadelphia, an understated coffee city.
  • Asado Coffee, Pickwick Place, driven to roast & serve the best coffee possible.
  • Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle, redefining the coffee experience.
  • Either/Or in Portland, a true multi-roaster in a land of cafe/roasters.
  • Seattle's Milstead & Co., another multi-roaster with a burning passion for great coffee.
  • Foundry Coffee Roaster, flying the flag for Sheffield with an obsession for coffee.
  • BLK Coffee, in Newcastle, where owner Alison is following her coffee passion.
  • The Little Red Roaster, Norwich, going strong after more than a decade!
Noble Espresso, serving coffee in all weathers to a rotating cast of roasters.1 Rival Bros Coffee, turning out consistently high quality coffee in Philadelphia2 Bond Street Coffee, even more coffee-obsessed than normal in a coffee-obsessed city.3 Barista Training at Department of Coffee and Social Affairs: I learned so much!4 Greenstreet Coffee Co, another standout in Philadelphia, an understated coffee city.5 Asado Coffee, Pickwick Place, driven to roast & serve the best coffee possible.6 Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle, redefining the coffee experience.7 Either/Or in Portland, a true multi-roaster in a land of cafe/roasters.8 Seattle's Milstead & Co., another multi-roaster with a burning passion for great coffee.9 Foundry Coffee Roaster, flying the flag for Sheffield with an obsession for coffee.10 BLK Coffee, in Newcastle, where owner Alison is following her coffee passion.11 The Little Red Roaster, Norwich, going strong after more than a decade!12
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There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A black pop-up gazebo shelters a wooden counter holding a grinder and espresso machineNoble Espresso

Serving excellent coffee in all weathers from its stall at the back of King’s Cross Station, Noble Espresso regularly rotates its roasters, achieving the sort of quality that many a bricks-and-mortar coffee shops can only aspire to. Now that takes true dedication. Noble Espresso has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Takeaway Coffee Awards.

Two bare-chested men, dressed as old-fashioned pugilists, but each holding a large coffee cup in their hands.Rival Bros Coffee Bar

Philadelphia is an understated and often overlooked coffee city, but it’s also one of my favourites. Rival Bros roasts its own coffee and now has a permanent home from which to serve it. A lovely spot in South Philadelphia, the focus is clearly on the (excellent) coffee, served with real passion. Rival Bros has also been shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.

The coffee menu at Bond Street Coffee, complete with origin, processing method and tasting notes for each of the four coffees on offer (two espresso, two filter).Bond Street Coffee

Bond Street Coffee is a stand-out in Brighton, another overlooked (by me, at least) coffee city. In partnership with Horsham Coffee Roaster, Bond Street is firmly focused on its coffee. Also in the running for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

Yours truly holding a portafilter up to check if I've got my tamping level.Barista Training at Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to be invited to a barista training course at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. I’ve been making coffee for years, but I learned so much on this course and my two trainers, Chris and John, were amazing. So knowledgeable about coffee, what really struck me was how enthusiastically they wanted to share what they knew.

A decaf piccolo with amazing latte art from Greenstreet Coffee Co, PhiladelphiaGreenstreet Coffee Co

Another coffee shop/roaster in Philadelphia, Greenstreet Coffee has been roasting some of the city’s best coffee for a long time now. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in its downtown coffee shop, where I was well looked after by the magnificent staff. I also got to drink some lovely coffee, sitting in the window, soaking up the spring sunshine. Definitely a highlight of my east coast trip back in March.

A beautiful espresso in a classic white cup, served at Asado Coffee, Pickwick Place.Asado Coffee, Pickwick Place

If there’s a man who is more passionate and enthusiastic about roasting and serving great coffee than Asado’s Jeff Liberman, I’d like to meet him! I had some amazing coffee at Asado, which was also shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Happiest Staff Awards.

The sign from the window of Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle: the words 'SLATE COFFEE ROASTERS', one word per lineCoffee Tasting Flight at Slate

Seattle‘s Slate Coffee Roasters is, for me, redefining the coffee experience. I had an amazing, curated coffee tasting flight. Slate was also shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.

The sign hanging outside Either/Or in Portland. The words EITHER/Or on a wooden board.Either/Or

Staying in the Pacific Northwest, Either/Or in Portland was another with a coffee tasting flight. It’s also a multi-roaster coffee shop, a rare concept in the land of the coffee shop/roaster. It’s very highly thought of in Portland: practically all the baristas I spoke to recommended it.

A model of a biplane sitting above the door at Milstead & Co. in Seattle.Milstead & Co.

Back in Seattle, Milstead & Co. is another multi-roaster coffee shop, which also got shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award. Like Slate, Milstead & Co. is out in the suburbs, serving the sort of speciality coffee you normally associate with city centre locations.

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 have been turning out some consistently high quality coffee for some time, with a focus (unusually) on the home, rather than wholesale, market. It was a real pleasure to catch up with Lee and Callum earlier this year (as well as running into them at the Glasgow Coffee Festival). Foundry was also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award and is in the running for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

A carafe of Ethiopian Kayamo coffee roasted by Workshop, served by BLK Coffee, Heaton.BLK Coffee

When Alison, the owner of BLK, asked me if she should open her own coffee shop, I advised her against it (this is my standard advice, by the way, nothing to do with Alison). Fortunately, she ignored me and opened BLK earlier this year in her home town of Newcastle. BLK was also shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award and is in the running for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

Two flat whites, in glasses, with heart pattern latte-art, at The Little Red Roaster, St Andrews Hill, Norwich.The Little Red Roaster, St Andrews Hill

This nomination is more for The Little Red Roaster as a whole than for the lovely new branch on Norwich‘s St Andrews Hill. Owner, Darren, already had two outlets, the original market stall (2002) and the first bricks and mortar store on Grove Road (2007). There was never meant to be a third store, but walking up St Andrews Hill one day, he say the perfect location, and that was that…


A special mention also needs to go to the following:

Repack Espresso in Bath: it’s hard operating in the shadow of Colonna & Small’s
Curators Coffee Gallery, one of my favourite spots in London’s Fitzrovia
Upshot Espresso in Sheffield, which is already on too many shortlists this year!
Greenhood Coffee House, where owner Rory shows a real passion for coffee
Flat Caps Coffee in Newcastle, where Joe still makes some of my favourite coffee
Amid Giants & Idols in Lyme Regis, where Xanne is a real coffee enthusiast.

And the winner is Coffee Tasting Flight at Slate
Runners-up: Bond Street Coffee and BLK Coffee

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


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8 thoughts on “2015 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

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