2015 Awards – Special Award

The window Edinburgh's Machina Espresso, showing off some of the wares, including cups, grinders and espresso machines.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2015, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Machina Espresso.

This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

Some of the Coffee Spots here haven’t made it to any of the other shortlists, so this Award gives me a chance to recognise some special places. Others have made it onto many other shortlists, so this is another chance for me to let you know just how much I like them! Either way, enjoy.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Laynes Espresso bringing speciality coffee to Belgrave Music Hall.
  • Finca, roasting all its coffee on the counter top!
  • Artisan, Putney, a lovely sunny spot on the corner with an innovative loyalty system.
  • Repack Espresso, doing great things with a Kees van der Western in Bath
  • Climpson and Sons Cafe in Broadway Market, something of a fixture on the London scene.
  • Electric Coffee Company, a gem out in Ealing and another London oldie.
  • Bard Coffee, coffee shop and roaster in the heart of downtown Portland (Maine).
  • Street Bean Coffee, a social enterprise in Seattle, serving up excellent coffee & life chances.
  • Greenhood Coffee House, a new addition to Beeston near Nottingham.
  • Dovecot Cafe by Stag Espresso, bringing speciality coffee to the mainstream market.
  • McCune Smith, more than just a 'sandwich shop' in Glasgow.
  • Filament Coffee, pop-up turned coffee shop in Edinburgh.
Laynes Espresso bringing speciality coffee to Belgrave Music Hall.1 Finca, roasting all its coffee on the counter top!2 Artisan, Putney, a lovely sunny spot on the corner with an innovative loyalty system.3 Repack Espresso, doing great things with a Kees van der Western in Bath4 Climpson and Sons Cafe in Broadway Market, something of a fixture on the London scene.5 Electric Coffee Company, a gem out in Ealing and another London oldie.6 Bard Coffee, coffee shop and roaster in the heart of downtown Portland (Maine).7 Street Bean Coffee, a social enterprise in Seattle, serving up excellent coffee & life chances.8 Greenhood Coffee House, a new addition to Beeston near Nottingham.9 Dovecot Cafe by Stag Espresso, bringing speciality coffee to the mainstream market.10 McCune Smith, more than just a 'sandwich shop' in Glasgow.11 Filament Coffee, pop-up turned coffee shop in Edinburgh.12
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There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The letters "LE" for Laynes Espresso in black on white, in the centre of a black circle with the words "Belgrave Music Hall" around the edge.Laynes Espresso, Belgrave Music Hall

Laynes Espresso looks like a pop-up on the ground floor of Leeds‘ Belgrave Music Hall, where it shares the space with a number of other food outlets. However, it’s a permanent location and, once a month, Laynes takes over the whole place to serve its legendary brunches. I got a taste of this when I visited Laynes at the Street Food Market at this year’s Cup North.

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

Finca, in Dorchester, has made it onto the shortlist for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award and the article my visit inspired, about Roasting Green Beans at Home, has been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement Award. However, I also wanted to recognise it here, since I found Finca’s story really inspiring, starting with roasting green beans at home in a wok. There’s hope for us all!

An eight segment wheel with various rewards such as free coffee, cake or any item from the menu.Artisan, Putney

The original Artisan in Putney can consider itself unlucky not to have made it onto a number of shortlists, hence its inclusion here. It’s a lovely, sun drenched spot, with great food and coffee. Artisan has a unique loyalty card scheme: once you have got the requisite number of stamps on your loyalty card, you get to spin the wheel (see picture), where you can get anything from a glass of water to five free coffees!

The Repack Espresso logo, a stylised outline of the mountain-biking track it's named after above the words "repack espresso" in lower case.Repack Espresso

Repack Espresso in Bath is another that can consider itself unlucky not to have made it onto any number of shortlists. A little off the beaten track, it’s well worth tracking down for some excellent coffee in pleasant and friendly surroundings. There’s filter, plus espresso pulled on a Kees van der Western.

The front of the Climpson and Sons Café, with the recessed door offset to the right and with wooden benches on the pavement in front of the windows.Climpson and Sons Café

Climpson and Sons is a well-established third-wave roaster in London and its lovely coffee shop on Broadway Market is something of a fixture on the London scene. It’s another one that could have made it onto any number of shortlists this year.

A flat white in a classic black cup at the Electric Coffee Company in Ealing.Electric Coffee Company

In contrast, Ealing’s Electric Coffee Company has been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station, Happiest Staff and Best Breakfast Awards. So I feel a bit bad about putting it on a fourth shortlist, but at the same time, I really like what the Electric Coffee Company is doing (and has been doing for almost 10 years) out in Ealing which now includes roasting its own coffee down in Sussex.

The label on a bag of Bard Coffee's High Tide Espresso blend: medium roast, a blend of Central America and East Africa coffees, tasting notes of sweet red berries, orange-like citrus with a creamy body and a dark chocolate finish.Bard Coffee

Bard Coffee sits on a lovely square in the heart of downtown Portland (Maine). It roasts all its own coffee and, for once, I turned up a couple of weeks after it had been refurbished (usually I arrive a couple of weeks before refurbishment). The coffee was great and the staff were even cooler, happily putting up with my endless faffing around. A really special place.

The A-board outside Street Bean Coffee on Seattle's 3rd Avenue, pointing the way inside.Street Bean Coffee

Seattle‘s Street Bean Coffee is a pioneer in the sphere of social coffee, a movement which is rapidly gaining traction. However, Street Bean has been at it for five years now, providing training and jobs for some of the disadvantaged in Seattle. As a coffee shop, it holds its own in a city full of excellent coffee. It’s now expanding into coffee roaster, with an on-site roaster in the store next door.

A specially-commissioned piece of art for Greenhood Coffee House by the very talented Tim Shaw. A hooded archer kneeling on top of a hot water tap shoots arrows through suspended apples and into a target standing on an EK-43 grinder.Greenhood Coffee House

Greenhood turned into a must visit when I was in Nottingham over the summer and I’m glad that I did. Although it was only a few weeks old at the time, owner Rory has created something really special in Beeston, on the outskirts of Nottingham. Greenhood has also earned a spot on the Most Popular Coffee Spot shortlist.

A flat white in a classic white cup seen from directly above with a multi-leaf fern motif in the latte art.Dovecot Café by Stag Espresso

Stag Espresso has been running the in-house café of the Dovecot Contemporary Art Gallery and Tapestry Studio in Edinburgh since 2011, although its moving on in the New Year. However, this is a shout-out to Richard and his team for their achievement of bringing speciality coffee to a mainstream setting. Also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Space to Find a Coffee Spot Award.

The interior of McCune Smith, looking into the larger, second space from the first.

McCune Smith

Glasgow‘s McCune Smith is a lot more than just a coffee shop (although as a coffee shop, it’s a very good one). Taking its inspiration from the Scottish Enlightenment, McCune Smith is named after Dr James McCune Smith, the black intellectual and abolitionist who became the first African American in the world to hold a medical degree when he graduated from Glasgow’s Old College in 1837.

A cup of filter coffee, seen from above, next to a handleless jug, on a white, round table at Filament Coffee.Filament Coffee

Filament started life as a very well-regarded pop-up in Edinburgh in 2014. Now it’s a well-regarded permanent coffee shop on Clerk Street on the southern side of Edinburgh. Long and thin, it’s a funny space, which would have been really awkward, but which actually works well. The coffee’s pretty good too and there are bagels! Count me converted.


A special mention also needs to go to the following:

Curators Coffee Gallery, doing lots of things very well indeed, including the Chemex
Upshot Espresso, another one that’s been on far too many shortlists already!
Flat Caps Coffee, still one of my favourite coffee shops in the country
Amid Giants & Idols, like having coffee in the sitting room of owner, Xanne

And the winner is Greenhood Coffee House
Runners-up: Street Bean Coffee and Dovecot Café by Stag Espresso

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


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