Coffee Spot Awards 2015: Winners

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2016 underway, here are the winners of the fourth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2015. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and now we have the winners!

Before we go on, I know I’ve said this before, but a big thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page, +1ed me on Google+ (not many of you in that category!) and liked my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.

If you don’t like lists, you can see who won this year’s Awards in the gallery.

  • Amid Giants & Idols, the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot.
  • Notes, Canary Wharf, winner of this year's Best Takeaway Coffee Award.
  • Daisy Green, 2015's Coffee Spot with the Best Basement.
  • G!RO Cycles, the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot.
  • Society Cafe, The Corridor, winner of the Best Lighting Award.
  • Saint Espresso, the Best Filter Coffee in 2015.
  • Electric Coffee Company, the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station.
  • Cup North 2015, the Best Saturday Supplement.
  • Farm Girl Cafe, the Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating.
  • Flat Caps Coffee, who served my Best Espresso of 2015.
  • Pave Coffee, the winner of this year's Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
  • Mr Wolfe, recipient of this year's Best Cake Award.
  • Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills, the Best Roaster/Retailer for 2015.
  • Slate Coffee Roasters, the Best Overseas Coffee Spot.
  • Marmadukes Cafe Deli, winner of the Best Physical Space Award.
  • Beany Green, Euston, the Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff.
  • Lemana Coffee & Kitchen, winner of this year's Best Breakfast Award.
  • Coffee Tasting Flight at Slate, this year's Most Passionate About Coffee.
  • Greenhood Coffee House, winners of the 2015 Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award.
  • Made by Knock: Hausgrind and Feldgrind, 2015's Most Popular Coffee Spot.
Amid Giants & Idols, the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot.1 Notes, Canary Wharf, winner of this year's Best Takeaway Coffee Award.2 Daisy Green, 2015's Coffee Spot with the Best Basement.3 G!RO Cycles, the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot.4 Society Cafe, The Corridor, winner of the Best Lighting Award.5 Saint Espresso, the Best Filter Coffee in 2015.6 Electric Coffee Company, the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station.7 Cup North 2015, the Best Saturday Supplement.8 Farm Girl Cafe, the Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating.9 Flat Caps Coffee, who served my Best Espresso of 2015.10 Pave Coffee, the winner of this year's Smallest Coffee Spot Award.11 Mr Wolfe, recipient of this year's Best Cake Award.12 Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills, the Best Roaster/Retailer for 2015.13 Slate Coffee Roasters, the Best Overseas Coffee Spot.14 Marmadukes Cafe Deli, winner of the Best Physical Space Award.15 Beany Green, Euston, the Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff.16 Lemana Coffee & Kitchen, winner of this year's Best Breakfast Award.17 Coffee Tasting Flight at Slate, this year's Most Passionate About Coffee.18 Greenhood Coffee House, winners of the 2015 Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award.19 Made by Knock: Hausgrind and Feldgrind, 2015's Most Popular Coffee Spot.20
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So, without further ado, let’s see who won.

Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Kaffeine at Lord’s)

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

Although I’d heard a lot about Amid Giants & Idols, I really wasn’t expecting such an amazing place (and with such great coffee, all roasted on site) to be tucked away in the small seaside resort of Lyme Regis. I stand corrected! Definitely one of the highlights of 2015!

Runners-up: 6/8 Kafe, Millenium Point for bringing great coffee to a mainstream setting in Birmingham and Soulshine Café, more great coffee in Dorset (this time in Bridport).

Best Takeaway Coffee (2014 Winner: Tamp Culture)

Amazing latte art in my JOCO Cup at Notes, Canary Wharf.Notes, Canary Wharf

Notes, on the concourse of Canary Wharf tube station, has served me some consistently excellent coffee that would shame many busier establishments. Very impressive quality, given the constraints that the staff have to work under. An easy choice, this one.

Runners-up: Noble Espresso, knocking out great coffee in all weathers at King’s Cross, and Beany Green, Euston, my go-to place when I’m unlucky enough to be travelling via Euston.

Coffee Spot with the Best Basement (2014 Winner: The Fleet Street Press)

The letters DAISY, illuminated with light bulbs, with the DIY in green and the AS in redDaisy Green

What can I say? I fell in love with this place the moment I saw it. The inside basement is great, but the outside basement/courtyard is better.

Runners-up: Leyas, a close-run second in Camden Town and Foxcroft & Ginger, still setting the standard for basements!

Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Darkhorse Espresso)

Giro Cycles won the 2015 "Best Coffee Shop for Cyclists" at this year's 2015 UK Coffee Stop Awards.G!RO Cycles

It took me long enough to visit Giro, but it was definitely worth the wait. It’s a lovely spot, with some great coffee and food. I can also see why the cyclists love it some much. However, as well as being for the cycling community, it’s also a real neighbourhood spot for the town of Esher.

 

Runners-up: Swindon‘s Darkroom Espresso, another one that appeals to the cyclists, and Jesmond‘s Café 1901, definitely a go-to for Saturday brunch.

Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting (new this year)

A black circle surrounding a woman in silhouette blowing on a cup of coffee. The words "Society Cafe with love from Bath" are written around the circle.Society Café, The Corridor

Bath‘s Society Café in Georgian shopping arcade, The Corridor, got shortlisted for several awards. It’s such a beautiful setting and was up against some tough competition in this, the only new award of 2015. However, for the beauty and simplicity of the lighting, I decided that it had to be Society Café, although either of the two runners-up would have been worthy winners.

Runners-up: Soho Grind, for the atmospheric basement and cosy upstairs and Artisan, Ealing, for the paper bags!

Best Filter Coffee (2014 Winner: Bean & Bud)

From a black board behind the counter at Saint Espresso: "Crafting Coffee with Religious Care".Saint Espresso

I’ve been to Saint Espresso a few times this year and each time I’ve been served a filter coffee that has blown my socks off (fortunately not literally). With a rotating cast of roasters, there’s always something new to entice you and I’m looking forward to going back in 2016!

Runners-up: Avenue Coffee, on Glasgow‘s Great Western Road, which roasts and serves some cracking filters, and Swindon‘s Baila Coffee & Vinyl, for the at-the-table Clever Dripper service.

Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Stations (2014 Winner: Coffee Affair)

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

This was another tough one to choose, with a pair of strong runners-up and more good contenders on the shortlist. However, there is something very special going on at the Electric Coffee Company which makes it worth a trip to Ealing Broadway station all by itself. Great coffee (all now roasted in-house down in Sussex), great food and a really friendly, welcoming staff.

Runners-up: Lanark Coffee, taking over Drink, Shop & Dash by King’s Cross and Notes, Canary Wharf, down on the tube station concourse.

Best Saturday Supplement (2014 Winner: Cup North 2014)

Sonali Tailor, who finished third in this year's Tasters Cup, in action at the final in Cup North.Cup North 2015

Still my favourite coffee festival and this year bigger and better than before, with lots of interesting roasters and cafes on display. And cake. And street food. And competitions. Did I mention the coffee-throwing? No? Probably best not to.

Runners-up: Glasgow Coffee Festival, my favourite small coffee festival of the year, and Caffeine Magazine, still maintaining the quality in its third year of publication.

Best Outdoor Seating (2014 Winner: Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House)

Thumbnail - Farm Girl Cafe (DSC_3484t)Farm Girl Café

Farm Girl Café has a lot going for it, including a gorgeous interior, with a lovely mezzanine level, and great breakfast and lunch menus. However, the courtyard, with its high, whitewashed walls, steals it all. Even better, there’s full table service, so you don’t even have to go inside to order. A sheltered, secluded hideaway from the madness that can be Notting Hill.

Runners-up: Marmadukes Café Deli, on a quiet street in Sheffield, and Boston Tea Party, on Bristol‘s Park Street, now with two gardens at the back!

Best Espresso (2014 Winner: Strangers Coffee House)

An espresso in a classic white cup, plus a glass of water, on an oval wooden platter, separated by a tea spoon.Flat Caps Coffee

A winner of the Best Filter Coffee Award in 2013, Newcastle‘s Flat Caps Coffee becomes the first Coffee Spot to win both the Best Filter and the Best Espresso Awards thanks to a sublime shot of Workshop’s Cult of Done seasonal espresso.

Runners-up: Asado Coffee, Pickwick Place, the house-espresso was one of the best I’ve had, and Peregrine Espresso, 14th Street, where I had the same bean as espresso and filter (both sublime).

Smallest Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Bica Coffee House)

The sign above the door at Pavé Coffee: the words "Pavé Coffee" in black on white shield on a black background, with the words "Espresso Bar" underneath in white capitals.Pavé Coffee

I love small coffee shops, I don’t know why. Manchester‘s Pavé Coffee, which used to be Caffeine & Co, made it to the 2013 shortlist under that guise. This year, under new ownership, it’s a very deserved winner!

Runners-up: another Manchester spot, Grindsmith, with its pod down by the river, and the delightful Box Office Coffee in Bridport, in a theatre box office…

Best Cake (2014 Winner: The Wren)

The words Mr Wolfe Cafe in white on black taken from the side of the building.Mr Wolfe

Long before I’d been to Mr Wolfe down in Brighton, I’d heard excellent things about the cake and when I finally got there, I wasn’t disappointed. I was tempted by practically all the cakes on offer and could have stayed there all day!

Runners-up:Birmingham‘s Quarter Horse Coffee, a slice of heaven in a cake, and New York City‘s Blue Bottle Coffee, Chelsea, for its brandy-poached apple buckle with walnut streusel.

Best Roaster/Retailer (2014 Winner: Dear Green Coffee)

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

I’ve a long admired Ancoats’ coffee, which was a runner-up for this Award last year. This year it has moved into beautiful new premises in Manchester‘s Royal Mills and is roasting on-site (behind the counter, in fact!).

Runners-up: Sheffield‘s Foundry Coffee Roaster, consistently turning out some really interesting coffee, and Glasgow‘s Avenue Coffee, another coffee shop roasting on-site.

Best Overseas Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: 3FE)

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

I can’t praise Seattle‘s Slate Coffee Roasters highly enough. A real gem, it was definite highlight of 2015 and the coffee tasting flight is, for me, redefining how speciality coffee could (and should?) be served.

Runners-up: Rival Bros Coffee Bar, a lovely spot in Philadelphia and Télescope in Paris, combining excellent coffee and owls.

Best Physical Space (2014 Winner: Pot Kettle Black)

A pencil drawing of a large bear with scarf streaming behind it, as it peddles an under-sized bicycle.Marmadukes Café Deli

This was one of the stiffest awards to even come up with a shortlist for, but the moment I saw Marmadukes, I knew it would be on the shortlist. I returned to Sheffield in the summer, when the upstairs was open and I knew then it was in a with a great shot. Spread over three floors of a rambling old house, this wonderful coffee shop has something for everyone, as well as great coffee and food.

Runners-up: Ancoats Coffee Co, in the Royal Mills complex in Manchester and Wild & Wood, looking even better in its new home of London Wall.

Happiest Staff (2014 Winner: Beany Green, Paddington)

A pair of multi-coloured, Beany Green banana-themed deckchairs. Each bears the slogan "Your banana needs you" although the word banana is replaced with the picture of a partially-peeled banana.Beany Green, Euston

Beany Green has always had a reputation for friendliness: popping in is like meeting up with old friends, but there’s something very special about the Regent’s Place branch by Euston station. The fact that the lovely Suzy is the manager and one of my favourite baristas, Chrissie, is behind the espresso machine, might just have had something to do with it…

Runners-up: Manchester‘s Pavé Coffee, run by the lovely Dan, and Upshot Espresso in Sheffield, where Sam, Neal and the team are just awesome.

Best Breakfast (2014 Winner: Saint Kitchen)

A Has Bean coffee sack hanging from the counter at Lemana Coffee & Kitchen.Lemana Coffee & Kitchen

Lemana has upped its coffee game this year, but it’s also upped its tea game as well, all without losing any of its warmth and friendliness. However, its food has long been its standout, particularly its cakes and legendary breakfasts, for which it deservedly wins this year’s award. I took a couple of friends along to try out all the options and we came away very, very impressed.

Runners-up: Tamper Coffee, Sellers Wheel, a go-to brunch spot in Sheffield, a city full of good breakfast options, and La Colombe, in Philadelphia‘s Fishtown, where I had an amazing BBQ bean skillet.

Most Passionate About Coffee (2014 Winner: Colonna & Small’s)

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

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Slate has redefined the way I think about serving speciality coffee. Worth travelling all the way across America to Seattle on the train!

Runners-up: Bond Street Coffee, doing great things down in Brighton, and BLK Coffee, a young lady following her coffee-fuelled dream in Newcastle.

Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2014 Winner: Machina Espresso)

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

Another person following a coffee-fuelled dream is Rory of Greenhood Coffee House. He’d only been open a matter of weeks when I swung by, but it was already blindingly obvious that he had created something very special in Beeston. Great coffee in some very cleverly worked surroundings.

Runners-up: Street Bean Coffee, putting the caring into coffee in Seattle since 2009 and Dovecot Café by Stag Espresso in Edinburgh. Although Stag Espresso has now handed the baton on, this is recognition of a job well done.

Most Popular Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Artigiano Espresso, Exeter)

Two sets of wooden cylinders for Knock's feldgrind hand-grinders.Made by Knock: Hausgrind and Feldgrind

I had no idea that so many of you shared my passion for well made and above all beautiful hand grinders. Knock has set the standard with its hausgrind and feldgrind range which have been joined this year by the feldwood and feldfarb, further variations on the feldgrind. With over 1,000 views this year, my Saturday Supplement piece of Knock was the runaway winner.

Runners-up: Beany Green, Liverpool Street came in a creditable second place, while Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills came in third despite only having been published (and opened) in November!


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