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.
So, without further ado, let’s see who won.
Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Kaffeine at Lord’s)
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!
Best Takeaway Coffee (2014 Winner: Tamp Culture)
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.
Coffee Spot with the Best Basement (2014 Winner: The Fleet Street Press)
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.
Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Darkhorse Espresso)
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.
Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting (new this year)
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.
Best Filter Coffee (2014 Winner: Bean & Bud)
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!
Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Stations (2014 Winner: Coffee Affair)
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.
Best Saturday Supplement (2014 Winner: Cup North 2014)
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.
Best Outdoor Seating (2014 Winner: Fernandez & Wells, Somerset House)
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.
Best Espresso (2014 Winner: Strangers Coffee House)
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.
Smallest Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: Bica Coffee House)
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!
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!
Best Roaster/Retailer (2014 Winner: Dear Green Coffee)
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!).
Best Overseas Coffee Spot (2014 Winner: 3FE)
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.
Best Physical Space (2014 Winner: Pot Kettle Black)
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.
Happiest Staff (2014 Winner: Beany Green, Paddington)
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…
Best Breakfast (2014 Winner: Saint 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.
Most Passionate About Coffee (2014 Winner: Colonna & Small’s)
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!
Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2014 Winner: Machina Espresso)
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)
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.
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