2016 Awards – Best Cake

The words Mr Wolfe Cafe in white on black taken from the side of the building.Welcome to the final 2016 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2015 by Mr Wolfe. Despite what it says on the tag line, the Coffee Spot’s not all about the coffee. After all, what would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this Award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.

This is another of my favourite Awards and while I didn’t visit that many dedicate cake spots, I was nonetheless treated to some absolutely fantastic cake along the way, proving that, like good coffee, the more you look, the more good cake you find.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Sweatleaf Williamsburg, where I discovered doughnut holes.
  • Exeter's Exploding Bakery. Anyone would think that they baked all those cakes on-site...
  • Iris & June, serving up some awesome apple and blackberry pie. With cream.
  • Playground Coffee, which has many positive attributes, including Millionaire's Shortbread.
  • The Cow & Co Cafe, design shop turned coffee shop. With orange & cranberry cake.
  • Under Pressure Espresso has a great selection of cakes. Shame I could only try two.
  • Intelligentsia, Jackson Boulevard, home of an excellent morning bun.
  • Kin, serving up the upside-down pear and apple cake.
  • Filter + Fox, home of the red velvet and custard cream cake.
  • Bakesmiths, sister shop of the awesome Cakesmiths. Need a say more?
  • Talking of not needing to say more, Crosstown Doughnuts has its own coffee shop!
  • Democratic Coffee Bar, serving the best almond croissant in the world. Probably.
  • The Espresso Library, redefining excellence with its sticky date and coconut cake.
  • La Colombe, Blagden Alley, where I discovered the wonders of Monkey Bread.
  • Ultimo Coffee, where the raspberry crumble was so good I wish I'd stolen the recipe!
Sweatleaf Williamsburg, where I discovered doughnut holes. 1 Exeter's Exploding Bakery. Anyone would think that they baked all those cakes on-site...2 Iris & June, serving up some awesome apple and blackberry pie. With cream.3 Playground Coffee, which has many positive attributes, including Millionaire's Shortbread.4 The Cow & Co Cafe, design shop turned coffee shop. With orange & cranberry cake.5 Under Pressure Espresso has a great selection of cakes. Shame I could only try two.6 Intelligentsia, Jackson Boulevard, home of an excellent morning bun.7 Kin, serving up the upside-down pear and apple cake.8 Filter + Fox, home of the red velvet and custard cream cake.9 Bakesmiths, sister shop of the awesome Cakesmiths. Need a say more?10 Talking of not needing to say more, Crosstown Doughnuts has its own coffee shop!11 Democratic Coffee Bar, serving the best almond croissant in the world. Probably.12 The Espresso Library, redefining excellence with its sticky date and coconut cake.13 La Colombe, Blagden Alley, where I discovered the wonders of Monkey Bread.14 Ultimo Coffee, where the raspberry crumble was so good I wish I'd stolen the recipe!15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A mug of black filter coffee in a classic black American diner mug, adorned with Sweatleaf's logo.Sweetleaf Williamsburg

It was at the Williamsburg branch at the wonderful Sweatleaf that I discovered the magnificence that is doughnut holes. Particularly cinnamon ones. The doughnut hole is an excellent invention: bite-sized, sweet, full of doughnut goodness, plus, being a hole, it has no calories whatsoever. Obviously. Sweetleaf roasts all its own coffee, by the way and the Williamsburg branch is lovely.

Excellent Espresso in a Glass from the Exploding Bakery, ExeterExploding Bakery

Part bakery, part coffee shop, the Exploding Bakery in Exeter bakes some amazing cakes, which, unsurprisingly, are available for enjoy with your coffee. Even better, you can sit there and watch them being baked. How wonderful is that? The Exploding Bakery is also shortlisted for the Best Coffee Shop near a Railway Station and the Smallest Coffee Spot Awards.

A black circle with the words "Iris&June" written in white inside itIris & June

Iris & June brings amazing coffee to the area around Victoria Station. And cakes too. I had a slice of the awesome apple and blackberry pie, which came with the offer of cream. A crunchy, sweet pastry case held a generous filling: rich, fruity and bursting with blackberries. Iris & June is also shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Best Coffee Shop near a Railway Station Awards.

The front of Playground Coffee, with the door to the right, window to the left and with a table and two chairs in front of the windowPlayground Coffee

Bristol’s Playground Coffee has many excellent qualities, including its varied cast of roasters (and now there’s gin too). However, I was struck by the slice of millionaires’ shortbread I had, the perfect accompaniment to my coffee. Playground Coffee is also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.

The Cow & Co Cafe logo taken from the front of the menu.The Cow & Co Cafe

Liverpool‘s The Cow & Co Cafe started life as a design shop which slowly morphed into speciality coffee shop. It still retains its roots as a design store, but it was the cake that caught my attention. I was spoilt for choice, eventually selecting the orange & cranberry cake. The Cow & Co Cafe is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to find a Coffee Spot Award.

A wizard is shown underneath a large coffee cup. This is surrounded by lightning and is being filled by a stream of coffee from above.

Under Pressure Espresso

Under Pressure Espresso has an amazing selection of cakes. I nearly had the pecan slice, but in the end the Scandinavian chocolate bun won out, a rich, chewy dough, liberally sprinkled with dark chocolate. Oh, and I had the last slice of the cinnamon streusel (a cinnamon-swirled cake with an immensely rich, coffee cream icing. Coffee Under Pressure is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to find a Coffee Spot Award and Coffee Spot Special Award.

The remains of a shot of Intelligentsia's Black Cat espresso, as seen from above. A five-pointed red star can just be seen at the bottom of the cup, a classic white espresso cup with a big handle.Intelligentsia, Jackson Boulevard

I have very fond memories of Chicago’s Intelligentsia, particularly the branch on Jackson Boulevard where I had a lovely morning bun, a delightful concoction of light pastry dough, topped with crunchy sugar. Intelligentsia is also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot Special Award.

A large chalk drawing of an octopus saying "Yo Kin" in a speech bubble, above the handwritten details of Kin's filter of the weekKin

Kin, in London’s Fitzrovia, has many commendable features, not least its awesome selection of cakes. I was treated to a slice of the pear and apple cake. This consists of two layers of rich, lemon-flavoured cake, separated by a layer of apples, with a layer of pears baked into the bottom of the cake. It’s then served pear-side up. I found it lovely and fruity, while the cake was good enough to eat on its own. I probably should have stolen the recipe.

The writing on the window: Filter + Fox | Cafe - Bar - HideoutFilter + Fox

Liverpool’s Filter + Fox is coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night, where I had an awesome slice of red velvet and custard cream cake. Filter + Fox is also shortlisted for the Best Lighting and Best Physical Space Awards.

Image from the sign above the door at Bakesmiths on Whiteladies Road.Bakesmiths

Another coffee shop, bakery, Bristol‘s Bakesmiths is the coffee shop wing of much-loved Cakesmiths, whose cakes share space with those baked on the premises. Need I say more? Bakesmiths is also shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.

The Crosstown Doughnut logo from outside the coffee shop in Soho.Crosstown Doughnuts

Crosstown Doughnuts is a legend in its own lifetime. Now it has a coffee shop in Soho. With doughnuts. What more could you want? More doughnuts? Well, Crosstown has those too. The coffee’s excellent too. Crosstown is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

A white cup, with the Democratic Coffee logo, an etching of a wolf from a manuscript in the adjacent libraryDemocratic Coffee Bar

I went all the way to Copenhagen and all I had was a great time, some excellent coffee (all roasted in-house) and a most excellent almond croissant, still warm from the oven courtesy of Democratic Coffee Bar. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of its kind.

A bike, hanging on the wall of the Espresso Library in Cambridge.The Espresso Library

The Espresso Library in Cambridge served me a slice of sticky date and coconut cake. This was nothing short of excellent, like a (cold) sticky toffee pudding cake, but without the custard. The Espresso Library is also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot Special Award.

My Ethiopian filter coffee in one of La Colombe's gorgeous cups in its Blagden Alley branch in Washington DC.La Colombe, Blagden Alley

I’m rounding things off with two entries from America. For some reason, American coffee shops tend to have different types/styles of cakes. At La Colombe in Blagden Alley, Washington DC, I had Monkey Bread for the first time. Made from lovely, soft bread, cinnamon sugar and with the occasional nut, it was neither too sweet nor sticky, coming apart in bite-sized chunks in my hands. La Colombe is also shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.

The sign, painted on an old window, on the back wall at Ultimo Coffee's Newbold coffee shop.Ultimo Coffee, Newbold

Philadelphia’s Ultimo Coffee served me a slice of the raspberry crumble. This is a tray bake, with a pastry base and sides which are covered with raspberry jam and topped with crumble, rather like a crumble version of a Bakewell Tart. It was simultaneously really sweet, crunchy and tasty. I enjoyed it so much that I may have to work out how to make it myself!

A special mention also needs to go to the following:

Coffee & Fandisha, which served me a lovely cranberry drizzle cake
Double Knot, where I had both the coffee cake and a lemon bar
The Speciality Coffee Shop, which has an awesome homemade Bakewell Tart
ManCoCo, where I had the Chocolate Rollo Brownie

And the winner is The Espresso Library
Runners-up: Bakesmiths and Crosstown Doughnuts

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2016.


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7 thoughts on “2016 Awards – Best Cake

  1. Pingback: The Espresso Library | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: 2016 Awards – Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. I’ve been enjoying the prodigious output from the coffee spot these past few days. The cake one is of particular interest to me as we embark on our next stage of growth. Currently we have all our cakes home-baked but can’t keep up with demand so we plan to develop our own kitchen and bakery..and if it’s good to hear your thoughts on what makes ‘great cake’!
    Would love to find out what your particular favourite is… Will you share??! Happy days if so!

  4. Pingback: 2016 Awards – Happiest Staff | Brian's Coffee Spot

  5. Pingback: 2016 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award | Brian's Coffee Spot

  6. Pingback: 2016 Awards – Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

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