2016 Awards – Best Outdoor Seating

We kick off the third day of the 2016 Coffee Spot Awards with the shortlist for the “Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating” Award, celebrating all those wonderful Coffee Spots with excellent outdoor seating. This was won last year by Farm Girl Café.

To qualify for this award, it’s not just a case of sticking a couple of tables or chairs on the pavement outside your coffee shop. Too often, what could be a lovely spot is marred by traffic noise, or cramped conditions, or just being in the wrong place. The best outside seating is often away from the road and passing pedestrians and offers shelter from the wind, rain and/or sun (although rarely all three at once!). Fortunately, there are plenty of Coffee Spots which do exactly that and this is one award I could have filled many times over!

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Cafe Grumpy, in Chelsea (New York, not London) has a lovely garden out back.
  • Kalm Kitchen Cafe in my home town of Guildford, with its outdoor coffee terrace.
  • Expresso Base, in a churchyard in Bloomsbury, London.
  • Ox Coffee in Philadelphia, now with a shady back graden.
  • Uncommon Ground Coffee Roastery in Cardiff’s Royal Arcade has some great outside seats.
  • Tradewind Espresso, from Bristol, is another with a lovely garden at the back.
  • Portland's Tandem Coffee + Bakery, on the other hand, has its seating out front.
  • The Look Mum No Hands Pop-up on the South Bank has bigger/better seating every year!
  • Coleman Coffee Roasters on London's Lower Marsh has perhaps the cosiest garden of all.
  • The tables at Reading's C.U.P. are secluded and south-facing, a winning combination.
  • Another Pop Up in Digbeth, where the tables out front have a poolside view.
  • Copenhagen's Coffee Collective has all the seating of the Torvehallerne to call on.
Cafe Grumpy, in Chelsea (New York, not London) has a lovely garden out back.1 Kalm Kitchen Cafe in my home town of Guildford, with its outdoor coffee terrace.2 Expresso Base, in a churchyard in Bloomsbury, London.3 Ox Coffee in Philadelphia, now with a shady back graden.4 Uncommon Ground Coffee Roastery in Cardiff’s Royal Arcade has some great outside seats.5 Tradewind Espresso, from Bristol, is another with a lovely garden at the back.6 Portland's Tandem Coffee + Bakery, on the other hand, has its seating out front.7 The Look Mum No Hands Pop-up on the South Bank has bigger/better seating every year!8 Coleman Coffee Roasters on London's Lower Marsh has perhaps the cosiest garden of all.9 The tables at Reading's C.U.P. are secluded and south-facing, a winning combination.10 Another Pop Up in Digbeth, where the tables out front have a poolside view.11 Copenhagen's Coffee Collective has all the seating of the Torvehallerne to call on.12
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There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The somewhat unwelcoming Cafe Grumpy sign: an elongated oval, stylised as a face, with frowning eyebrows and a downturned mouth.Café Grumpy Chelsea

Café Grumpy in Chelsea (New York City, not London) has a lovely outdoor seating area in the garden at the back of the store, although it was closed for the winter while I was. Café Grumpy is also shortlised for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.

The Kalm Kitchen logo, the words "Kalm Kitchen" written five times around the circumference of a circle, with the letters "K.K" in the centre, all in white on grey.Kalm Kitchen Café

Kalm Kitchen Café in my home town of Guildford, has an excellent, sheltered terrace at the back of the café, while if you fancy catching the sun, then there are more tables at the top of the terrace in a pedestrianised area just off the street. You have to go inside to order, but everything gets brought out to you. I do recommend leaving someone to guard the table though: they’re in high demand!

An espresso at London's Expresso Base, in an interesting, ribbed, handleless cupExpresso Base

Bloomsbury’s Expresso Base is in the churchyard of St George’s Church. Other than a Gazebo at the back sheltering the espresso machine, everything is outdoors, although large umbrellas provide some protection from the elements. It’s a beautifully-secluded spot though, set back from the street and with tall buildings on three sides. Expresso Base is also shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.

A beautiful Gibraltar (Cortado) from Ox Coffee.Ox Coffee

When I first visited Philadelphia‘s Ox Coffee, it just occupied a simple, small room. Since then it’s added a back room and, even better, a wonderfully secluded garden at the back of the store. It was a bit chilly when I visited back in February, but come the warmer months, I can see it being an instant hit. Surrounded by quiet, residential buildings, it’s a well-sheltered spot.

The word "Uncommon GROUND COFFEE ROASTERY" written in black inside a white circle on a black background.Uncommon Ground Coffee Roastery

Cardiff‘s Uncommon Ground Coffee Roastery makes its home in the fantastic Royal Arcade, which provides the backdrop for the line of tables. Technically, therefore, this isn’t outdoor seating, since it’s inside the arcade. However, it’s outside the coffee shop, so that’s close enough for me (there are times I wish I’d called this the “Best External Seating” Award). Uncommon Ground is also shortlisted for the Best Lighting Award.

a line-drawing of an old-fashioned ship, slung under a large, Victorian balloon.Tradewind Espresso

Bristol‘s Tradewind Espresso is another with a lovely seating area at the back of the store, although this is less of a garden than the others on the shortlist. However, it too is a wonderfully sheltered, secluded spot which also provides some protection from the elements. You can also sit out front on a bench, but the traffic on Whiteladies Road make this a less appealing option. Tradewind Espresso is also shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

A dual-hopper Malhkonig Coffee Grinder with three bags of Tandem Coffee Roasters coffee in front of it, each with Tandem's logo of a stick-figure tandem bicycle.Tandem Coffee + Bakery

Tandem Coffee + Bakery is the second Tandem Coffee outlet in Portland (Maine) after the coffee bar at the roastery. It occupies an old gas (petrol) station and makes good use of the setting. At the front of the store, sheltered under the concrete awning which vaults from the roof of the building, are some picnic tables, taking the spot where the petrol (gas) pumps used to be. Not only does this provide shade and shelter from the rain, but since it’s well set-back from the road, it’s fairly quiet too.

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.Look Mum No Hands! Pop-up 2016

Each year the Look Mum No Hands! Pop-up seems to return to its home under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank bigger and better than before. This year was no exception and it saw an increased seating area, complete with tables and banked rows of stadium seating, all under the shelter of the bridge. Look Mum No Hands! is also shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

A piccolo with a tulip latte art pattern in a glass on a glass saucer, seen from directly above.Coleman Coffee Roasters

Coleman Coffee Roasters, on Lower Marsh behind London’s Waterloo Station. It has an amazing, secluded garden at the back, surrounded by high walls and home to several wonderful bushes/trees. Coleman Coffee Roasters is also shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station, Best Espresso and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.

A saucer, seen above, with the outline of a cup drawn on the base of the saucer. The words "Coffee Under Pressure" are written around the circumference of the outline. In the centre is a black circle with "C.U.P." written in white in the very centre.C.U.P.

Reading’s Coffee Under Pressure (or C.U.P.) is hidden away to the north of Reading Minister. A wonderfully secluded spot, the tables at the front of the shop catch the sun pretty much all day long. Set away from the road, there’s no worry about traffic noise and the backdrop of the Minster just makes everything better. Coffee Under Pressure is also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.

The words "Another Pop Up in Digbeth" written in orange inside an orange circle on a blue background. POP UP is in capitals, with the space in the O replaced by an upwards-pointing arrow.Another Pop Up in Digbeth

Located in one of the inner courtyards of Birmingham‘s Custard Factory, Another Pop Up in Digbeth has plenty of tables out front, all of which have a poolside view across the courtyard. It’s a peaceful spot, although sadly there’s no shelter from the rain. However, as a place to escape the office for your morning coffee or to grab a moment to have your lunch, it can’t be beaten.

My cortado, seen from above, at Coffee Collective, Torvehallerne, in Copenhagen.Coffee Collective, Torvehallerne

Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective brings speciality coffee to the mainstream in the Torvehallerne food hall in the centre of the city. You have all of Torvehallerne’s extensive outside seating at your disposal, including the tables immediately in front of the Coffee Collective. Coffee Collective is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.

A special mention also needs to go to the following:

Wyndham Tea, another fine array of seating in a Cardiff Arcade
The Crazy Fox, with its tables outside on Bristol‘s Broadmead
Artigiano Espresso, Reading, with its outside seating area on Broad Street
Gimme! Coffee, Roebling Street, which has a neat, recessed seating area out front

And the winner is Expresso Base
Runners-up: Coleman Coffee Roasters and Look Mum No Hands! Pop-up 2016

Gennaro, owner of Expresso Base, has dedicated this award to his former business partner, Vittorio Caberlotto, who created the garden and the seats at Expresso Base and who sadly passed away last year.

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


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