2016 Awards – Best Breakfast

A Has Bean coffee sack hanging from the counter at Lemana Coffee & Kitchen.We enter the final day of the 2016 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2015 went to Lemana Coffee & Kitchen. Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart. The only slight snag is that I rarely get up and out of the house early enough to get to places before they stop serving breakfast, so they don’t feature on the Coffee Spot as often as I would like!

That said, I still managed to get up early enough to generate a healthy shortlist this year, helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts! In fact, given how often I have things from the breakfast menu for lunch, I wonder if I should rename this award “”Best Brunch””…

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Meadow Road Coffee, where I liked the breakfasts so much I had two (in one sitting)!
  • Ezra & Gil, which served me up an awesome and inventive veggie breakfast.
  • Federal Cafe & Bar: brinner = breakfast for dinner. What more do I need to say?
  • Yorks Cafe & Coffee Roasters, still knocking out awesome breakfasts in Birmingham.
  • Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, my go-to breakfast spot in Boston reborn!
  • No 12 Easton, a little bit of everything in Bristol, including breakfast.
  • Wyndham Tea, where I learn to love baked eggs.
  • Coffee & Fandisha, championing Ethiopian coffee and Ethiopian breakfast too!
  • Beany Green, Paddington, now serving up an awesome brunch menu.
  • Bakesmiths: it's not just for the cakes you know! My mushrooms on toast were awesome.
  • Doctor Espresso N3, expanding into Aussie/English inspired breakfasts.
  • The Cupping Room Central, bringing awesome coffee and Eggs Royale to Hong Kong.
  • Tempo Cafe, my go-to breakfast spot in Chicago, unchanged after many years.
  • Novi in Cambridge where I had two fantastic breakfasts (on two separate visits).
  • Flat Caps Carliol Square, putting its new kitchen to excellent use.
Meadow Road Coffee, where I liked the breakfasts so much I had two (in one sitting)!1 Ezra & Gil, which served me up an awesome and inventive veggie breakfast.2 Federal Cafe & Bar: brinner = breakfast for dinner. What more do I need to say?3 Yorks Cafe & Coffee Roasters, still knocking out awesome breakfasts in Birmingham.4 Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, my go-to breakfast spot in Boston reborn!5 No 12 Easton, a little bit of everything in Bristol, including breakfast.6 Wyndham Tea, where I learn to love baked eggs.7 Coffee & Fandisha, championing Ethiopian coffee and Ethiopian breakfast too!8 Beany Green, Paddington, now serving up an awesome brunch menu.9 Bakesmiths: it's not just for the cakes you know! My mushrooms on toast were awesome.10 Doctor Espresso N3, expanding into Aussie/English inspired breakfasts.11 The Cupping Room Central, bringing awesome coffee and Eggs Royale to Hong Kong.12 Tempo Cafe, my go-to breakfast spot in Chicago, unchanged after many years.13 Novi in Cambridge where I had two fantastic breakfasts (on two separate visits).14 Flat Caps Carliol Square, putting its new kitchen to excellent use.15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The words "Meadow Road" written as is on a street sign, in black on a white background, while perched on top is a black and white line drawing of a bird with a coffee bean in its beak.Meadow Road Coffee

The delightful Meadow Road Coffee is part of Glasgow‘s growing speciality coffee scene. However, it’s here for its food, specifically the pea and mint frittata plus poached egg on toast (although that description does it scant justice). Meadow Road Coffee is also shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

The Ezra & Gil motto "Coffee & Provisions" from one of the signs outside.Ezra & Gil

Manchester’s Ezra & Gil is another that puts as much stock by its food as it does its coffee. I had a sublime veggie breakfast (for lunch) with poached eggs and extra toast. This came with a stuffed courgette, topped with grilled cheese, which is a welcome change from veggie sausages. Even the baked beans were done to perfection. Ezra & Gil is also shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

Detail from the A-board at Federal Cafe & Bar, proudly proclaiming the serving of "Brinner" of Friday evenings.Federal Café & Bar

Staying in Manchester, Federal Café & Bar has the wonderful idea of Brinner, or breakfast for dinner. What’s there not to like? I had Eggs Benedict with  halloumi and avocado. The eggs were done to perfection and the toast also exceptionally well-done. While I liked the avocado, I didn’t think it particularly complemented the eggs. The halloumi, however, was an excellent match: I’ll definitely be having that again.

Detail of the Yorks sign from above the door at Yorks Bakery Cafe, Stephenson Street.Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters

Breakfast has always been Yorks strong suit and despite all the changes, it remains that way. I had a particularly fine shakshuka (baked eggs and yoghurt served in a skillet). Yorks is also shortlisted for the Best Basement and  Best Coffee Shop near a Railway Station Awards.

The tiling in front of the door at Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe: small, white, square tiles with the number "429" above "CHARLIE'S" spelt out in red and black tiles.Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe

At one point I thought my go-to breakfast place in Boston was gone for ever, but it was just being refurbished. To celebrate its return, I had poached eggs on wheat toast, home fries and a griddle cake on the side. Which is what I always have.

Coffee * Provisions * Deli | No 12 | EastonNo 12 Easton

Bristol’s No 12 Easton is a coffee shop, café, deli, grocer, off-licence and, perhaps most importantly of all, a community hang-out space. I tried the fried egg on potato cake, which was served atop a bed of kale and mushroom. It was delicious: the egg done to perfection, the potato cake smooth and light, while the mushroom/kale mixture was a delight. No 12 is also shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.

The Waterloo Tea sign, hanging outside Wyndham Tea, Waterloo Tea's branch in Cardiff's Wyndham Arcade.Wyndham Tea

With it’s all-round coffee & tea excellent, it’s easy to overlook Wyndham Tea’s excellent breakfast options. I had shakshuka: baked eggs in a spiced tomato and pepper sauce with coriander and yoghurt, plus toast on the side. Wyndham Tea is also shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.

A miniature Jebena, the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, on a table at Liverpool's Coffee & FandishaCoffee & Fandisha

Coffee & Fandisha, in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, celebrates Ethiopian coffee culture. It also celebrates its food too. I had the Ful Medames, a traditional Ethiopian dish of lightly-spiced beans mixed with sliced, boiled egg and tomatoes, topped with feta and served with warm pita bread which was awesome. Coffee & Fandisha is also shortlisted for the Best Lighting Award.

Brunch at Beany Green (Liverpool Street) - Shakshouka (Baked Eggs) and Sour Dough ToastBeany Green, Paddington

There was a time when Beany Green at Paddington was my go-to (office) Coffee Spot. Since then it’s evolved to include an excellent breakfast/brunch menu. I had the Broccoli and Corn Fritters, which were excellent, the fritters in particular going down well, although it was the addition of avocado to the mix that really lifted the whole dish.

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

With all the other goodies available, breakfast at Bristol‘s Bakesmiths is in danger of being overlooked, but don’t! I had some truly awesome mushrooms on toast. Bakesmiths is also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.

The beautiful and beautifully restored two group 1950s Gaggia lever espresso machine at Doctor Espresso N3.Doctor Espresso N3

I associate Fulham’s Doctor Espresso with Italian coffee (and Italy in general) plus old lever espresso machines. However, Doctor Espresso N3 has a large kitchen and has branched out with an Aussie/English inspired all-day breakfast/brunch /lunch menu. I tried the French Toast which was beautifully done, very light, but liberally topped with fruit. Neither too sweet, nor over-cooked, it was perfect.

The square facade of The Cupping Room in Central, facing onto the steeply-sloping Cochrane Street.The Cupping Room Central

Hong Kong’s speciality coffee scene is largely home-grown but western influenced. This is at its most obvious with the food. I had an exceptional Eggs Royale: eggs poached to perfection, yolks runny, whites firm, with a creamy hollandaise sauce. Sometimes the salmon can be over-powering, but here the balance of flavours was just right.The Cupping Room is also shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.

Tempo Cafe in Chicago's Near North neighbourhood.Tempo Café

The few times I stayed in downtown Chicago, Tempo Café was my go-to all-day breakfast spot and I’m pleased to see that it’s not changed. I always order my favourite, Eggs Florentine, served on English muffins with home-fried potatoes, plus a side of toast, and, if I’m feeling indulgent, a pancake or two.

Detail taken from the A board outside Novi on Cambridge's Regent Street. Novi

I’ve had breakfast twice in Novi. The first time it was  the scrambled eggs and griddled homemade cornbread, which was excellent. On my return, I tried the chia and coconut flour pancakes, with mixed fruits and maple cream. Both were superb: the scrambled eggs creamy and zingy, the pancakes with a delightful savoury feel to them.

The Flat Caps Coffee logo, taken from a bag of coffee roasted to mark Flat Caps' successful Kickstarter.Flat Caps Carliol Square

On taking over the Carliol Square space, Newcastle’s Flat Caps Coffee also inherited the kitchen which has been put to good use. I had avocado and poached eggs on toast, consisting of two slices of sour-dough toast, each covered with a sliced avocado and drizzled in a sweet, balsamic dressing, with two perfectly-poached eggs perched on top. Flat Caps is also shortlisted for the Best Basement Award.

A special mention also needs to go to the following:

Spitfire Espresso, serving up all sorts of egg-based goodness in Glasgow
Tradewind Espresso, not letting the side down in Bristol with some excellent breakfasts
Shoreditch Grind, which, when I get up early enough, has some wonderful breakfasts

And the winner is Flat Caps Carliol Square
Runners-up: Beany Green, Paddington and Wyndham Tea

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


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