2016 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

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.Welcome to this year’s penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, won last year by Greenhood Coffee House. This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Slate Coffee Roasters, which I'm still raving about after eighteen months!
  • Neighbourhood Coffee, building speciality coffee in Liverpool, one bad pun at a time.
  • Under Pressure Espresso, bringing great coffee to the suburbs.
  • Intelligentsia, Jackson Boulevard, which still has a special place in my heart.
  • Kaffeine Eastcastle, doing all the little (and unnoticed) things well.
  • Prolog Coffee Bar, roasting and serving great coffee in Copenhagen.
  • Lyle's, excellent coffee, served with minimum fuss, in a busy London restaurant.
  • Rag & Bone Coffee, knocking out great coffee, out in the open, in all weathers.
  • MacIntyre Coffee, gleaming Modbars and a pair of Steampunk machines to boot.
  • Espresso Library, coffee excellence and a lot more besides in Cambridge.
  • Ogawa, Boston, blending Japanese and American speciality coffee culture.
  • The Roasting Party, where the party boys of speciality coffee reveal their serious side.
Slate Coffee Roasters, which I'm still raving about after eighteen months!1 Neighbourhood Coffee, building speciality coffee in Liverpool, one bad pun at a time.2 Under Pressure Espresso, bringing great coffee to the suburbs.3 Intelligentsia, Jackson Boulevard, which still has a special place in my heart.4 Kaffeine Eastcastle, doing all the little (and unnoticed) things well.5 Prolog Coffee Bar, roasting and serving great coffee in Copenhagen.6 Lyle's, excellent coffee, served with minimum fuss, in a busy London restaurant.7 Rag & Bone Coffee, knocking out great coffee, out in the open, in all weathers.8 MacIntyre Coffee, gleaming Modbars and a pair of Steampunk machines to boot.9 Espresso Library, coffee excellence and a lot more besides in Cambridge.10 Ogawa, Boston, blending Japanese and American speciality coffee culture.11 The Roasting Party, where the party boys of speciality coffee reveal their serious side.12
Photo Carousel by WOWSlider.com v4.6

There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

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

It’s been 18 months since I visited Seattle’s Slate Coffee Roasters, but the experience still rates as one of the best I’ve had. Slate Coffee Roasters is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

The label from Neighbourhood Coffee's Ethiopia Sidamo Deri Kocha single-origin coffee, with the catchy name "I Still Haven't Ground What I'm Looking For".Neighbourhood Coffee

Liverpool’s Neighbourhood Coffee stands out for the impressively bad (or good, depending on your perspective) puns used to name the coffee. However, that shouldn’t detract from excellent coffee that Neighbourhood roasts or from the work that it’s doing to build a market for speciality coffee in Merseyside. Neighbourhood Coffee is also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer 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

Opening a speciality coffee can be daunting enough when you do it in a city centre, surrounded by other speciality coffee shops and where there is a proven market. It’s another thing altogether to open one in the suburbs and to build your busy up, one cup of coffee at a time. Under Pressure Espresso is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Cake Awards.

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 no longer do the Where It All Began Award, for which the Intelligentsia branch in downtown Chicago was a shoe-in. Instead, it has a spot here as a key part of my journey into speciality coffee, one which started at Intelligentsia’s marble tables before I even knew where I was going! Intelligentsia is also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.

The front of Kaffeine, door to the left, windows to the right, with a pair of benches in front of the window acting as tables.Kaffeine Eastcastle

The more I learn about Kaffeine and its founder, Peter Dore-Smith, the more impressed I am. The attention to detail that’s gone in Kaffeine’s second branch is stunning. Sadly it’s this sort of thing that also most often goes unnoticed. Kaffeine Eastcastle is also shortlisted for the Best Lighting Award.

Detail taken from a bag of Prolog's Nano Chala beans from Ethiopia.Prolog Coffee Bar

Copenhagen’s Prolog Coffee Bar is one of a new generation of coffee shops and roasters that are appearing in the city, building on the success of the likes of the Coffee Collective and Democratic. What impressed me most about Prolog wasn’t the coffee (which was excellent), but everything else that went with it, including the service, the food and all the other little touches the Prolog make.

A carafe of an Ethiopian single-origin coffee from Koppi made through the Clever Dripper at Lyle's in London.Lyle’s

Great coffee in restaurants is a revolution waiting to happen. Lyle’s, in the heart of Shoreditch, is perhaps a blueprint for how to go about it, with a standalone coffee bar providing diners with great coffee after their meal, but also serving coffee to those who’ve just popped in for coffee.

Lyle’s  is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.

A heart-shaped tulip in my Therma Cup, a white, porcelain reusable mug, with a circular rim and an octagonal interior.Rag & Bone Coffee

There is a special place in my heart for those who make coffee outside, serving up excellent espresso in all weathers, usually with a cheery demeanour. Since for me a large part of my coffee experience is the cafe, I don’t visit nearly enough of these outdoor coffee warriors, so this is for all them really. Rag & Bone Coffee is also shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

The store front of MacIntyre Coffee on St John's Road, London.MacIntyre Coffee

I visited the previous branch of MacIntyre Coffee, took my photos, made my notes, went to write it up and the landlord kicked MacIntyre (and everyone else) out of the building. Other than for the excellent coffee, MacIntyre’s appearance on this shortlist is more a recognition of it having survived a visit from me! MacIntyre is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

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

The Espresso Library is an amazing place, doing amazing things to an exceptional level. Its place on this shortlist is a recognition of that and compensation for not having been on almost every other Award shortlist. The Espresso Library is also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.

The Ogawa Coffee logo from the sign outside the Boston branch on Milk Street.Ogawa Coffee Boston

I’ve never been to Japan, home of the Ogawa chain, so I have no benchmark with which to compare its first overseas venture. All I can say was that my visit to Ogawa, sitting at the counter at the back, was a highlight of my most recent visit to Boston. The blending of American and Japanese coffee cultures is something to behold, while the single-origin coffee tasting flight is something that I wish more coffee shops would do.

The Roasting Party

The Roasting Party was started by three Aussies in Winchester. It’s gone from zero to an impressive operation in just three years. Behind a reputation as the party boys of coffee (the clue’s in the name), there is a clear focus on the coffee business and in building partnerships with the coffee shops it supplies. “Their success is The Roasting Party’s success” sums it up. The Roasting Party is also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

And the winner is Kaffeine Eastcastle
Runners-up: Rag & Bone Coffee and The Espresso Library

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


If you liked this post, please let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you have a WordPress account and you don’t mind everyone knowing that you liked this post, you can use the “Like this” button right at the bottom instead.


Don’t forget that you can share this post with your friends using the buttons below.

5 thoughts on “2016 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

  1. Hi Brian

    Have you tried ‘Pinnocks’ in Ripley, Woking. Beautiful, flavoursome, delightful coffee using the ‘drip method’, worth a try and all food is homemade….amazing cakes.

    Thank you for the interesting reading material, much enjoyable.

    Kind Regards
    Mrs H Sixsmith

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

  3. Pingback: Rag & Bone Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

Please let me know what you think