2016 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

The sign from the window of Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle: the words 'SLATE COFFEE ROASTERS', one word per lineWelcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2016, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2015 by Coffee Tasting Flight at Slate. For me, this is one of the most important awards, and also one of the hardest to judge, which is why I’ve left it to the last day.

It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. Everyone who I’ve covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there, both for the coffee and for those who make it. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Silhouette, sadly gone from Hackney, only to reappear in Cheapside.
  • Extract Coffee Roasters, still tinkering, still roasting.
  • Coleman Coffee Roasters, where all sorts of wonderful things are going on.
  • Muni Coffee Co, pioneers who are bringing Filipino speciality coffee to London.
  • Coffee Angel HQ, another branch of the excellent Dublin chain.
  • Bop, pusahing forward the boundaries of speciality coffee (& vinyl) in Porto.
  • Frequency, where the onwers' passion shines through in everything they do.
  • Cafe Integral, American Two Shot, championing speciality coffee in Nicaragua.
  • Idle Hands Pop-up: perservence wins out in Manchester.
  • Stir Coffee Brixton, another place where the passion shines through.
  • The Speciality Coffee Shop, driven by the infectious enthusiasm of the owners.
  • Outpost Coffee, another beacon of enthusiasm for speciality coffee in Nottingham.
Silhouette, sadly gone from Hackney, only to reappear in Cheapside.1 Extract Coffee Roasters, still tinkering, still roasting.2 Coleman Coffee Roasters, where all sorts of wonderful things are going on.3 Muni Coffee Co, pioneers who are bringing Filipino speciality coffee to London.4 Coffee Angel HQ, another branch of the excellent Dublin chain.5 Bop, pusahing forward the boundaries of speciality coffee (& vinyl) in Porto.6 Frequency, where the onwers' passion shines through in everything they do.7 Cafe Integral, American Two Shot, championing speciality coffee in Nicaragua.8 Idle Hands Pop-up: perservence wins out in Manchester.9 Stir Coffee Brixton, another place where the passion shines through.10 The Speciality Coffee Shop, driven by the infectious enthusiasm of the owners.11 Outpost Coffee, another beacon of enthusiasm for speciality coffee in Nottingham.12
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There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A flat white, seen from above, with tulip pattern latte art in a white cup on a white saucer.Silhouette

I first came across Silhouette in Hackney, where I also met the owners, Lee and Syirin, and was struck by their dedication. The bad news is that the Hackney shop has had to close, but the good news is that Silhouette is back on Cheapside (inside a branch of Hummus Bros) and is doing better than ever! Silhouette is also shortlisted for the Best Filter Award.

A large, black bomb drops vertically down the centre of the poster with the words "Stop Worrying, Love The Brew" at the bottom.Extract Coffee Roasters

Most coffee roasters are pretty passionate about what they do. What makes Bristol-based Extract stand out from the crowd is the dedication to the roasters themselves. Other than James, the 5kg Ozturk roaster which Extract started out with, all the roasters are second-hand, all extensively refurbished and modified too, and yes, they all have names. Extract is also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

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

Jack Coleman, who’s been roasting since 2010, only opened his shop on London’s Lower Marsh this year, but it’s already a big hit. Jack’s not afraid to go his own way and do his own thing, as witnessed by his espresso blend, served two ways. Coleman Coffee Roasters is also shortlisted for the Best Espresso, Best Outdoor Seating and Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Awards.

The Muni Coffee Co. logo from the wall behind the counter at the Fulham Road coffee shop.Muni Coffee Co.

I first came across Muni Coffee Co. when I back it on Kickstarter. Even then I was struck by the passion to bring speciality Filipino coffee to the UK. Fast forward a year or so and Muni Coffee Co. now has a lovely cafe in Fulham, serving some great coffee.

Detail from a box of Coffee Angel coffee, a Kainamui AA from Kenyan.Coffee Angel HQ

Coffee Angel is one of the longer-standing players in Dublin’s emerging speciality coffee scene. I visited the (then) newly-opened Coffee Angel HQ in the heart of Dublin and was struck by many things, not least the attention to detail, investment (such as the latest Marco Systems SP9 brewers) and the dedication shown by all the staff. Coffee Angel HQ is also shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.

A black-and-white cartoon of a man's head, holding a coffee cup to his ear, as if he is listening to it. This appears above the letters "BOP".Bop

Porto was not somewhere I expected to find speciality coffee when I visited this spring. However, not only did I find great coffee, but I also found a scene that was homegrown and using locally-roasted coffee. This passion for speciality coffee was nowhere more evident than Bop, which was fusing a traditional Portuguese cafe/bar culture with speciality coffee (and vinyl records).

Thumbnail - Frequency Ltd (20160826_083227)Frequency

Frequency is, in many ways, exactly the sort of place I set up the Coffee Spot to promote. A small business in all senses of the word and slightly off the beaten track along the way from King’s Cross, it’s “just” a couple, Justo and Joey, wanting to run an excellent cafe, driven by a passion for great coffee. Frequency is also shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.

A single-serve Kalita Wave filter at Cafe Integral, New York City, seen from above.Café Integral, American Two Shot

It’s no surprise that many of the entries on the shortlist are family-run affairs. Café Integral, inside the American Two Shot clothing store in New York, is run by the Vega family, who are championing Nicaraguan speciality coffee with a cafe here and another in Chicago. They source and roast all their own beans, exclusively from Nicaragua. Café Integral is also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

The Idle Hands logo, taken from the A-board outside the pop-up on Dale Street.Idle Hands Pop-up

I first came across Idle Hands in its original (pop-up) location next to Manchester‘s Piccadilly Station, where I struck by the passion and commitment of the owners, Dave ad Lucy. And they’ve needed every ounce of that as they’ve struggled to get Idle Hands up and running again in its new location, another pop-up, this time on Dale Street, although at least Idle Hands is now next door to its future permanent home. Idle Hands is also shortlisted for the Best Filter Award.

A lovely decaf Brazilian Cortado in a blue espresso cup at Stir Coffee BrixtonStir Coffee Brixton

I ran into one of the owners of Stir Coffee Brixton when I was visiting Rag & Bone Coffee and he bent my ear talked persuasively about  how I should visit Stir. When I did finally get down to Brixton, another of the owners spent five minutes telling me all about the various coffee options and which beans were good (and, unusually, which ones weren’t so good). Stir is also shortlisted for the Best Filter Award.

Michelangelo, joint-owner of The Speciality Coffee Shop, in the mirror above one of the tables.The Speciality Coffee Shop

Nottingham’s The Speciality Coffee is the brainchild of Michelangelo and Lucy. As with everywhere on this shortlist, I was struck with their enthusiasm and dedication. It’s clear that Michelangelo just wants to make (and serve) the best coffee he can. He’s also an example of how you can make outstanding coffee with fairly basic equipment (although there’s been a new espresso machine since I visited). The Speciality Coffee Shop is also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.

The front of Outpost Coffee in NottinghamOutpost Coffee

I’ll wrap up this shortlist by staying in Nottingham with roaster turned coffee shop owner, Outpost Coffee. I first met Greg, the man behind Outpost, last summer, and ever since I’ve been impressed by his dedication in growing not just Outpost but the whole speciality coffee market in the East Midlands. Outpost Coffee is shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award, while Outpost Coffee Roasters is on the shortlist for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

And the winner is Idle Hands Pop-up
Runners-up: Silhouette and Muni Coffee Co.

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


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