2017 Awards – Coffee Spot with the Best Basement

"Copenhagen Coffee Lab" written above "Kaffebar & Mikroristeri" on an A-board made of five, vertical wooden planks.Our third shortlist in the 2017 Coffee Spot Awards is the “Coffee Spot with the Best Basement” Award. As regular readers will know, I have a soft spot for Coffee Spots with good basements. In 2016 this went to Copenhagen Coffee Lab, Copenhagen.

To some, a basement is a dark, sometimes dingy, cramped space. However, when they are at their best, basements are cosy, welcoming spaces that provide the perfect spot to curl up with your coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots with outstanding basements, the sort of places you want to go and spend all day in! I didn’t manage to visit that many coffee shops with basements this year, so I’ve included a few places that, while technically not basements, feel like basements, which is good enough for me!

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Nkora, a lovely little spot in Shoreditch with a fantastic basement.
  • Newcastle's Flat Caps Campus North is our first not-quite-a-basement entry this year.
  • 25A Old Market, little sibling of Bristol's No 12 Easton, with an awesome demi-basement.
  • A second Bristol entry, Tincan Coffee Co, Clare Street, now sadly closed.
  • Washington DC's Chinatown Coffee Co is another that's not quite a basement.
  • Glasgow's Primal Roast is one big basement. Well, two basements, actually.
  • Vietnam Coffee Republic, not quite a basement, but close enough to make the list!
  • Belfast's Town Square, another not-quite-a-basement, but you go downstairs to get in.
  • Stage Espresso and Brew Bar, a new addition to Leeds' growing speciality coffee scene.
  • Laynes Espresso always had a great basement, but now it's three times bigger!
  • Hong Kong's Cafe Corridor isn't quite a basement either, but it's close enough!
Nkora, a lovely little spot in Shoreditch with a fantastic basement.1 Newcastle's Flat Caps Campus North is our first not-quite-a-basement entry this year.2 25A Old Market, little sibling of Bristol's No 12 Easton, with an awesome demi-basement.3 A second Bristol entry, Tincan Coffee Co, Clare Street, now sadly closed.4 Washington DC's Chinatown Coffee Co is another that's not quite a basement.5 Glasgow's Primal Roast is one big basement. Well, two basements, actually.6 Vietnam Coffee Republic, not quite a basement, but close enough to make the list!7 Belfast's Town Square, another not-quite-a-basement, but you go downstairs to get in.8 Stage Espresso and Brew Bar, a new addition to Leeds' growing speciality coffee scene.9 Laynes Espresso always had a great basement, but now it's three times bigger!10 Hong Kong's Cafe Corridor isn't quite a basement either, but it's close enough!11
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There are 11 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A fine flat white in a classic grey cup at Nkora in Shoreditch.Nkora

I’m indebted to my friend Alexandra for introducing me to Nkora, a lovely spot in Shoreditch. It has a gorgeous upstairs space and a lovely, secluded garden at the back, but what’s got it a place on today’s shortlist is the amazing, cosy basement which extends the full length of the shop. Nkora is also shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

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

Newcastle‘s Flat Caps Campus North is the third Flat Caps and, despite not being a basement, it has a basement feel to it, which is good enough for me. It carries on the tradition of the original Flat Caps on Ridley Place, which would have won the award had it existed back in 2013, when I first visited. Campus North is a co-working space, with the Flat Caps coffee bar at the back of the communal space downstairs. Flat Caps is on the Best Cake shortlist.

Detail from the window of 25A Old Market in Bristol25A Old Market

25A Old Market is the younger sibling of Bristol’s  No 12 Easton on Old Market Street, east of the city centre. Like No 12, it’s a coffee shop, deli & general provisions store. However, what has earned it a place on this shortlist is the basement, half open to the front window above, with a couple of tables and a very comfortable-looking sofa. 25A Old Market is shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

Detail from the sign outside of the Tincan Coffee Co branch on Clare Street, Bristol.Tincan Coffee Co, Clare Street

A second entry from BristolTincan Coffee Co‘s second bricks-and-mortar store on Clare Street has sadly had to close, which is a shame as it was a lovely spot. The ground floor is bright and airy, but the spacious basement, with its exposed brick walls and multiple seating options, has gained it an entry on today’s shortlist.

The front of Chinatown Coffee Co on H Street in Washington DCChinatown Coffee Co

Washington DC’s Chinatown Coffee Co is a second not-quite-a-basement entry. However, with its long, thin, corridor-like set up, stretch far back from the street, it has more a of basement feel to it than many a basement I’ve been to! There’s a little bit of window-seating right at the front, where you can watch the world go by, but if you sit at the back, like I did, you’ll never know there’s a world outside.

What looks to be a dinosaur's skull from the wall of Primal Roast in Glasgow, holding a Primal Roast takeaway cup between its open jaws.Primal Roast

Glasgow‘s Primal Roast is not one basement, but two. You enter down a flight of stairs into a sunny, area at the front which includes the counter and a more secluded seating area off to the right, but the real basement is at the back, down a long corridor, where you’ll find the dinosaur skull (left) and a range of seating, including tables, comfy chairs and sofas. Primal Roast has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Breakfast Award.

The flat bed of coffee grounds after brewing in a V60 at Vietnam Coffee Republic.Vietnam Coffee Republic

Like Washington DC’s Chinatown Coffee CoVietnam Coffee Republic in Ho Chi Minh City isn’t a basement, but feels like one. Down a long, narrow alley, even the outside seating area at the front doesn’t get much light, while at the back, beyond the counter, there’s a real basement feel to the place. The coffee, by the way, is all grown in Vietnam. Vietnam Coffee Republic is also on this year’s Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award shortlist.

Does what it says on the box: coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, all at Town Square in Belfast.Town Square

A third successive not-quite-a-basement entry is Belfast’s Town Square, although in this case, you do have to go down a couple of steps to get into Town Square, and the main seating area, at the back, has a lovely basement feel to it and a couple more steps. My favourite spot is the cosy alcove right at the back, but frankly anywhere would do. Town Square has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.

The minimalist sign for Stage Espresso and Brewbar, hanging outside on Oxford Row.Stage Espresso and Brew Bar

The first of two entries on this year’s shortlist from LeedsStage Espresso and Brew Bar has a gorgeous, sunlit upstairs, with a long, welcoming basement at the back, although it’s not actually below the upstairs part… Still, it’s a basement in my book. There are tables down there, plus a massive sofa and a large TV which means it can double as a mini-cinema for events. Stage Espresso has also been shortlisted for this year’s Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

The original facade of Laynes Espresso on New Station Street, Leeds, before its expansion.Laynes Espresso

The second entry from Leeds is Laynes Espresso. Laynes always had a great basement, which got it onto the shortlist when I introduced this Award in 2014. Laynes has recently taken over the adjacent building which has meant that the basement has tripled in size. Laynes was also shortlisted for this year’s Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station and Best Breakfast Awards.

A single-origin Colombian espresso in a branded cup from Cafe Corridor in Hong Kong with 'A passage to the coffee world since 2001' written on the inside rim.Café Corridor

Our final entry of the year is another not-quite-a-basement entry. Hong Kong’s Café Corridor is, as the name suggests, down a long corridor and would be a shoe-in for the “Hardest Coffee Spot to Find” Award if I had one! I’m indebted to fellow blogger from Andrea Burton, without whose help I’d have never have found it. It makes the “Best Basement” Award shortlist for it’s subterranean feel. Café Corridor is also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.


And the winner is Laynes Espresso
Runners-up: Primal Roast and Nkora

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2017.


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4 thoughts on “2017 Awards – Coffee Spot with the Best Basement

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