2017 Awards – Best Filter Coffee

The modest front of Kiosk: Project Space, on York's Fossgate.We continue the second day with the next shortlist for the 2017 Coffee Spot Awards, the “Best Filter Coffee” Award, which was won last year by Kiosk: Project Space. A major revelation since starting the Coffee Spot is that filter coffee isn’t that over-brewed, stewed muck that bad coffee chains serve out of urns. It’s actually an amazing, delicate drink that has opened my eyes to a whole new world of coffee.

This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which continue to help me on my journey of discovery. To give you an idea of how far I have come since starting the Coffee Spot, I initially owned a cafetiere and an espresso machine and either drank my coffee at home with milk (cafetiere) or as espresso. Now I make the bulk of my coffee with my Aeropress and have a grinder dedicated to filter coffee. I always drink my filter coffee black and increasingly think that if I have to put milk in my coffee to make it drinkable, I’m drinking the wrong coffee!

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Little Victories, sibling of Bristol's Small St Espresso, doing great things with the Chemex.
  • Newcastle's Laneway & Co, with a range of guest beans on Aeropress or, here, V60.
  • Cafe Integral, Chicago, serving some awesome coffee from Nicaragua.
  • Four Barrel Coffee, Valencia. A San Francisco stalwart with a dedicated pour-over bar.
  • Barista Jam in Hong Kong, with a massive range of single-origin pour-overs.
  • The Workshop Coffee, coffee shop/roaster in Vietnam with some lovely pour-overs.
  • La Colombe, Wicker Park, a slice of Philadelphia in Chicago with some unique coffee.
  • 5th Element Coffee, gracing Madison with coffee grown and roasted in El Salvador.
  • Glasgow's Kaf Coffee, making good use of the Kalita Wave with a range of guest roasters.
  • The Coffee Academics, Wan Chai, a second entry from Hong Kong.
  • Jonathon getting his pour-over game on at Guildford's Canopy Coffee.
  • A lovely Rocko Mountain roasted by Strangers and made by the equally lovely Idle Hands.
  • Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Cafe & Store in Witney: same filter, two ways.
  • TAP, Russell Square, the latest TAP, turning out the same excellent pour-over coffee.
  • Little Bean Roastery in Shanghai, knocking it out of the park with an awesome Ethiopean.
Little Victories, sibling of Bristol's Small St Espresso, doing great things with the Chemex.1 Newcastle's Laneway & Co, with a range of guest beans on Aeropress or, here, V60.2 Cafe Integral, Chicago, serving some awesome coffee from Nicaragua.3 Four Barrel Coffee, Valencia. A San Francisco stalwart with a dedicated pour-over bar.4 Barista Jam in Hong Kong, with a massive range of single-origin pour-overs.5 The Workshop Coffee, coffee shop/roaster in Vietnam with some lovely pour-overs.6 La Colombe, Wicker Park, a slice of Philadelphia in Chicago with some unique coffee.7 5th Element Coffee, gracing Madison with coffee grown and roasted in El Salvador. 8 Glasgow's Kaf Coffee, making good use of the Kalita Wave with a range of guest roasters.9 The Coffee Academics, Wan Chai, a second entry from Hong Kong.10 Jonathon getting his pour-over game on at Guildford's Canopy Coffee.11 A lovely Rocko Mountain roasted by Strangers and made by the equally lovely Idle Hands.12 Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Cafe & Store in Witney: same filter, two ways.13 TAP, Russell Square, the latest TAP, turning out the same excellent pour-over coffee.14 Little Bean Roastery in Shanghai, knocking it out of the park with an awesome Ethiopean.15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

Detail from the A-board outside Little Victories in Bristol, explaining the concept and pointing the way to the door...Little Victories

Down by the docks in Bristol. Little Victories is the new sibling of Small St Espresso, one of Bristol’s original speciality coffee shops. However, the two are very different, except when it comes to the excellent of the coffee. Little Victories uses local roasters, Clifton Coffee Roasters, with two options on espresso and two more on available as pour-overs through the Chemex which got it a spot on this year’s shortlist. Little Victories is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Outdoor Seating and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.

A V60 of a Costa Rican coffee from Caravan which I had at Laneway & Co, Newcastle.Laneway & Co

Newcastle‘s Laneway & Co feels like a little slice of London, with coffee from Allpress on espresso, and guests such as Caravan and Square Mile which are available as filter through either the Aeropress or (left) V60. I had a La Palmera from Costa Rica, roasted by Caravan. Made using the V60, it was served, as it should be, in a carafe with a cup on the side.

A cup of the Casablanca single-origin Nicaraguan by Cafe Integral, made with the Modbar pour-over module using a Chemex.Café Integral, Chicago

In the lobby of the Freehand Hotel in Chicago’s River North, Café Integral only serves coffee from Nicaragua, where the owner’s family hails from. I had a Chemex of the delightfully-named Casablanca, a single-origin coffee from the farm of the same name. Served in a conical pottery flask with a cup & saucer on the side, it’s how filter coffee should be. Café Integral is shortlisted for the Best Cake and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.

My decaf cappuccino in a beautiful, handleless cup at Four Barrel Coffee, San Francisco.Four Barrel Coffee, Valencia

A stalwart of San Francisco’s speciality coffee scene, Four Barrel Coffee roasts and serves some excellent coffee. It’s gained a spot on today’s shortlist thanks to its dedicated pour-over bar, offering a range of single-origin coffees. Four Barrel is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Cake and Best Roaster/Retailer Awards.

My Indonesian West Java Arananis Honey Process pour-over, served in a carafe with a glass on the side at Barista Jam.Barista Jam

The first of two entries from Hong Kong, Barista Jam serves some superb coffee, with an excellent range of single-origins, all roasted in-house. You can have any of these as a pour-over, served in a narrow conical carafe, glass on the side. I had an Indonesian single-origin. Full of big flavours, I now understand what people mean when they describe a coffee as “boozy”. Barista Jam has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.

My espresso surveys the room in The Workshop Coffee, Ho Chi Minh CityThe Workshop Coffee

Yet another coffee shop/roaster, The Workshop Coffee from Ho Chi Minh City, there’s a range of coffee from both Vietnam and around the world. I tried a Vietnamese single-origin through the woodneck filter, my first taste of Vietnamese speciality coffee. The Workshop Coffee was also shortlisted for the Coffee Shop with the Best Lighting and Best Physical Space Awards.

A pour-over from Myanmar, made at La Colombe in Wicker Park, Chicago, and served in one of La Colombe's much-loved cups, complete with matching saucer.La Colombe, Wicker Park

The  Philadelphia-based roaster/coffee shop chain is very active in Chicago, serving its distinctive range of coffees. I had my first ever coffee from Myanmar,a single-origin on pour-over through the Silverton Dripper. It had a syrupy sweetness to it and tasted even sweeter when almost cold! La Colombe was also shortlisted for this year’s Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Award.

An espresso, plus a glass of sparkling water, beautifully presented at 5th Element Coffee in Madison.5th Element Coffee

5th Element Coffee in Madison, one of my favourite discoveries of 2017, is sadly now closed. Serving coffee grown and roasted in El Salvador, I had a Finca Esparanza as a V60 pour-over which came into its own as it cooled, tasting just as good, if not better, at the bottom of the cup. 5th Element is also on the Best Espresso and Best Cake shortlists.

A Kalita Wave pour-over brewing at The Kaf in Glasgow.Kaf Coffee

A new addition this year to Glasgow‘s growing speciality coffee scene, Kaf Coffee is a multi-roaster with a selection of single-origins on pour-over through the Kalita Wave. I had a Rwandan from Fortitude, one of a crop of Edinburgh coffee shops which have turned to roasting. Very delicate, fruity and subtle, it more than held its own as it cooled. Kaf Coffee has also been shortlisted for this year’s Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

One of the many interesting statements on the seats of the stools at the communal tables at the Wan Chai branch of The Coffee Academics in Hong Kong.The Coffee Academics, Wan Chai

Hong Kong’s second entry is The Coffee Academics, with a dedicated filter page on its menu offering a house-blend and four single-origins, all matched to a pair of preparation methods (Chemex and ice-drip for pour-over, Aeropress and Clever Dripper for immersion). I had an Ethiopian Kochere through the Clever Dripper. The Coffee Academics has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.

A lovely espresso in a classic white cup being enjoyed in the sun at Canopy Coffee, Guildford.Canopy Coffee

After years of waiting, my hometown of Guildford now has two excellent coffee shops with the opening of Canopy Coffee this summer. I’m a regular visitor and the owner, Jonathon, is always treating me to various pour-overs from roasters around the country. There’s usually a choice of two single-origins available through the Chemex or Kalita Wave. Canopy has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Cake Awards.

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

Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had has come from Idle Hands. I caught its latest incarnation, a pop-up at Manchester-based Grub when it was at Mayfield Road, (both Grub and Idle Hands have moved on since then) when Dave made me a rich, juicy Ethiopian Rocko Mountain from Norwich’s Strangers Coffee through the Aeropress. Idle Hands was also shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee and Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Awards.

An Ethiopian Aramo, made through the Chemex, served in one of Ue Coffee Roasters' excellent cups.Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Café & Store

For years, the UK’s only wood-fired coffee roaster, has been turning out excellent coffee in Witney. Now, in the Ue Coffee Roasters True Artisan Café & Store, it has its own coffee shop where I had an Ethiopian Aramo through the Chemex, but made two different ways. Coffee geek heaven! Ue is also shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.

A beautifully-presented filter coffee at TAP, Russell Square, served on a wooden tray with the coffee in a metal jug and a tulip cup on the side.TAP, Russell Square

I’ve always liked TAP’s pour-over offerings and the new store, on Russell Square, is no exception. I had a Guatemala Petaton Huehuetenango, a lovely brew, rich, sweet and nicely balanced. Served in a metal jug with a tulip cup on the side, it was beautifully-presented on a small wooden with circular hollows, one each for the cup and jug.

Detail from a very on-point A-board outside the Little Bean Roastery in Pudong, Shanghai.Little Bean Roastery

I’d had coffee from the Little Bean Roastery on my previous trip to Shanghai in 2016, but a serendipitous discovery led me to its delightful coffee shop in Pudong. I had an awesome Ethiopian Burtukaana, a naturally-processed coffee made through the V60 and served, as it should be, in a carafe with the cup on the side. Little Bean has also been shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.


And the winner is Café Integral, Chicago
Runners-up: Little Bean Roastery and La Colombe, Wicker Park

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


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