Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2017, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2016 by Idle Hands Pop-up. 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.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Little Victories is the new sibling of Small St Espresso, one of Bristol’s original speciality coffee shops. It would have been very easy for the owners, Chris and John, to create Small St Mk II when they opened Little Victories, but they were determined to something unique in its own right. The only similarity between the two is the excellent coffee. Little Victories has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Best Outdoor Seating Awards.
There was something very special about Go Get Em Tiger on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, a real energy and love for great coffee. If I could put it into words or bottle it, I could earn a living as a consultant to the coffee industry. Instead I’ll just stick to the Coffee Spot 🙂 Go Get Em Tiger was also shortlisted for this year’s Best Outdoor Seating and Happiest Staff Awards.
I first came across Café Integral in New York City, at the now closed branch inside American Two Shot. I was struck by the passion of the owners, the Vega family, who started the busy because they couldn’t find a decent cup of Nicaraguan coffee in the city. Now they import and roast wonderful Nicaraguan coffee in New York and Chicago. Café Integral has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Best Cake Awards.
Café Grumpy is my favourite coffee shop/roaster mini-chain in New York City. Despite the name, is one of the least grumpy places I’ve been. I ran into one of the owners while I was there and was struck by the commitment and passion, still going strong after 10 years! Café Grumpy has also been shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.
Tokyo’s The Local Coffee Stand was a chance discovery on my way to the office when I was there for work in April. A multi-roaster, it was set-up to showcase speciality coffee from all over Japan while the upstairs is home to a training school, all committed to improving the standard of Japanese coffee. The Local Coffee Stand has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Multiple places could have made it onto this shortlist for the dedicated and passion that it takes to stand outside in the elements and make coffee. However, the nod goes to Lever & Bloom and its owner, Mounir, in Byng Place, Bloomsbury. Lever & Bloom has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station and Best Takeaway Coffee Awards.
In many ways, Bristol’s Alex Does Coffee is a modest affair, a simple counter at the back of an open space, offering a cut-down espresso-based menu using the local Extract Coffee Roasters. What struck me was the drive of the owner, Alex, which lifts Alex Does Coffee far above the ordinary. Alex Does Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
I always admire places which have a clear vision behind them. One such place is Bristol’s Coffee + Beer, set up by Dan Williams after a few months spent in New Zealand, where he found multiple speciality coffee & craft beer shops that were missing in the UK. So he set one up. Coffee + Beer has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Award.
Good coffee in office buildings is hard to come by and its far too easy to play it safe. Not so when it comes to Infuse Coffee & Tea Bar in Chicago. Showcasing roasters both from Chicago and across America, Infuse is delivering a top quality coffee in a mainstream setting. Infuse has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
On the ground floor of an old house in a quiet, residential part of Tokyo, it has been painstakingly renovated/converted by the owners, a married couple who live upstairs. You can sense the love that they have for the place in everything they do. Nem Coffee & Espresso has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Espresso Awards.
Stage Espresso and Brew Bar is a new arrival in Leeds’ growing speciality coffee scene. Set up early this year by two brothers, Stage exists to showcase great coffee, with a range of options on espresso and pour-over from London’s Union Hand-roasted.
Stage Espresso and Brew Bar has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
Coffee Island is an international chain with over 300 shops throughout Greece, Cyprus and south-east Europe. Its branch on St Martin’s Lane is (so far) the only UK one. I describe it as coffee geeks meet mainstream, so while there’s a house-blend, decaf and five single-origins, there’s also flavoured coffee. On the geek side, there’s espresso, Greek coffee (Ibrik), bulk-brew or pour-over using the V60, Aeropress or Chemex (for one or two).
Carvetii Coffee Roasters represents an object lesson in how to build a speciality coffee business in a non-speciality area from the ground up. Gareth and Angharad, the couple behind Carvetii, are two of the most thoughtful and committed people that I’ve met in my five years of the Coffee Spot. Carvetii Coffee Roasters has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Shanghai has a small but growing speciality coffee scene. One of my favourites is Little Bean Roastery in Pudong, a roastery, coffee shop, bakery and training lab. In a country best known for its tea, the commitment to quality and excellence in the speciality coffee industry is second to none.
Coffee Lab is a fast-growing mini-chain that started life in Winchester. The head barista is none other than six-time UK Latte Art Champion, Dhan Tamang, one of the nicest people I’ve met in coffee. Dhan’s passion and commitment is amazing, so I guess that this shortlist entry is as much for Dhan as for anything else. Coffee Lab, Salisbury has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2017.
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