2017 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

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

  • Little Victories in Bristol, eschewing playing it safe when opening a second branch.
  • Go Get Em Tiger, passion and commitment on display in Los Angeles.
  • Cafe Integral, Chicago. Can't get a decent cup of Nicaraguan coffee? Then do it yourself!
  • Cafe Grumpy, Fashion District, anything but grumpy and still going strong after 10 years.
  • The Local Coffee Stand, championing speciality coffee roasters across Japan.
  • Lever & Bloom, delivering great coffee in all weathers in Byng Place, Bloomsbury.
  • Alex Does Coffee, doing what it says on the door in Bristol.
  • Coffee + Beer. Another one doing what it says on the door: speciality coffee & craft beer.
  • Infuse Coffee & Tea Bar, River North Point, refusing to play it safe in office-block coffee.
  • Nem Coffee & Espresso in a painstakingly renovated/converted Tokyo house.
  • Stage Espresso and Brew Bar, setting the stage for great coffee in Leeds.
  • Coffee Island, St Martin's Lane, coffee geek meets mainstream.
  • Carvetii Coffee Roasters, passion and commitment in the Lake District.
  • Little Bean Roastery, flying the flag for commitment to quality & excellence in Shanghai.
  • Coffee Lab, Salisbury, with head barista,  six-time UK Latte Art Champion, Dhan Tamang.
Little Victories in Bristol, eschewing playing it safe when opening a second branch.1 Go Get Em Tiger, passion and commitment on display in Los Angeles.2 Cafe Integral, Chicago. Can't get a decent cup of Nicaraguan coffee? Then do it yourself!3 Cafe Grumpy, Fashion District, anything but grumpy and still going strong after 10 years.4 The Local Coffee Stand, championing speciality coffee roasters across Japan.5 Lever & Bloom, delivering great coffee in all weathers in Byng Place, Bloomsbury.6 Alex Does Coffee, doing what it says on the door in Bristol.7 Coffee + Beer. Another one doing what it says on the door: speciality coffee & craft beer.8 Infuse Coffee & Tea Bar, River North Point, refusing to play it safe in office-block coffee.9 Nem Coffee & Espresso in a painstakingly renovated/converted Tokyo house.10 Stage Espresso and Brew Bar, setting the stage for great coffee in Leeds.11 Coffee Island, St Martin's Lane, coffee geek meets mainstream.12 Carvetii Coffee Roasters, passion and commitment in the Lake District.13 Little Bean Roastery, flying the flag for commitment to quality & excellence in Shanghai.14 Coffee Lab, Salisbury, with head barista,  six-time UK Latte Art Champion, Dhan Tamang.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

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.

A classic cappuccino in a non-classic glass, along with two samples of filter coffee from Go Get Em Tiger on Hollywood Boulevard, LA.Go Get Em Tiger

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.

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

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.

A flat white from Cafe Grumpy, in an orange, six-ounce tulip cup.Café Grumpy, Fashion District

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.

Detail from the A-board outside The Local Coffee Stand in Tokyo, promising Wifi, power and a second floor.The Local Coffee Stand

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.

My flat white in my Ecoffee Cup on a lovely patterned tile at Lever & Bloom.Lever & Bloom

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.

Details from the sign hanging on the door of Alex Does CoffeeAlex Does Coffee

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.

The reflection of the skylight in the ceiling above, captured in my coffee at the back of Coffee + Beer in Bristol.Coffee + Beer

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.

A lovely Verve espresso in a classic white cup, pulled at Infuse Coffee & Tea Bar in River North Point, Chicago.Infuse Coffee & Tea Bar, River North Point

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.

A lovely shot of the house-blend at Nem Espresso & Coffee in Tokyo, served in a classic white cup.Nem Coffee & Espresso

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.

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

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.

An information card for a micro-lot from the Cerro de Jesus farm in Nicaragua, supplied by Coffee Island in St Martin's Lane.Coffee Island, St Martin’s Lane

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).

The Carvetii Coffee Roasters' logo, with the slogan "Cumbria's Coffee Roasters".Carvetii Coffee Roasters

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.

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

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.

Little Bean Roastery has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Best Overseas Coffee Spot Awards.

The new Coffee Lab logo, taken from the counter in the Salisbury branch.Coffee Lab, Salisbury

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.


And the winner is Coffee + Beer
Runners-up: Little Victories and Go Get Em Tiger

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


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  1. Pingback: Go Get Em Tiger, Hollywood Boulevard | Brian's Coffee Spot

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