Coffee Spot Awards 2016: Winners

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2017 underway, here are the winners of the fifth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2016. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and now we have the winners!

Before we go on, I know I’ve said this before, but a big thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page, +1ed me on Google+ (not many of you left in that category!) and liked my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.

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2016 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

Two sets of wooden cylinders for Knock's feldgrind hand-grinders.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2016, the only one that you, my readers, decide. It’s the “Most Popular Coffee Spot” Award, which is based on the total number of views received by each Coffee Spot in 2016.

This was won last year by Made by Knock: Hausgrind and Feldgrind with just over 1,000 views. This year we have six Coffee Spots which have broken the 1,000 views mark, which I’m quite excited about, although only one of them was published this year! In fact, last year’s winner, Made by Knock, would have won this year, with over 1,850 views, only I’m sticking with the rule I introduced last year and only allowing Coffee Spots published this year into the shortlist.

On that basis, of the 12 most viewed Coffee Spots, two from Glasgow, two are Saturday Supplements and there’s one each from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Guildford, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Shrewsbury which is the widest geographical spread I’ve ever had for this Award.

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2016 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

A specially-commissioned piece of art for Greenhood Coffee House by the very talented Tim Shaw. A hooded archer kneeling on top of a hot water tap shoots arrows through suspended apples and into a target standing on an EK-43 grinder.Welcome to this year’s penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, won last year by Greenhood Coffee House. This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

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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.

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2016 Awards – Best Breakfast

A Has Bean coffee sack hanging from the counter at Lemana Coffee & Kitchen.We enter the final day of the 2016 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2015 went to Lemana Coffee & Kitchen. Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart. The only slight snag is that I rarely get up and out of the house early enough to get to places before they stop serving breakfast, so they don’t feature on the Coffee Spot as often as I would like!

That said, I still managed to get up early enough to generate a healthy shortlist this year, helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts! In fact, given how often I have things from the breakfast menu for lunch, I wonder if I should rename this award “”Best Brunch””…

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2016 Awards – Happiest Staff

A pair of Beany Green deckchairs, blue on the left, pink on the right. Each shows a half-peeled banana with the word "YOUR" above the image, and "NEEDS YOU" underneath.I present the final shortlist of the day, which is for another of my favourite Coffee Spot Awards, that of “Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff”. Last year it was won by Beany Green, Regent’s Place. In my opinion, staff are probably the most over-looked part of any Coffee Spot. Good staff can make a place and bad staff, no matter how great the coffee and wonderful the location, can kill a place.

Everywhere that features in the Coffee Spot has great staff, but these were exceptional, with some infectiously happy staff. However, this award isn’t just for happy staff; it’s for any staff who go that extra mile to make their coffee shop a special place.

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2016 Awards – Best Physical Space

A pencil drawing of a large bear with scarf streaming behind it, as it peddles an under-sized bicycle.Next up today, the 2016 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Marmadukes Café Deli. One of the most important things for me is how a Coffee Spot looks and feels. This, to me, is just as important as the coffee.

This award celebrates those Coffee Spots in which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in. It’s not just about physical beauty and elegance. Instead, it’s as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel. It’s another where I could have made two or three different shortlists, all with worthy winners. However, I have managed to whittle it down to just a single list for this year’s Award.

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2016 Awards – Best Overseas Coffee Spot

The sign from the window of Slate Coffee Roasters in Seattle: the words 'SLATE COFFEE ROASTERS', one word per lineNext up in the 2016 Coffee Spot Awards with the shortlist for the “Best Overseas Coffee Spot”. This was won in 2015 by Coffee Tasting Flight at Slate and celebrates all those wonderful Coffee Spots that I’ve visited outside of the UK. I’d love to travel more, since I keep hearing about great coffee all over the world.

This year has been excellent for overseas Coffee Spots. I’ve had three trips to the USA, as well as heading for the first time (with my Coffee Spot hat on) to Portugal, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as returning to Dublin. If you want to read more of my travel exploits, check out Brian’s Travel Spot.

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2016 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

The Ancoats Coffee Co logo, the "o" in Ancoats being replaced with a stylised green coffee bean.First up today, the 2016 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills. Initially, this award was only open to retailers, but in 2014, I expanded it to include roasters, who now dominate the award. Contenders have either appeared in the Meet the Roaster series or they are cafe/roasters who I have visited during the year.

Although the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink the majority of my coffee at home, so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention. The problem, with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist and this Award is no exception. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, with two or three exceptions, to stick to either roasters I’ve written about as roasters or coffee shops where the beans are roasted on site.

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2016 Awards – Best Cake

The words Mr Wolfe Cafe in white on black taken from the side of the building.Welcome to the final 2016 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2015 by Mr Wolfe. Despite what it says on the tag line, the Coffee Spot’s not all about the coffee. After all, what would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this Award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.

This is another of my favourite Awards and while I didn’t visit that many dedicate cake spots, I was nonetheless treated to some absolutely fantastic cake along the way, proving that, like good coffee, the more you look, the more good cake you find.

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