Liar Liar

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Liar, Liar in Oswestry.Liar Liar, in the small town of Oswestry on the England-Wales border, has been on my list for some time now. I first visited right at the end of 2017, on my way back to Guildford from my Dad’s, but I couldn’t stay very long. I vowed that I would return the following year, but what will all the travelling I have been doing, 2018 came and almost went before I was able to call in again, exactly one year to the day later, while (you guessed it) on my way back to Guildford from my Dad’s.

Liar Liar is a real gem, located in the (semi-pedestrianised) heart of the town, spread over three floors (only the first two are open to customers) of a lovely old shop right on the corner, giving it windows on two sides, plus plenty of outside seating. A multi-roaster, Liar Liar uses some of the best roasters in the country, including the nearby Hundred House Coffee & Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Co., changing up the options (always single-origins) on espresso and filter (V60, Aeropress, batch-brew) roughly every monthly. There are interesting breakfast, lunch and panini menus from in-house caterers, Hayes Kitchen, plus plenty of cake.

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Coffee Spot Awards 2018: 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 2019 underway, here are the winners of the seventh annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2018. 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 and looked at 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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2018 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

The new Aergrind from Knock, with its top off and loaded with beans.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2018, 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 2018.

Last year this was won by Made by Knock: Aergrind with 2,124 views. This year just one Coffee Spot broke the 1,000 views mark. Of the 15 most viewed, 12 are Coffee Spots (11 from the UK), while the remaining three are Saturday Supplements.

This is, in some ways, my favourite Award since I don’t have to make any decisions. After 19 shortlists, it’s quite a relief not to have to decide who’s in and who’s out, although I did decide to exclude the post about my book, The Philosophy of Coffee, which otherwise would have come third…

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2018 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

A cortado, made with Square Mile's Sweet Shop Blend at Forté Espresso Bar in Manchester.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2018, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Forte Espresso Bar. 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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2018 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

The reflection of the skylight in the ceiling above, captured in my coffee at the back of Coffee + Beer in Bristol.Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2018, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2017 by Coffee + Beer. 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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2018 Awards – Best Breakfast

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Homeground Coffee + Kitchen, made with the seasonal espresso blend from Carvetii.We enter the final day of the 2018 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2017 went to Homeground 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!

That said, I’ve been doing so much travelling this last year that I’m now able to generate a healthy shortlist this year, although it surprises me how many places on this list are from the UK given how little time I’ve spent in the country this year! This has probably been 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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2018 Awards – Happiest Staff

The front door of Westmoreland Coffee on the corner of Westmoreland Road in Harrogate.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 Westmoreland Speciality Coffee. 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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2018 Awards – Best Physical Space

The main entrance to Society Cafe in Bristol, a pair of glass double-doors opening out onto Farr's Lane, with the counter directly ahead.Next up today, the 2018 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Society Café, Bristol. 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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2018 Awards – Best Overseas Coffee Spot

The label on Panther Coffee's West Coast Espresso Blend.Next up in the 2018 Coffee Spot Awards with the shortlist for the “Best Overseas Coffee Spot”, which was won in 2017 by Panther Coffee, Wynwood. The Award celebrates all those wonderful Coffee Spots that I’ve visited outside of the UK, although this year will be its last.

When I set up the Award in 2013, I made two or three trips a year outside of the UK. In 2018, I spent less than half my time in the UK, which was reflected in my posts this year, with fewer than half of the Coffee Spots coming from this country.

As a result, many of this year’s shortlists are full of non-UK entries, with the Best Roaster/Retailer Award (for example) having just two UK Coffee Spots in the shortlist. I therefore think that it’s time to retire this Award: Overseas Coffee Spots don’t need a special award category of their own any more.

If you want to read more of my travel exploits, check out Brian’s Travel Spot.

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2018 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

The Carvetii Coffee Roasters' logo, with the slogan "Cumbria's Coffee Roasters".Next up is the 2018 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Carvetii Coffee Roasters. 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 (actually, with the amount of travelling I now do, I’m not so sure this is true…), so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention. The problem, as with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, by-and-large, 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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