Velo Coffee Roasters

The 15 kg Joper roaster from Velo Coffee Roasters, where the roastery is inside the coffee shop on Main Street in Chattanooga.The final Coffee Spot from last October’s mid-American road trip is, appropriately enough, from our last stop, Chattanooga, before we arrived home that evening in Atlanta. Velo Coffee Roasters was on my original list of places to visit and I’d planned to call in when we stopped in Chattanooga on the drive out. However, we arrived too late, making the chance discovery of Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery instead. On our return, I was determined not to make the same mistake, reaching Chattanooga with time in hand.

Velo Coffee Roasters is one of Chattanooga’s speciality coffee pioneers, having opened in 2009 before moving to its current location, just down the street from Neidlov’s, in 2015. Both coffee shop and roastery, Velo has a large, sheltered outdoor seating area and a quirky, multi-faceted interior, with the bonus of a barbershop upstairs at the back. Returning to coffee, the Boneshaker blend is offered as default for milk-based drinks, along with a single-origin option, while there are two single-origins on pour-over through the AeroPress, Chemex or Kalita Wave filter, one of which is also available on batch brew. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are freshly-baked cakes and pastries from Chattanooga bakery, Bread & Butter.

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Sump Coffee, Saint Louis

The amazing window at the front of Sump Coffee in Saint Louis with the words "SUMP COFFEE" over a drawing of a bearded white skull.Continuing the return leg of my mid-America road trip from October last year brings us to Saint Louis, which marks the mid-point of the journey. We actually called in at Blueprint Coffee on the way back, but since I’ve already written about that, today’s the turn of Sump Coffee, where we stopped on the way out.  This is the original Sump Coffee, which also has a second location in Nashville. Occupying a beautiful old building on the corner of Winnebago Street and Jefferson Avenue, there’s a small outdoor terrace at the front, while inside Sump Coffee occupies three long, thin rooms, the last of which houses the 10 kg Diedrich roaster, which produces all the coffee, both for here and for Nashville.

Talking of which, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to coffee. Like Sump’s Nashville location, there are three single-origins on espresso, with six more on pour-over, plus three cold brew options. Naturally, all the beans are for sale in retail bags, along with a selection of coffee-making equipment and merchandising. Meanwhile, if you don’t fancy coffee, there’s a selection of teas, while if you’re hungry, Sump has a range of cakes and pastries too.

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Coffea Roasterie and Espresso Bar, West Side

My espresso, served in a glass and presented on a wooden tray with a glass of waterThe Coffee Spot gets another year underway by returning to my mid-America road trip from October last year and the first stop on our return leg, Coffea Roasterie and Espresso Bar in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Coffea has three locations, all in Sioux Falls, but this is the flagship, combining coffee shop and roastery in a lovey, multi-faceted space on the city’s west side. There are multiple choices on espresso, batch brew and pour-over, while if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house.

Sadly this was very much a flying visit since we had started late that day, had a long way to go and wanted to see the eponymous Sioux Falls (which are well worth the effort, and, if you have time for coffee, Coffea’s downtown espresso bar isn’t that far away). As a result, I wasn’t able to do a full write-up, lacking both the photographs and the extensive notes that I normally take, so instead you’ll have to make do with the year’s first Saturday Snapshot.

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Coffee Spot Awards 2022: 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 2023 underway, here are the winners of the 11th annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2022. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced on a rolling basis starting on Boxing Day 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.

And finally, please accept my apologies for the delays with this year’s Awards. There’s been a lot going on in my life, including moving house two days before Christmas, which has really slowed me down this year. Anyway, without further ado, let’s find out who won!

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2022 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

A lovely flat white, made with a naturally-processed Brazilian single-origin and served in my HuskeeCup at Lily London in Guildford.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2022, 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 2022.

Last year this was won last year by Lily London, Guildford. This year’s top 10 consists of seven Coffee Spots, including three from my trip to California over the summer, and three Saturday Supplements.

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2022 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

A classic espresso in a handmade cup from Surrey Ceramics, served at The Hideaway in Guildford.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2022, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by The Hideaway. 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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2022 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

A flat white, with some lovely latte art, served in a classic white cup at Sam's Coffee in Llangollen.Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2022, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2021 by Sam’s Coffee. 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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2022 Awards – Best Breakfast

My awesome veggie breakfast which I had at Little Yellow Pig in Nantwich. Arranged around a pot of baked beans in the centre are avocado, halloumu, a pair of fried eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and two slices of toast!We enter the final day of the 2022 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2021 went to Little Yellow Pig, Nantwich. Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart. It used to be that I rarely got up and out of the house early enough to get to places before they stop serving breakfast.

However, I’ve been doing so much travelling over the last two years that I’m now able 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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2022 Awards – Happiest Staff

A single-origin Guatemalan espresso extracting from a Fracino lever espresso machine and into my Kaffeeform cup at Coffee Notes in Hammersmith.The final shortlist of the day is for another of my favourite Coffee Spot Awards, that of “Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff”, won last year by Coffee Notes. 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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2022 Awards – Best Physical Space

A classic decaf flat white served in a classic white cup at Medicine New Street in BirminghamNext up today, the 2022 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Medicine New Street. 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 filled the shortlist many times over, 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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