2013 Awards – Best Overseas Coffee Spot

An espresso, in a classic white cup on a white saucer on a tableThe next shortlist for the 2013 Coffee Spot Awards is the “Best Overseas Coffee Spot” Award. The Coffee Spot spread its wings in 2013 and ventured outside of mainland Britain for the first time. There were trips to North America (Boston, New York City and Montréal) and Paris and great Coffee Spots were found along the way.

Now, I should say that “Best Overseas Coffee Spot” is perhaps a slight misnomer since I have deliberately only included Coffee Spots which weren’t included in shortlists elsewhere. This is perhaps a little arbitrary, but it allows me to spread the love more widely, which, after all, is the whole point of these Awards (and of the Coffee Spot itself).

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Pikolo Espresso Bar in Downtown Montréal
  • Black Market, sadly now closed but reincarnated as Fragments
  • Resonance: jazz bar, cafe and vegan restaurant
  • Berkeley Perk Cafe, lovely place next to my favourite hotel in Boston
  • Gasoline Alley in central New York City.
  • Ninth Street Espresso: two for the price of one!
  • Coutume: cafe and roaster on Paris' left bank
Pikolo Espresso Bar in Downtown Montréal1 Black Market, sadly now closed but reincarnated as Fragments2 Resonance: jazz bar, cafe and vegan restaurant3 Berkeley Perk Cafe, lovely place next to my favourite hotel in Boston4 Gasoline Alley in central New York City.5 Ninth Street Espresso: two for the price of one!6 Coutume: cafe and roaster on Paris' left bank7
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There are seven Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The Pikolo Espresso Bar, with it's logo of a tree in the window on Park Avenue, MontrealPikolo Espresso Bar

Pikolo Espresso Bar is probably where I fell in love with Montréal’s amazing coffee scene. I really can’t praise Pikolo highly enough and it could easily have featured in a host of other awards. It’s a lovely physical space: long and thin with high ceilings and a mezzanine level right at the back. Naturally the coffee is top-notch too.


Black Market, proudly serving coffee from Parisian roasters, Coutume.Black Market, Paris

Sadly Black Market is no more, but the good news is that its back in a new incarnation (Fragments) and in a new location, although I’ve yet to visit. I loved the original Black Market which effortlessly married the free of a backstreet Parisian bar with third wave coffee!

A fine vegan cortado from Résonance, the milk being a blend of almond and coconutRésonance!

Résonance! in Montréal is a combination of jazz bar, coffee shop and vegan restaurant, although compromises are made when it comes to the coffee: you can have real milk if you want to. However, you really should try the house “milk”, a mixture of almond and coconut milk which is out of the world and far better than soya milk! Down in a basement, Résonance! is the sort of place you could easily spend all day.

The Berkeley Perk Cafe logo on a flag hanging outside the shop

Berkeley Perk Café

This year was the first time I visited the Berkeley Perk, despite staying next to it for the two previous years at my favourite hotel in Boston. The loss is all mine.

The Berkeley Perk is a lovely spot, which could easily have made the shortlist for “Best Physical Space”. It’s got everything: big, bright windows, luxurious arm chairs and, best of all, some lovely wooden booths.

The Gasoline Alley Logo, crossed-espresso basketsGasoline Alley Coffee

Take the doors off either end and Gasoline Alley could easily be an alley, connecting Lafayette and Mulberry Streets in mid-town New York. It’s a lively place, serving takeaway and sit-in coffee with an emphasis on NYC’s bicycling community. I don’t know what it is with cycling and espresso, but there you go. The coffee’s excellent, making it a great place to stop for a quick refuel.

The window of Ninth Street Espresso, disconcertingly on 10th Street and Tompkins Square

Ninth Street Espresso (9th & 10th St)

Two for the price of one, this covers both the original Ninth Street Espresso (on 9th Street in New York‘s Alphabet City) and the more recent branch nearby on Tompkins Square. I got on much better with the 9th St branch, but don’t let that stop you trying the other one as well.

A very fine espresso in a hard to photograph black cup from Coutume, complete with carafe of water.Coutume

One of the forerunners of third wave coffee in Paris, Coutume is still going strong on Paris’ left bank, serving excellent coffee with typical French style. Both a cafe and a roaster (the coffee is roasted at the back of the store), Coutume is a lovely spot to sit and sip your coffee in what feels like an old butcher’s shop. It’s also one of the few places in Paris I saw that catered specifically to the takeaway trade from a little counter at the front.

Bearing in mind that I’ve excluded Coffee Spots nominated elsewhere, a special mention must go Boston’s Wired Puppy, New York City’s I Am Coffee, Montréal’s Le Couteau – The Knife and Paris’ Café de Flore.

And the winner is Pikolo Espresso Bar!
Runners-up: Black MarketRésonance!

You can find all 20 of the 2013 Coffee Spot Awards here.

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