2013 Awards – Best Physical Space

An espresso, in a classic white cup on a white saucer on a tableAnother new Award for this year is the “Best Physical Space” Award. I’m not sure why I didn’t have this award last year since this is one of the most important things for me, how a Coffee Spot looks and feels. It’s as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel as it is about 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 another where I could have made three or four different shortlists, all with worthy winners. However, I have managed to whittle it down to just a single list for this year’s Award.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • TAP 114 Tottenham Court Road
  • Boston Tea Party, Worcester, the only Coffee Spot with its own plane!
  • Rows of lovely chairs outside Coffee Barker in Cardiff's Castle Arcade
  • Coffee & Co in Cheltenham: like having coffee in someone's sitting room
  • The lovely, snug bar at the South End Buttery in Boston
  • The Plan Cafe in the Harris Arcade, Cardiff
  • Notes Trafalgar Square, elegance personified
  • The Barista's, Chester, in perhaps the oldest building occupied by a Coffee Spot
TAP 114 Tottenham Court Road1 Boston Tea Party, Worcester, the only Coffee Spot with its own plane!2 Rows of lovely chairs outside Coffee Barker in Cardiff's Castle Arcade3 Coffee & Co in Cheltenham: like having coffee in someone's sitting room4 The lovely, snug bar at the South End Buttery in Boston5 The Plan Cafe in the Harris Arcade, Cardiff6 Notes Trafalgar Square, elegance personified7 The Barista's, Chester, in perhaps the oldest building occupied by a Coffee Spot8
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There are eight Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The famous TAP bicycle above the door at the No. 114 branch on Tottenham Court RoadTAP, 114 Tottenham Court Road

TAP has got the layout of its coffee shops down to a fine art. I could just have easily nominated No 193 Wardour Street, but decided to go with No 114 instead since it was the first one of the three that I visited.

The model aeroplane at the Worcester branch of the Boston Tea Party.Boston Tea Party, Worcester

The same could be said of the Boston Tea Party chain and again, I could have picked any of them. However, when it comes down to it, any Coffee Spot with its own aeroplane has to be included in the shortlist!

Rows of very comfortable chairs outside Coffee Barker in the Castle Arcade, Cardiff.Coffee Barker

The utterly lovely Coffee Barker in Cardiff‘s Castle Arcade is another example of a beautiful coffee shop, from the French pavement-café inspired outside seating through the eclectic interior décor all the way to the fantastic, person-swallowing sofas. Coffee Barker also features in 2014’s Coffee Spot Calendar.

Some of the lovely seating upstairs at Coffee & Co.Coffee & Co

Sitting in Coffee & Co in the Montpelier district of Cheltenham is rather like having coffee is someone’s (slightly posh) living room. It’s got two great spaces, downstairs with the counter and upstairs, which doubles as an art gallery. Coffee & Co also features in the Coffee Spot Calendar for 2014.

My cup of coffee surveys the bar at the back of the South End ButterySouth End Buttery

Boston‘s South End Buttery has been a breakfast stop of mine for some time now, but it’s only recently that I discovered the lovely snug bar right at the back, which is now my favourite spot when I go to visit. It helps that the coffee is excellent, including that rarest of things, a cafetiere option!

Coffee at the Plan: a plunged and poured cafetiere of Peter James' finest Columbian with an entirely superfluous jug of milk.The Plan

Another entry from Cardiff, this time from the rival Harris Arcade. The Plan might be the most ideal setting I’ve seen for a coffee shop. Spread over two levels, I prefer to sit upstairs, although the downstairs has its charms. It’s also another place that offers the option of having your coffee in a cafetiere.

Filter Coffee from Notes, served in a silver coffee pot, plus a muffin.Notes, Trafalgar Square

Pretty much the definition of elegance in a coffee shop, the Notes chain has raised the bar when it comes to sumptuous interiors and, as such, had to make the shortlist. The Trafalgar Square branch is nothing short of beautiful!

The logo of The Barista's, ChesterThe Barista’s, Chester

Set in the bottom of God’s Providence House, a 17th Century building on Chester’s historic Watergate Street, The Barista’s is a lovely, relaxing place, with bare stone and brick walls belying the age of building. It’s the sort of place where you can accidentally lose an afternoon! I’m pretty sure the Barista’s is also in the oldest building of any Coffee Spot I’ve visited in 2013.

The following Coffee Spots are also worth a special mention: Soho’s Foxcroft & Ginger, in running for Best Basement Award, had I thought to have one; London’s FreeState Coffee; Birmingham’s Yorks Bakery Cafe; Brighton‘s Taylor Street Baristas; Islington’s Vagabond N7; staying in Islington, Tinderbox, and finally, and still in Islington (what is it with Islington and nice places?) Coffee Works Project.

And the winner is The Plan!
Runners-up: Boston Tea Party, WorcesterCoffee & Co

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

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7 thoughts on “2013 Awards – Best Physical Space

      • Benugo and Peyton & Byrne have them all covered! Delauney Counter coffee’s not bad… they don’t do a ‘latte’, they have a ‘Milchkaffee’ etc. V. good selection of cakes. Quite smart but coffee’s reasonably priced. Benugo is same as anywhere, but the V&A’s main dining area is v. grand with giant glass chandeliers and Arts & Crafts walls and stained glass

  1. Notes is probably my most regular hangout, mostly due to its location and opening hours, but I do like it inside. Coffee is probably not my favourite but it’s very good and there is some really great tea on offer,

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