Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2014 underway, here are the winners of the second Annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. This time there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2013. 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 has visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page or +1ed me on Google+. While I do this for the love of it, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. And help spread the love for good coffee.
If you don’t like lists, you can see who won this year’s Awards in the gallery.
So, without further ado, let’s see who won.
Where It All Began (2012 Winner: Boston Tea Party (Park Street))
The Tinderbox in Islington is one of the formative places that confirmed for me that I have this innate love of cafés. Yes, I do like great coffee, but it goes much deeper than that. There is a real pleasure to be gained in simply sitting in a great café and losing an hour or two reflecting on life. The Tinderbox was one of those places, first in its original location, and now in the N1 centre in Islington.
It’s not the location, it’s the setting. Attendant, in a disused Victorian gents toilet on London’s Foley Street, was the clear winner this year.
The great thing about Attendant is that it avoided being a gimmick. It could have so easily rested on its laurels and settled for being the café in the toilet, but instead it’s nailed its colours firmly to the mast with some excellent Caravan coffee.
Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (New for 2013)
It took me long enough to find Café Mila, just down the river in Godalming, but it was worth the wait. Good coffee, excellent surroundings and a friendly, neighbourhood feel that just can’t be beaten. Every town should have a Café Mila.
Coffee Spot Most Resembling a Coffee Shop (2012 Winner: Coffee Bean Central)
The clear winner this year, Kahawa is bringing fine coffee to Coventry in a classic setting. It’s a really lovely place, with lots of light and space. Walking in, I immediately knew that I was going to like Kahawa an awful lot.
Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station (New for 2013)
In fairness, Pink Lane Coffee would grace any location. It’s a fantastic place, with a real emphasis on top-notch coffee. It’s also a lovely setting, the sort of place you could accidentally misplace an afternoon.
It just so happens that it’s also right across the street from Newcastle‘s Central Station, making it the perfect place to sneak out for some great coffee when changing trains.
Best Overseas Coffee Spot (New for 2013)
Montréal’s Pikolo Espresso Bar would grace any city, anywhere in the world. It’s where I conclusively fell in love with the Montréal coffee scene and confirmed to me that it’s one of the great coffee cities of the world. Pikolo itself is lovely: long and thin, with a great balcony at the far end, it also helps that it serves superb coffee with passion. Definitely a must-visit if you are ever in town.
Best Espresso (2012 Winner: Bar Italia)
Clear winner this year, Vagabond N7 served me a Has Bean Yirgacheffe that was out of this world. I can honestly say that I’ve never tasted anything like it! It helps that Vagabond N7 is a lovely place too, having got the “unfinished” look down to a fine art.
Best Filter Coffee (New for 2013)
The clear winner is Newcastle‘s Flat Caps Coffee who helped open my eyes to the wonder of filter coffee. This was one of the cleanest cups of coffee I’ve ever had, and is probably the first time I’ve ever described coffee as “clean”.
Best Takeaway Coffee (New for 2013)
The clear winner this year. Bean About Town serves up consistently excellent coffee in a market where others often stop at good (or fail to even get that far). The van at the Real Food Market is still somewhere I go to get good coffee in preference to anything indoors nearby. The only reason it didn’t win this year is because I wrote about it last year and the only reason it didn’t win last year was because I hadn’t thought of the Award!.
Best Coffee Bean Retailer (2012 Winner: Coffee Charisma)
Coffee Charisma (again!)
I know, I cheated. But in all honesty, it’s still the place where I buy the majority of my coffee beans, so it would have been very hard to give it to anywhere else. Maybe 2014 is the year I will spread my coffee-bean-buying wings.
Happiest Staff (2012 Winner: Café Boscanova)
My favourite Award and I am delighted to be able to give it to Peyman, Rana and the team at White Mulberries in St Katherine Dock. Just such a lovely, lovely place, full of wonderful people. The coffee’s pretty damn good too!
Best Saturday Supplement (New for 2013)
The clear winner this year; had there been an Award for “Best New Coffee-related Magazine” then Caffeine Magazine would have won that hands down too. The fact that I regularly write for it has nothing to do with it. Honest.
Everything about Caffeine Magazine spells quality, from the writing, the photography & art, the production and the printing. Even the adverts are excellent!
Smallest Coffee Spot (2012 Winner: Exploding Bakery)
I Am Coffee on St Mark’s Place, New York City, was another clear winner. On size grounds alone, it was in a clear lead, but Giovanni packs in so much coffee goodness into such a small space, I’m surprised it doesn’t explode, showering much of NYC with coffee. If you are ever in New York City and only have time to visit one coffee shop, then (aside from weeping with frustration) this is the one to go to.
Nicest Physical Space (New for 2013)
I said at the time I visited that this may be the finest physical location for the coffee shop, situated at the meeting of three aisles of Cardiff‘s Harris Arcade. I have a soft spot for the upstairs, although the downstairs has its charms and would grace any coffee shop in the land.
Best Cake (2012 Winner: Bea’s of Bloomsbury)
A wonderful place, great Coffee Spot in its own right, working bakery and excellent breakfast & lunch spot, Hart’s had to win something. However, as the suppliers of cakes and pastries to many of Bristol‘s finest Coffee Spots and as the makers of the finest cinnamon buns ever, it was only fitting that Hart’s Bakery, located under the approach ramp to Bristol’s Temple Meads station, walked away with this years’ Coffee Spot Award for Best Cake.
Best Breakfast (New for 2013)
A legend and old-favourite reborn, The Bristolian had its beginnings as a greasy spoon, but has now added to that with excellent coffee while keeping the breakfasts which made its reputation. Still a must-visit for me, despite stiff competition in the area.
Best Cheese Toastie (New for 2013)
9Bar Coffee claims to have the world’s best toastie and who am I to disagree? It’s certainly the best cheese toastie I had in 2013, which is good enough for me. It also serves some excellent coffee in wonderful surroundings with bags of atmosphere! 9Bar Coffee now has a brand new Kees van der Westen lever espresso machine. Shiny in the extreme!
Most Passionate About Coffee (2012 Winner: Brew Lab)
I was, quite literally, blown away by the passion on display at Workhouse Coffee in Reading, both from the wonderful staff and from owner and chief coffee-roaster, Greg. It might be the most complete Coffee Spot that I visited in 2014 and I can’t praise Workhouse highly enough.
Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2012 Winner: Bar des Arts)
The Southsea Coffee Co could have won any number of Awards this year, so I’m delighted to be able to present it with the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award for 2013.
It is an outstanding place: great coffee, lovely decor, fantastic atmosphere, but with that special something that lifts it above the rest.
Most Popular (2012 Winner: Café Boscanova)
With 999 views, 50% more than its closest rival, the Look Mum No Hands Pop-up on London’s South Bank was the clear winner this year. It has now closed down for the winter: we can only hope that it’s back again next year!
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