I present the last 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 White Mulberries and once again this year’s shortlist is particular strong. I was blessed as I visited numerous places with some very happy staff this year.
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.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 11 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Workhouse Coffee has many things going for it, not least the wonderful coffee and fantastic setting. However, what makes it for are the amazing staff. Workhouse got a mention is last year’s award and moves up to the shortlist this year. Also nominated for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
There’s a real sense of pride to the team at Zappi’s. A tight-knit unit squeezed into a very small space behind the counter, it’s probably just as well that they all get on so well with each other! They are also very proud of their banana bread!
Everyman Espresso’s tag line is “damn fine coffee”, but it could, in the words of Amanda, my barista, be “damn fine everything”. For me, that says everything I need to know about the happiness of the staff at Everyman. Everyman was also shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.
Happiness is not just about smiles and a friendly greeting to the customers, although that also helps. For me, happiness also shines through in staff who genuinely enjoy their work and are passionate about it, which is definitely the case at Dublin’s 3FE. 3FE also made the shortlists for the Most Passionate About Coffee and the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Awards.
In an industry full of engaging, friendly baristas, Drew, the owner/chief barista at Brew Oxford, really stood out as one of the happiest and friendliest I have come across. Best of all, this friendliness is infectious. Brew is also in the running for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
I found Milk Bar to be an oasis of calm and space in the otherwise impossibly busy and bustling (ie perfectly normal) thing that is Soho on a Friday night in summer. This is, to a large extent, due to the friendly welcome from assistant manager, Kathryn, and Liam, the barista, which seemed equally genuine for both regulars and first-time visitors such as myself.
I have a soft spot for Beany Green’s Paddington branch, largely because it is now my regular, being two minutes walk from my office. The staff there, however, have always been uber-friendly and have struck me as a very happy, laid-back crew. The fact that they gave me a Christmas present of coffee beans, granola and spiced nuts has absolutely nothing to do with them making the shortlist for this award! Beany Green has also been nominated for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award and is in the running for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
I think it’s perhaps the glorious, soaring interior of The Wren that makes the staff there so happy. Let’s face it, if I had to go to work there every day, I’d be pretty happy to, which is probably why it was nominated for the Best Physical Space Award (& Best Outdoor Seating). And, of course, there’s the potentially award-winning cake that got The Wren on the Best Cake Award shortlist. That would make anyone happy!
There are two main reasons for visiting Spring Espresso: the excellent coffee from London’s Square Mile and the warm welcome you get from Tracey and Steve, which is what got them the nomination for the Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff Award. The food’s not bad either (okay, so that’s three). And the cakes are excellent (four). And I’ve been told the tea’s very good too (five). I think I’ll stop now…
One of the features of all the La Colombe branches is that there is no menu, which forces you to engage with the staff. This is generally a good thing and when you have such excellent baristas as Rachel and Elizabeth, who were on duty when I visited Lafayette Street, this is a very good thing indeed! That said, the staff at La Colombe, Dilworth Plaza in Philadelphia, could have equally well been nominated for this award.
Villiers is very much a family affair, owned by same family which owns Gordon’s Wine Bar a few doors down. I met with Sophie Gordon and her sister, Grace, on my first visit, while another sister, Rose, and their father, Tom, are also involved (Tom made all the furniture, including the counter). You would therefore expect them to be very invested in the business, but as far as I could tell, all the other staff were just as committed too!
This is another award I could have produced several shortlists for, so all of the following deserve a mention!
Colonna & Small’s
Bluebird Coffee Shop
Riverhill Coffee Bar
Bean & Bud
The Franklin Fountain
Drink, Shop & Dash
Sugar Blue Café
The Fleet Street Press
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2014.
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