Next up today, the 2015 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Pot Kettle Black. 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 Award where I could have made two or three 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.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
The Salisbury Boston Tea Party is, I believe, the largest branch and occupies the oldest building, the Grade 1 listed Old George Inn, which dates back to the early 1300s. Sprawling over three floors of this magnificent, historic building, it boasts over 200 seats upstairs alone, plus an attractive outdoor seating area on the pedestrianised High Street. My favourite spot is the main upstairs room.
Occupying the ground floor of a sprawling five-storey building, the Brooklyn Roasting Company is an amazing spot. Some coffee shops go to great lengths to achieve that stripped-back, industrial look; the Brooklyn Roasting Company simply moved into a 19th century stables down by the East River and, voila, there you have it. Consisting of multiple spaces and with two coffee bars (the smaller one is my favourite) there’s something here for everyone.
La Colombe’s flagship new store in the Philadelphia neighbourhood of Fishtown is in an old warehouse. It’s a large, rambling, high-ceilinged space with multiple seating options and a rum distillery at the back. And why not? All the food is cooked in an open-plan kitchen behind the counter. The breakfast I had was outstanding, earning La Columbe a spot on the shortlist for the Best Breakfast Award.
This might be the most beautiful of all the branches of Small Batch in Brighton & Hove. Located in an old bank branch, it is an elegant, bright, high-ceilinged space, enhanced by an island counter that subtly dominates the room. There’s a range of seating, including at the counter itself, where you can watch the espresso machine in action or marvel at the brew bar on the opposite side. The lighting earned Small Batch a spot on the shortlist for Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Bigger than even the original Look Mum No Hands! on London’s Old Street, the Mare Street branch sadly had to close earlier this year when the landlord hiked the rent. Sad though, because it was an amazing space, and it will be missed.
Marmadukes is tucked away on a lovely, quiet Sheffield street that makes sitting out in the sun almost compulsory and earned it a spot on the Best Outdoor Seating Award shortlist. However, to do so would miss out on an even lovelier interior, spread across all three floors of a rambling, old house, each of the five distinct spaces offering something unique. Marmadukes is also on the Best Breakfast and Happiest Staff Awards shortlists.
Regular readers know my love of Coffee Spots in Victorian Arcades, so it’ll be no surprise that I fell in love with Yorks Espresso Bar the moment I saw it. Occupying a corner spot at the Colmore Row end of Birmingham‘s Great Western Arcade, it’s an amazing location, spread over a compact, elegant ground-floor and a stripped-back, cosy mezzanine. Yorks Espresso Bar was also shortlisted for Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
For seven years, Wild & Wood went about its business in a small shop on New Oxford Street. Then, earlier this year, the building was cleared for redevelopment and Wild & Wood was left homeless. Fortunately, Wild & Wood reappeared on London Wall, the owners pretty much transplanting Wild & Wood, keeping the same atmosphere and attitude that made the original so popular. Also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Glasgow‘s Avenue Coffee sits on the corner of Barrington Drive, a lovely, sunlit spot, decked out in wood, brick and bare stone and with tall windows on both sides. There’s also a mezzanine level which houses Avenue Coffee’s roaster, which earned it a spot on the Best Roaster/Retailer shortlist. Avenue Coffee was also shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
The first of two Manchester Coffee Spots on this year’s shortlist, Grindsmith’s new branch occupies a pair of huge brick archways, as deep as they are tall and only slightly wider. Part of the Great Northern Warehouse, a fantastic example of brick-built Victorian architecture, it shares the space with the building’s main tenants, Central Working and Rise. Grindsmith was also shortlisted for Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
The second Manchester Coffee Spots on the shortlist, Ancoats has recently taken over a ground floor spot in Royal Mills, a office/residential development in an old mill complex. Also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Any of the new branches of Notes could have made this shortlist, but the Crossrail Place branch is my favourite. There’s something about the layout, a bit like a croissant, the appeals to me. Notes was also shortlisted for Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
A special mention also needs to go to the following, all of whom could have made the shortlist:
Forum Coffee House
Society Café Kingsmead Square
Society Café, The Corridor
Pavement Coffeehouse, Gainsborough
Notes, King’s Cross
Quarter Horse Coffee, Birmingham
200 Degrees Coffee Shop
Tamper Coffee, Sellers Wheel
Amid Giants & Idols
Artisan Roast, Stockbridge
Farm Girl Café
Boston Tea Party, Ringwood
Intelligentsia, High Line Hotel
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.
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