I present the final 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 Beany Green, Paddington 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 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
The staff at York‘s Coffee Culture were a particularly happy and obliging bunch, even making a cooked breakfast for a couple who had walked in six minutes before closing time, something that in many coffee shops would be met with a stony glare and a “kitchen’s closed” response. Coffee Culture has some particularly narrow and steep staircases and even going up and down them all day didn’t dim the enthusiasm.
From York to New York. Bluestone Lane is an Aussie-owned and Aussie-influenced coffee shop chain and this shone through in the Manhattan Branch. I was well looked after by my two baristas, Angela, an Aussie from Perth, and Sophia, an American. Bluestone Lane has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
The Electric Coffee Company, tucked away above Ealing Broadway Station, has always struck me as a cheerful and friendly place, even when it’s ridiculously busy, with the queues heading out of the door. The Electric Coffee Company has been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station, the Best Breakfast and the Coffee Spot Special Awards.
Somewhere, somehow, Yorkshire folk may have gained a reputation for being grumpy and, dare I say it, unwelcoming. Which is, of course, complete nonsense. Sheffield‘s Upshot Espresso is one of the most welcoming and friendly places I’ve been this year. Upshot Espresso has been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot, Best Espresso and Best Breakfast Awards.
Led by the infectiously enthusiastic Jeff Liberman, Chicago’s Asado Coffee only employs baristas who have been customers, a genius recruitment policy which ensures the company ethos is carried on. Asado has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
You can always tell a good, well-run coffee shop when the staff take a sense of ownership, even when the owners aren’t there. So it was at Stoked Roaster + Coffee House in Hood River, where I was well-looked after by Devon, my barista, and her colleagues, Jamie and Kalista. Nothing was too much trouble and a warm welcome was extended to regulars and visitors alike.
Beany Green has always had a reputation for friendliness: popping in is like meeting up with old friends. Any of the three branches I covered this year could have made it, but I’ve gone for the Regent’s Place branch, where the lovely Suzy is the manager and one of my favourite baristas, Chrissie, is behind the espresso machine. Beany Green has been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Takeaway Coffee Awards.
Given the size of the Tandem Coffee Roastery in Portland (Maine), it’s hard not to interact with the barista (the cheerful Avery for my visit), all the more reason to sit at the counter with the rest of the customers (such as the lovely Jason, upon whose afternoon coffee I intruded) and natter the day away. Tandem has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
Marmadukes’ logo is a cheerful-looking bear on a bicycle and its enthusiasm seems infectious. Certainly every time I’ve been to Marmadukes in Sheffield, I’ve been well looked after, the staff generating a very happy atmosphere. Marmadukes has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating, Best Physical Space and Best Breakfast Awards and could have made quite a few more.
Bournemouth‘s Espresso Kitchen brings a slice of Italian espresso-bar culture to the south coast. Owner and head-barista Fran has recreated the sort of friendly, chatty place where everyone knows (almost) everyone else. Espresso Kitchen has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Manchester‘s Pavé Coffee, which started life as Caffeine & Co, has always been run by Dan, one of the nicest, cheeriest baristas in an industry full of nice, cheery baristas. Pavé Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Happy staff make for a happy coffee shop and certainly this is the case for Washington DC‘s Peregrine Espresso, where Matthew and his colleagues made me feel right at home, happily talking me though the various options on offer. Peregrine Espresso has also achieved the unique honour of being shortlisted for both the Best Espresso and Best Filter Coffee Awards.
A special mention also needs to go to the following, all of whom could have made the shortlist:
Doctor Espresso – Mama V’s
Beany Green, Liverpool Street
Slate Coffee Roasters
Milstead & Co.
Ancoats Coffee Co, Royal Mills
Farm Girl Café
Lemana Coffee & Kitchen
The Pudding Pantry
Notes, Canary Wharf
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2015.
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