The last of today’s 2016 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists is the “Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot”. In 2015 this went to G!RO Cycles and it celebrates those Coffee Spots which are firmly rooted in, and which serve, their local communities. Unsurprisingly, the shortlist contains some of my favourite Coffee Spots of the year.
This Award has quite a wide geographical spread, with Coffee Spots from across the US, including Brooklyn, New York, Providence, Portland, and Washington DC and from across the UK, including Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, London and Shrewsbury.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Shrewsbury’s Ginger & Co. is right in the heart of the city. There’s plenty of space in the front or your can make the most of the spacious back room. Ginger & Co. is also shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Lanark Coffee is on London’s Hackney Road. Despite, or perhaps because of, its tiny size (you might be able to get five people in before it’s full), it has a real neighbourhood feel, with people coming as much to chat with Greg & Dom as they do to drink the excellent coffee. There’s no compromise on the coffee, with a rotating cast of roasters available through espresso or pour-over. Lanark Coffee is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Providence’s Fox Point is blessed to have the wonderful The Shop, with its wonderfully cosy interior that invites you in and then insists you stay all day. Or maybe that was just me… The Shop is also shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.
Williamsburg in Brooklyn is another blessed with an excellent coffee shop with a lovely interior. Just off the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, Northerly Coffee is a real neighbourhood gem, particularly during the morning rush.
No 12 Easton provides a little bit of everything to the area around Bristol’s Stapleton Road station. Eschewing the “do a few things and do them well” philosophy, it’s a coffee shop, café, deli, grocer, off-licence and, perhaps most importantly of all, a community hang-out space.
No 12 is also shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.
Iris & June brings speciality coffee and an excellent food menu to the area around Victoria station, an area of London that is in desperate need of decent coffee, particularly in a sit-down environment. Despite the focus on food, the coffee isn’t neglected either, with various options available as either espresso or pour-over. Iris & June is also shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Cake Awards.
Out in the eastern suburbs of Portland, Five Points Coffee Roasters on Division is the classic example of all that a neighbourhood coffee shop could and should be. Five Points is also shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
Espresso by K2 occupies the ground floor of an office building tucked away down an alley off Parsons Green in London. Other than the A-board, which helpfully points the way. you wouldn’t know it was there. On the other hand, perhaps that’s just how the locals like it. Certainly everyone seemed to be on first-name terms with the owner Ricky, when I was there. Espresso by K2 is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Compass Coffee is a relatively new addition to the speciality coffee scene in Washington DC. The coffee shop, which roasts all its own coffee in the back of the shop, was the brain child of two ex-infantry officers. It provides a neighbourhood hangout space to an area that didn’t really have a neighbourhood just a few years ago, proving that coffee shops can help create as well as serve their local neighbourhoods.
In Moseley, just south of Birmingham city centre, Cafephilia is another example of what a neighbourhood coffee shop could and should be. Providing a little bit of something for everyone, there’s excellent coffee, tasty cakes and a great range of toasted sandwiches. While I was there it was being used for everything from business meetings to catch-ups over afternoon tea.
Blue State Coffee on Thayer Street is Providence’s second entry on this shortlist, providing a more student-orientated experience around Brown University. Blue State is also shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
A newcomer this year, Frequency has brought much-needed speciality coffee to the streets to the south and east of Kings Cross station. However, it’s much more than that, rapidly becoming a firm favourite amongst the locals who have also become regulars with increasing frequency. Frequency is also shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
The tiny Café Grumpy branch on the Lower East Side is the sort of place that even the staff come and hang out in on their days off. It’s also my new go-to place when I’m staying in New York City. Despite being the only person there who didn’t seem to know everyone else, I was made to feel very welcome. Café Grumpy is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Cambridge’s Urban Larder is out to the east of the city, past the railway station. In a small parade of shops, it’s exactly the sort of coffee shop that every neighbourhood should have, feeling much like a smaller version of Bristol’s No 12 Easton, with stocks of groceries to go with the excellent coffee (espresso and filter) and the house speciality, the cheese toasty.
Gimme! Coffee is this shortlist’s second entry from Williamsburg in Brooklyn. With regular cuppings, it’s more than just a coffee shop, although if all you want is a cup of coffee and somewhere to relax, it fits that bill as well.
A special mention also needs to go to the following:
Silhouette, a real neighbourhood gem in Hackney, now sadly closed
Meadow Road Coffee, bringing speciality coffee to the west end of Glasgow
The Little Man Coffee Company, a community hub in the centre of Cardiff
Under Pressure Espresso, a lovely spot in Sutton Coldfield
Junction Coffee, another much-missed neighbourhood gem, this time from Liverpool
C.U.P., creating a real atmosphere in Reading
The LP Cafe, another spot where the staff (and owners) hangout on their days off
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2016.
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