Next up today, the 2016 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Marmadukes Café Deli. 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 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 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Brooklyn Roasting Company, Flushing Avenue
The Flushing Avenue branch of the Brooklyn Roasting Company occupies a stunning spot on a corner. There’s glass on two sides, including the long side which stretches out along Flushing Avenue. As a result, it’s flooded with light, which only adds to its beauty. The Brooklyn Roasting Company is also shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.
Another sun-filled spot is Providence’s 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 Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
Either of the branches of Sweetleaf that I wrote about this year could have made it onto this list, but the Jackson Avenue branch in Queens just edged it, the windows catching the morning sun, while the cosy room at the back is the ideal place to hide out on a gloomy day.
The Bird’s Nest is a lovely, eclectic spot tucked away at the back of the top floor of Shrewsbury’s 1960s Market Hall. A wonderful mix of tables, chairs and sofas, it feels like you’ve just stumbled into an old furniture store. Or someone’s very large living room. The Bird’s Nest is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
Wyndham Tea is the third of Cardiff’s well-respected Waterloo Tea chain, located in the beautiful setting of the city’s Wyndham Arcade. It has an understated elegance, which, coupled with table service, invites you to stay all day. Wyndham Tea is also shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.
Bristol‘s The Crazy Fox sits at one end of the lovely St James Arcade, another example of a Victorian Arcade. Spread over two floors, the downstairs can be bustling and busy while the large upstairs room tends to be a relaxed haven during the day. Finally, you can always sit outside on Broadmead. The Crazy Fox is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
Chester’s Jaunty Goat has a basement-like interior (basement-like enough to earn a place on the Best Basement Award shortlist). Located on the lower level of Chester’s famous Rows, you descend a couple of steps to a lovely, cosy interior, which, right at the back, features exposed stone work that could easily be medieval. Alternatively, sit at one of the secluded window-bars and watch the world go by.
Liverpool’s Filter + Fox, on Duke Street, is an elegant spot with a wonderfully high ceiling and windows on two sides, making it feel bright and spacious despite its relatively small size. Filter + Fox is also shortlisted for the Best Lighting and Best Cake Awards.
Dublin’s Coffee Angel chain opened its new HQ building in the centre of the city this summer. Spread over three floors in a narrow building, downstairs is dedicated to a lovely (standing room only) coffee bar (front) and retail room (back). Upstairs are even more sumptuously-appointed meeting and training rooms. Coffee Angel HQ is also shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
London’s Modern Society is on Redchurch Street, in the heart of Shoreditch. It’s both a life-style store and a cutting edge coffee bar, where elegance is a top priority. This extends to the coffee side of things, where a gleaming Modbar takes its place on the counter. Meanwhile its amazing chandeliers won it a place on the shortlist for the Best Lighting Award.
Reading’s Artigiano Espresso continues the mini-chain’s trend of providing physically amazing spaces. This one has two floors, all exposed brick, wood and comfy chairs, particularly upstairs where you could easily lose yourself for a day when you only popped in for a flat white. Artigiano Espresso is also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Another mini-chain with a reputation for amazing physical spaces, 200 Degrees Birmingham branch is its first venture outside its hometown of Nottingham. This is another sumptuously-appointed space, with all the usual features, including exposed brick, comfy armchairs and wonderful fireplaces. Like the original in Nottingham, it goes a long way back. 200 Degrees is also shortlisted for the Best Basement Award.
Stumptown has a habit of occupying physically gorgeous spaces. It also has a partnership with Ace Hotels which sees its coffee bars gracing the hotel’s lobbies in various cities around America. This branch, in the lobby of the New York City Ace Hotel operates as an independent coffee bar, which is sumptuously decorated in its own right. You can also use the main lobby itself.
Set in what was an old bus depot garage, this is one of three branches of La Colombe in Washington DC. Long and thin, it has an amazingly high ceiling and windows down the long side, all of which give it a sense of space. When the sun is out, this only serves to highlight the patches of exposed brick and bare plaster. La Colombe is also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Manchester‘s ManCoCo is located underneath the railway arches near Deansgate Station. A roastery on one side, coffee bar on the other, it is beautifully fitted out in wood, lifting what could be an austere interior to new highs. ManCoCo is also shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
A special mention also needs to go to the following:
Tilt, another Birmingham spot that could easily have been on the shortlist
Sweetleaf Williamsburg, which could have made it just as easily as Jackson Avenue
Square One, South 13th Street, great use of what could have been an austere space
Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters, the refitted Birmingham cafe/roastery is gorgeous
Uncommon Ground Coffee Roastery, another beautiful spot in another Cardiff arcade
Tradewind Espresso, another Bristol spot that could easily have been on the shortlist
Coffee & Fandisha, a lovely spot in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle
Victrola Roastery and Café, a well-appointed coffee shop/roastery in Seattle
Asado Coffee, River North, making the most of an old loading dock in Chicago
Upstairs Coffee, what is it with Birmingham and physically beautiful places?
Coava Coffee Roasters, Hawthorne, a gloriously-appointed cafe in an apartment building
Bakesmiths, which doesn’t just bake great cakes. What is it with Bristol?
200 Degrees, Carrington Street, edged out by the Birmingham branch
Stir Coffee Brixton, a well-appointed spot with a cosy back room
Wainwright’s Speciality Coffee, yet another beautiful Bristol Coffee Spot
And the winner is Filter + Fox
Runners-up: La Colombe, Blagden Alley and Sweetleaf, Jackson Avenue
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2016.
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