We kick off the third day of the 2017 Coffee Spot Awards with the shortlist for the “Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating” Award, celebrating all those wonderful Coffee Spots with excellent outdoor seating. This was won last year by Expresso Base.
To qualify for this award, it’s not just a case of sticking a couple of tables or chairs on the pavement outside your coffee shop. Too often, what could be a lovely spot is marred by traffic noise, or cramped conditions, or just being in the wrong place. The best outside seating is often away from the road and passing pedestrians and offers shelter from the wind, rain and/or sun (although rarely all three at once!). Fortunately, there are plenty of Coffee Spots which do exactly that and this is one of the award shortlists that I could have filled many times over!
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Down by the docks in Bristol. Little Victories is the new sibling of Small St Espresso, one of Bristol’s original speciality coffee shops. However, the two are very different: while Small St is, well, small, Little Victories is much bigger and while Small St has a bench outside, Little Victories has a large outdoor seating area on a pedestrianised route from the river to south Bristol. Little Victories has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Blessed with Los Angeles’ wonderful climate, Go Get Em Tiger on Hollywood Boulevard has an excellent outside seating area, on a raised platform overlook and set back from the street. It shares this with the ice cream parlour next door, so you get double the seating! Go Get Em Tiger has also been shortlisted for this year’s Happiest Staff and Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
There are many wonderful things about Hot Numbers on Cambridge’s Trumpington Street, including the on-site roastery, the gorgeous coffee and the space itself. However, what’s won it a spot on the shortlist is the large, secluded garden, lined with benches and with plenty of tables. There’s also a handy tree to provide some shade in the summer. Hot Numbers, Trumptington Street, is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Down in Brixton Market, Federation Coffee has a lovely interior. However, you can also sit “outside” at one of the tables in the aisles of the market, benefiting from the market roof, soaring high above you, which is always a bonus is the British climate! Federation Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station and Best Espresso Awards.
I think of Allpress Dalston as the “new” roastery and cafe site, a sign of how long Allpress was roasting on Redchurch Street. However, it’s been here almost three years and as well as occupying a lovely, old brick-built building, it has a fantastic, large garden at the front, sheltering from the road behind a high brick wall. Allpress has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Takeaway Coffee and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Coffeewerk + Press is spread over three floors of a lovely building. However, it is the small, outside seating area in the front of the shop on a busy, pedestrianised street in the heart of Galway that has won Coffeewerk + Press a spot on this shortlist. Coffeewerk + Press has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
The original Caravan on London’s Exmouth Market has been an iconic fixture of London’s speciality coffee scene since 2010. There’s a large outside seating area around the main entrance at the back, populated by large picnic tables, which makes the most of the broad pavement on the pedestrianised Exmouth Market. Caravan Exmouth Market is also shortlisted for the this year’s Best Breakfast Award.
The Espresso Station is a delightful roastery and coffee shop, tucked away down an alley north of Hoi An’s historic centre in Vietnam. It’s won a spot on this shortlist thanks to its spacious courtyard that faces out onto the alley, sheltering under a broad awning to protect you from the fierce Vietnamese sun. The Espresso Station has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
A stalwart of Leicester’s speciality coffee scene, St Martin’s is tucked away down an alley in the pedestrianised precinct of the same name. It has two outdoor seating areas, two pairs of picnic tables flanked the doors and sheltered under a large awning, and a larger, exposed collection of tables at the far end of the building. St Martin’s has also been shortlisted for the this year’s Best Breakfast Award.
At the northern end of London’s Leman Street, set back from the busy road, and sheltering under the projecting upper floor of the building above, Treves & Hyde makes absolutely the most of what it’s got to create a rather excellent outdoor seating area to go with a rather lovely interior. The coffee’s pretty good too!
Shanghai’s Seesaw 433 is a tricky spot to find, but it’s worth it. At the back of a design centre, it faces out onto an enclosed courtyard, with a glass roof, which soars above it, surrounded on all four sides by a three-storey building. The only thing that stops it being the perfect setting is the humidity in the summer, although it was fine when I returned in December! Seesaw 433 is also shortlisted for the Best Cake and Best Overseas Coffee Spot Awards.
Just off the busy Ormeau Road on a quiet side street, Belfast’s Root & Branch occupies a tiny building, but what it lacks in space inside it more than makes up for outside. There are three tables outside on the pavement, sheltered by projecting canopies, while behind the gates that lead to Root & Branch proper is an exquisite courtyard with furniture made from old PE racks and the trunk of a fallen beech tree. Root & Branch is also shortlisted for this year’s Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Roaster/Retailer Awards.
Another that’s making the most of its natural climate is Miami’s Panther Coffee. This is the original roastery/coffee shop and while the low, single-storey building is functional, the large outside seating area out front really lifts it above the ordinary, particularly the almost square table that surrounds an old tree that provides vital shade from the tropical sun. Panther has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Overseas Coffee Spot Awards.
Kyoto’s Vermillion Café has a small terrace outside the front of the coffee shop on a narrow, secluded lane. It would be the ideal outside seating area, except at the back, there’s a terrace overlooking a small pond that is even more perfect. Vermillion Cafe has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Awards.
Canterbury’s Micro Roastery occupies a large house down a side street in the medieval city centre. Perhaps its best feature is the small, quiet enclosed garden at the back, with an interesting array of bench seats and tables, all squeezed efficiently into a surprisingly small space.
A special mention also needs to go to the following, any of whom could have made the main shortlist:
Stir, with a spacious outside seating area on a sunny corner in Cambridge
The Gentlemen Baristas, Union Street & its terraced garden at the back of the first floor
Nkora in Shoreditch, with a small, secluded garden
Timmy Green in Victoria’s Nova Complex, with tables spilling out onto the pavement
Sextant Coffee Roasters, another secluded back garden, this time in San Francisco
Weekenders Coffee, at the back of a parking lot in Kyoto. It’s better than it sounds!
Lever & Bloom on Byng Place in Bloomsbury with a magnificent church as a backdrop
Ground Control, with a small seating terrace out front on a busy road in Islington
5th Element Coffee, with its large side terrace, now sadly closed in Madison
200 Degrees, Leicester, with several tables out front on a pedestrianised street
Lufkin Coffee, with a custom-built wooden seating area opposite the shop in Cardiff
Canopy Coffee, with its cosy tables tucked away around the corner in Guildford
Porter, where you can sit on the platform of the disused Madison station
District, Ormeau Road, with a large, enclosed seating area on a busy Belfast street
Society Café, Bristol, with its tables outside on the quayside
Nem Coffee & Espresso, with its cute bench on the porch in Tokyo
200 Degrees, Cardiff, with the usual 200 Degrees tables out front
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2017.
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