First up today, the 2017 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by The Roasting Party. Initially, this award was only open to retailers, but in 2014, I expanded it to include roasters, who now dominate the award. Contenders have either appeared in the Meet the Roaster series or they are cafe/roasters who I have visited during the year.
Although the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink the majority of my coffee at home, so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention. The problem, with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist and this Award is no exception. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, by-and-large, to stick to either roasters I’ve written about as roasters or coffee shops where the beans are roasted on site.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Cartel Coffee Lab‘s sprawling headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, is both a wonderful coffee shop and also a lovely little roastery, although by now, production will probably have moved to the adjacent building. Cartel Coffee Lab has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.
Weanie Beans is a name of considerable pedigree in London’s speciality coffee scene, once best-known for a stall at King’s Cross on the patch now occupied by Craft Coffee. These days Weanie Beans is predominantly a roaster, producing various espresso blends and a small range of single-origins. although there is also a new coffee shop in the Home Counties.
I think of Allpress Espresso‘s site in 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, but kitted out with a modern, bespoke roaster turning out the famous Redchurch blend and a limited range of single-origins. Allpress is shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Sightglass is one of the iconic San Francisco coffee shop/roasters. This is Sightglass HQ, which is where it all started back in 2009. It houses the coffee bar, training room & offices and, importantly for this award, the vintage, cast iron roaster which is on the main shop floor as you come in. Sightglass is shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.
This is the second Hot Numbers in Cambridge, purpose-built as a coffee shop/roastery, although the main production has now moved to a dedicated facility south of the city. However, you can still see the 6kg Giesen roaster in action every now and then in the small roastery/office space at the back of the store beyond the counter. Trumpington Street has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
Another coffee shop/roastery, Panther Coffee in Miami is another with vintage coffee roaster in the shop itself. In this case, it’s a Panther roasts all its coffee here, on a 1927 Perfekt roaster. However, change is afoot since the roaster is nearing capacity and Panther has plans to move to a new roasting facility, where it will install a 22 kg version of the same machine. Panther roasts five espresso blends and between six to nine single-origins.
Badger & Dodo is a roaster/coffee shop chain with the roastery in Cork, while the coffee shop I visited was in Galway, on Ireland’s west coast. In that respect, it’s an exception to my selection criteria, since it doesn’t have the roaster in the coffee shop. Badger & Dodo only roasts single-origins which it serves on both espresso and filter.
Four Barrel Coffee is another of San Francisco’s iconic coffee shop/roasters. The Valencia branch is the original, with the back half of the store given over to a lovely, vintage roaster. However, it’s only used occasionally these days as there’s now a dedicated roastery. Four Barrel is shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Best Cake Awards.
Mia Coffee is another gem from my time in Vietnam. A roaster and coffee shop in Hoi An, it roasts all its own coffee and will soon be moving across the road to a new dedicated coffee shop/roastery that was being built while I was there and should be open by now. Like many in Vietnam, Mia Coffee champions links with Vietnamese coffee growers and only roasts/serves Vietnamese coffee.
Another Vietnamese gem, this time from Hanoi, Oriberry Coffee is a small chain which stands out from the crowd due to its links with Vietnamese coffee and tea farmers. A social enterprise founded in 2010, it works closely with local producers and roasts all its own coffee as well as working with local artisans to produce a range of outstanding pottery. Oriberry has also been shortlisted for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
For several years Yorks Bakery Café and its successors in Birmingham have been my go-to spots. When Yorks expanded its Stephenson Street branch next to New Street Station, space was made at the back for a roaster, which is now in full production, turning out a small range of single-origins, one for espresso, with the others roasted for filter.
Belfast’s Root & Branch, just off Ormeau Road, is a tiny spot, but that hasn’t stopped it installing a 6kg Giesen coffee roaster in the corner behind the counter, where Simon, the head roaster, produces the Saints & Scholars seasonal espresso blend as well as turning out a range of lightly-roasted coffees for both espresso and filter. Root & Branch has been shortlisted for this year’s Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Outdoor Seating Awards.
Cardiff’s Lufkin Coffee Roasters opened its doors in September 2015, roasting on a 1kg Topper and dedicated to serving pour-over. These days, you’ll see a 10kg Golden Roaster behind the counter, with Lufkin adding espresso-based drinks to the menu. Lufkin is also on the Best Physical Space and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot shortlists.
Carvetii has been on my radar for years, partly because it represents an object lesson in how to build a speciality coffee business in a non-speciality area from the ground up. Carvetii is an example of doing a few things and doing them well: there’s a seasonal espresso blend, three single-origins and a decaf, all produced at its new roastery in the heart of the Lake District. Carvetii is also shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
Our final entry is another where there’s no roaster in the coffee shop. I’ve included Shanghai’s Lanna Coffee because it epitomises direct trade, working directly with coffee farms in Yunnan province and roasting all the coffee there. It’s a lovely little coffee shop, with the Red Lantern blend on espresso and a range of single-origin/single-estate Yunnan coffees to buy or to enjoy as a pour-over. Lanna is also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot Special Award.
A special mention also needs to go to the following:
Acme Coffee Roasting Company, which missed out since the roaster’s no longer there
Sextant Coffee Roasters, another beautiful San Francisco coffee shop/roaster
Café de L’Ambre, a traditional Japanese kissaten, with all the coffee roasted on-site
The Workshop Coffee, another from Vietnam, roasting & serving some excellent coffee
Micro Roastery, another that missed out because the roaster’s no longer in the shop
Little Bean Roastery, roasting some excellent coffee in Shanghai
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2017.
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