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 The Speciality Coffee Shop. 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. However, this award isn’t just for happy staff; it’s for any staff who go that extra mile to make their coffee shop a special place.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
The Gentlemen Baristas projects a certain jolly image and this seems to have rubbed off on the staff, who are some the most cheerful I’ve known. The Gentlemen Baristas has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Physical Space Award.
Down on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, the staff at Go Get Em Tiger are exceptional. I was impressed with the professionalism and level of commitment, plus the amount of time they took when busy to answer all my annoying questions (and this was before I’d said who I was). Go Get Em Tiger has been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Going to Silhouette on Cheapside (and the original in Hackney) to see Lee was always one of the highlights of any coffee trip to London (it was Lee who convinced me to visit Los Angeles instead of driving past it and recommended Go Get Em Tiger). It’s such a shame that Silhouette has closed and I wish Lee (and Syirin) all the best in their future endeavours. Silhouette is on the Best Cake shortlist.
George Howell is about more than selling coffee. The Exploratorium, in the Godfrey Hotel is a good example, with talks, cuppings & masterclasses, all open to the public. Otherwise, it’s the retail section, where you can chat with the knowledgeable staff. George Howell is on the Best Cake shortlist.
Stanley & Ramona is run by a lovely couple, disappointingly called Lee and Lucy, although they do redeem themselves by having alliterative names. A small cosy, spot, you’re almost obliged to talk with Lee & Lucy, so it’s just as well that they are excellent company. Stanley & Ramona is also on this year’s shortlists for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Smallest Coffee Spot Awards
Making coffee in all weathers when you’re outside takes a certain something. Doing so and remaining cheerful throughout it all is something else. I was therefore very impressed with Charlie and Harry at Flat Cap Victoria who are two of the most likeable people you’ll meet in coffee. Flat Cap Victoria is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Takeaway Coffee Award.
There must be something in the water in Harrogate since this is the first of four entries from Harrogate on the shortlist this year. The staff at Baltzersens struck me with their cheerful efficiency, particularly given how busy they were. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for them. Baltzersens has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Breakfast Award.
The Steamie is on the eastern edge of Glasgow’s West End in Finniestan, a lovely little spot serving excellent coffee and food. I’d run into the owner, Stephen, before, but turned up unannounced like I always do to find that Stephen wasn’t there. Instead, I was well looked after by my barista, Amy, had no idea who I was until I introduced myself at the end. The Steamie has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Breakfast Award.
I’m always embarrassed when I can’t speak the language of the country I’m in (ie most of the time) and so I’m always grateful when staff take the time and effort to communicate clearly with me, particularly when they don’t speak any English. The staff at Sarutahiko Coffee in Omotesandō, Tokyo went above and beyond the call of duty in making me feel welcome
Flying the flag for Harrogate is its second entry, Hoxton North. A lovely spot, the staff were very friendly and helpful, happy to go that extra mile, even when I turned up not long before closing time. Twice.
Hoxton North has also been shortlisted for this year’s Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Staying in Harrogate, Westmoreland Speciality Coffee is one of those places where you go in to see the staff (in particular owner, Jamie) as much as to drink the coffee. When I was there, he was having an animated conversation with a regular about Wales’ chances in the upcoming Six Nations rugby championship. Westmoreland Speciality Coffee has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Awards.
For the Good of the People Coffee features Claire, one of my favourite baristas, who I’ve known ever since she worked the Bean About Town coffee van, For the Good of the People Coffee’s predecessor on the South Bank. For the Good of the People Coffee is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Takeaway Coffee and Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station Awards.
The staff at Buzz Killer Espresso, Logan and Madison, were exceptionally friendly, and seemed to be very happy in their jobs, which creates such a great atmosphere in a coffee shop. I was also fortunate to meet Tim, who for the last two years has been roasting Buzz Killer’s coffee. Sadly Buzz Killer has left its long-time home on Damen Avenue (which I visited) to move further up Milwaukee Avenue to Logan Square.
The fourth and final appearance of Harrogate on this shortlist, LMDC Espresso Bar is run by owner, Leslie, and Head Barista, Elliott, two very lovely, friendly and welcoming people. They’ve fostered a great atmosphere, which has helped LMDC Espresso Bar to gain a place on the shortlist for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
San Francisco’s Saint Frank Coffee is a coffee shop/roaster with a fancy, bespoke espresso machine and automated SP9 pour-over makers. However, it’s staff that make a coffee shop and Lauren, my barista, was one of the best, happy to talk me through all the options (she recommend a split shot because I couldn’t make my mind up). Saint Frank Coffee is also shortlisted for the Best Cake and Best Espresso Awards.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2017.
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