2018 Awards – Best Filter Coffee

A cup of the Casablanca single-origin Nicaraguan by Cafe Integral, made with the Modbar pour-over module using a Chemex.We continue the second day with the next shortlist for the 2018 Coffee Spot Awards, the “Best Filter Coffee” Award, which was won last year by Café Integral, Chicago. A major revelation since starting the Coffee Spot is that filter coffee isn’t that over-brewed, stewed muck that bad coffee chains serve out of urns. It’s actually an amazing, delicate drink that has opened my eyes to a whole new world of coffee.

This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which continue to help me on my journey of discovery. To give you an idea of how far I have come since starting the Coffee Spot, I initially owned a cafetiere and an espresso machine and either drank my coffee at home with milk (cafetiere) or as espresso. Now I make the bulk of my coffee with my Aeropress and have a grinder dedicated to filter coffee. I always drink my filter coffee black and increasingly think that if I have to put milk in my coffee to make it drinkable, I’m drinking the wrong coffee!

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Exe Coffee Roasters, and a Peruvian pour-over, one of the best-smelling coffees ever!
  • Cafe Grumpy, Nolita, serving a rare Yellow Bourbon variety from El Salvador.
  • Underline Coffee, where I had a sweet, well-balanced Colombian Geisha.
  • Peddler Coffee, which served me a Chemex of a Finca San Jose from Costa Rica.
  • Pax Treme, where I had another amazingly sweet coffee, this time a Colombian.
  • Blue Bottle Coffee, Aoyama, which served me a gorgeous Kenyan pour-over.
  • Party on Pavilion, where I tried a Kenyan single-origin through the Aeropress & Chemex.
  • Shin Coffee, which served an outstanding cà phê phin (traditional Vietnamese coffee).
  • Gallery Drip Coffee, serving a full-bodied, full-flavoured Thai coffee.
  • The Watch House, where I had a naturally-processed Ethiopian Ardi batch-brew.
  • Passion House Coffee Roasters, with another excellent Peruvian pour-over.
  • V69, and another excellent batch-brew, a washed Kayon Mountain roasted by Curve. 
  • Lowdown Coffee, serving a gorgeous, rich, well-rounded washed Kenyan.
  • Toro Coffee, where my batch-brew tasted of tomatoes!
  • ALL DAY, where I enjoyed a Kalita Wave of an Ethiopian coffee from local roasters Per'la.
Exe Coffee Roasters, and a Peruvian pour-over, one of the best-smelling coffees ever!1 Cafe Grumpy, Nolita, serving a rare Yellow Bourbon variety from El Salvador.2 Underline Coffee, where I had a sweet, well-balanced Colombian Geisha.3 Peddler Coffee, which served me a Chemex of a Finca San Jose from Costa Rica.4 Pax Treme, where I had another amazingly sweet coffee, this time a Colombian.5 Blue Bottle Coffee, Aoyama, which served me a gorgeous Kenyan pour-over.6 Party on Pavilion, where I tried a Kenyan single-origin through the Aeropress & Chemex.7 Shin Coffee, which served an outstanding cà phê phin (traditional Vietnamese coffee).8 Gallery Drip Coffee, serving a full-bodied, full-flavoured Thai coffee.9 The Watch House, where I had a naturally-processed Ethiopian Ardi batch-brew.10 Passion House Coffee Roasters, with another excellent Peruvian pour-over.11 V69, and another excellent batch-brew, a washed Kayon Mountain roasted by Curve. 12 Lowdown Coffee, serving a gorgeous, rich, well-rounded washed Kenyan.13 Toro Coffee, where my batch-brew tasted of tomatoes!14 ALL DAY, where I enjoyed a Kalita Wave of an Ethiopian coffee from local roasters Per'la.15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A lovely light-fitting from Exe Coffee Roasters in Exeter, made from an upcycled espresso boiler.Exe Coffee Roasters

I had the opportunity to try a Peruvian pour-over at Exe Coffee Roasters, from the La Fe San Juan farm in Chanchamayo province. Preparing using a V60, it was one of the best-smelling coffees I’ve had, sweet and full-bodied, while as it cooled, more delicate flavours came through. All-in-all, quite heavenly! Exe Coffee Roasters has also been shortlisted for Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting  Award.

The Cafe Grumpy logo from the bottom of the menu on the wall of the Nolita branch.Café Grumpy, Nolita

I had a lovely Malacara B, a rare Yellow Bourbon variety from El Salvador offerings through the Kalita Wave, a coffee that is exclusive to New York coffee shop/roaster chain, Café Grumpy. I found it a lovely, smooth, fruity coffee which evolved nicely as it cooled, the coffee’s sweetness coming through as the temperature dropped.

The Underline Coffee sign hanging outside the front of the street under the High Line on W20th Street in New York.Underline Coffee

Staying in New York, I had a Kalita Wave of the Jeremias Lasso, a Colombian Geisha, at Underline Coffee. Very sweet and well-balanced, it had lots of flavour and a good body, more than holding its own as it cooled, being just as good, if not better, when cold. Underline is also shortlisted for Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.

Espresso in a glass at Peddlar Coffee, a single-origin Brazilian Materia.Peddler Coffee

Staying in the US, but moving a little south to Philadelphia, Peddler Coffee served me an excellent Finca San Jose from Costa Rica as a Chemex. This had a surprising amount of body (for a Chemex) and was well-balanced, with a strong flavour. Peddler Coffee has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Espresso and Best Physical Space  Awards.

An Award-winning cup of filter coffee, a V60 of a Colombian, roasted by Onyx and served at Pax Treme in New Orelans.

Pax Treme

Still in the US, but this time all the way down in New Orleans, I had a V60 of a Colombian, roasted by Onyx. In the bag it smelled amazing, while in the cup, it really came into its own as it cooled, developing a rich sweetness. It lost a little of this as it cooled further, but that only allowed the fruity notes to come through even more strongly. Pax Treme has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

The remains of my single-origin Kenyan pour-over in a glass mug, as served in Blue Bottle in the Aoyama district of Tokyo.Blue Bottle Coffee, Aoyama

Staying with a US theme, but moving to Japan, Blue Bottle Coffee in Tokyo served me a lovely Kenyan single-origin pour-over through the Blue Bottle Dripper. This smelled gorgeous, with beautiful floral notes, while in the cup, it was well-balanced, smooth, subtle, fruity. It tasted just as good as it cooled, holding its own even when cold. Blue Bottle Coffee is also shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.

Some lovely latte art in an equally lovely piccolo made with the Party Blend at Party on Pavilion, London and served in a glass on a black saucer.Party on Pavilion

Party on Pavilion is the first coffee shop of Winchester-based Aussie imports, The Roasting Party. I had a Kenyan through the Aeropress and Chemex, the coffee tasting surprisingly different. Through the Aeropress, it was rich and fruity, with plenty of body; through the Chemex, it was far more subtle. Party on Pavilion has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Physical Space and Happiest Staff Awards.

Synchronicity: two baristas pouring milk in cappuccinos at Shin Coffee, Ho Chi Minh City, VIetnam.Shin Coffee, Nguyễn Thiệp

I was extremely impressed with the quality of the coffee I found in Vietnam. Shin Coffee, in Ho Chi Minh City, I had an outstanding cà phê phin (traditional Vietnamese coffee) using a blend of Indonesian and Vietnamese coffee. Shin Coffee is also on the Best Overseas Coffee Spot shortlist.

The sign from Gallery Drip Coffee in the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre, showing four pour-over cones.Gallery Drip Coffee

Bangkok’s Gallery Drip Coffee specialises is pour-over. I had the Mae Ton Loung from Doi Saket, Chiang Mai. This was served in a slightly flared, cylindrical, handleless mug and proved to be a full-bodied, full-flavoured coffee which held its own as it cooled. Gallery Drip Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.

A batch-brew of a beautiful Ethiopian Ardi naturally-processed coffee, served at The Watch House on Bermondsey Street, London.The Watch House, Bermondsey Street

I love pour-over, but these days, batch-brew can be every bit as good. The Watch House on Bermondsey Street in South East London, served me a naturally-processed Ethiopian Ardi, roasted by Ozone. Rich and fruity, it was bursting with flavour and still gorgeous when it was cold. The Watch House has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Cake Award.

Passion House Coffee Roasters, as seen from the other side of Kedzie Avenue in Chicago.Passion House Coffee Roasters

Back to the US and Chicago, where Passion House served me a direct trade Peruvian Templo de la Luna mad using the Fellow Stagg pour-over dripper on the SP9. The resuting coffee proved to be very smooth, delicate and drinkable, maturing considerably as it cooled. It was also beautifully-presented, served in a small, Chemex-shaped glass carafe, a doubled-walled glass on the side.

The front of Bespoke Cycling on Milk Street in the City of London, home of V69.V69

Back in London, and V69 served me another excellent batch-brew, a washed Kayon Mountain from Ethiopia, roasted by Curve. Smooth and clean, it had hints of fruit that came to the fore as it cooled. I lingered long enough that the last remnants of my coffee were cold by the time I’d finished, at which point it was very fine indeed.

 

My pour-over of a Washed Kenyan from Morgon Coffee Roasters served at Lowdown Coffee in Edinburgh.Lowdown Coffee

Edinburgh’s Lowdown Coffee uses roasters from all over Europe. My coffee,a pour-over through the Kalita Wave, was from Sweden’s Morgon Coffee Roasters, a washed Kenyan from the Rutuma Cooperative. This was absolutely gorgeous, a rich, well-rounded coffee that grew on me as it cooled, getting fruitier as it went. Lowdown Coffee is also on the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement and Most Passionate About Coffee Award shortlists.

The Toro Coffee logo, taken from the sign outside the shop on Pollockshaws Road.Toro Coffee

Staying in Scotland, but this time in Glasgow, newcomers Toro Coffee served up a batch-brew from The Good Coffee Cartel, a Kenyan Gondo AA, which had a mellow, fruity flavour which I slowly realised was tomato. Toro Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting and the Happiest Staff Awards.

 

A lovely Ethiopian pour-over through the Kalita Wave, roasted by Per'La and served at ALL DAY in Miami.ALL DAY

Last but not least, Miami’s ALL DAY served me an Ethiopian from local roaster, Per’la, made using the Kalita Wave. This was a lovely, full-bodied, fruity coffee, beautifully-presented on a metal tray, served in carafe with a glass on the side. ALL DAY has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Breakfast Award.


A special mention needs to go to the following:

Wrecking Ball, Union Street for its Sulawesi Toraja Toarco Jaya from Indonesia
Sólo Espresso for a naturally-processed single-origin from Taypiplaya, Bolivia
Cottontree Coffee Roasters for a V60 of a locally-grown Doi Chang coffee
Velodrome Coffee Co for a Guatemala Francisco Morales through the Clever Dripper


And the winner is Pax Treme
Runners-up: Party on Pavilion and The Watch House, Bermondsey Street

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2018.


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