Welcome to what was meant to be the final 2018 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of yesterday. Instead it’s today’s first shortlist (delayed by the huge shortlists for the Best Espresso and Smallest Coffee Spot Awards). It’s the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2017 by Coffee Lab, Salisbury.
Despite what it says on the tag line, the Coffee Spot’s not all about the coffee. After all, what would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this Award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.
This is another of my favourite Awards and while I didn’t visit that many dedicated cake spots, I was nonetheless treated to some absolutely fantastic cake along the way, proving that, like good coffee, the more you look, the more good cake you find.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
I’ve had many fabulous things over several visits to London‘s Half Cup, including some amazing breakfasts, but what got Half Cup the nod for this shortlist was the banana bread with espresso-flavoured mascarpone and pecan nuts. Served warm, it was superb, but incredibly rich and, for once, I struggled to finish it. Also on the shortlists for Best Breakfast, Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Providero has a range of cakes from old friends Cakesmiths, down in Bristol. On my first ever visit to Providero, I had a rather fabulous slice of the Victoria Sponge, one of my favourite Cakesmiths offerings (other than the Smashing Pumpkin Bread). Providero, Llandudno Junction, has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Espresso and Happiest Staff Awards.
I am (as my waistline will attest) a sucker for a good doughnut and the first of two on this year’s shortlist is from The Pocket in Belfast, where I had a chocolate custard doughnut. This was a light, fluffy doughnut, coated in plenty of sugar and with an awesome creamy filling. The Pocket also made it onto this year’s Best Outdoor Seating and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award shortlists.
Coffeesmith, in Witney, has elevated the humble toasted teacake to an art form if the one I had on my visit is anything to go by! It was fabulous and served with a big slab of butter and a pot of blackcurrant jam. Coffeesmith has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
I had a blueberry cheesecake muffin at 200 Degrees in Leeds, an intriguing combination which lived up to its promise. It consisted of a lovely, moist sponge, packed with blueberries and chunks of creamy cheesecake mix, the perfect accompaniment to my espresso. 200 Degrees has also been shortlisted for this year’s Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
All the cakes at The Epiphany in Bristol are prepared on-site. I had banana and chocolate cake with peanut butter and nutmeg frosting. This was delicious, with a cake base, rather than a sponge. The Epiphany was also shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Outdoor Seating Awards.
Moving on to Thailand, and Chiang Mai’s Cottontree Coffee Roasters, where I had a hot custard pastry, which had wonderful light pastry and a rich, but not overly-sweet filling, the perfect accompaniment to my coffee. Cottontree Coffee Roasters is also on the shortlist for this year’s Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Physical Space Awards.
Staying in Thailand, but this time in Bangkok, Rocket is a small chain of upmarket all-day brunch spots. Technically I had breakfast, but it was five o’clock in the afternoon, so I’ve included my pancakes in the Best Cake shortlist instead. Thick, fluffy, light and topped with honey, cream, banana and flaked macadam nuts, these were absolutely divine.
Returning to South East London. The Watch House served me with the perfect hazelnut brownie, a wonderful cake, gorgeous, rich, and gooey that went perfectly with my Ethiopian Ardi batch-brew (that got the Watch House a spot on the Best Filter Coffee Award shortlist).
Staying in London, I had an excellent dark cherry and marzipan slice at Craving Coffee in Tottenham. This had a strong almond taste from the marzipan, and a rich, light cake. Craving Coffee has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
On my recent Midwest road trip, I passed through Traverse City, Michigan’s cherry capital, so it would have been rude not to have something sweet and cherry-related. BLK \ MRKT makes all its own pies in the on-site kitchen, so I had a very lovely hand pie that I took away with me. Typically this is filled with cherries, but on the day I was there, it was a blueberry one… The best-laid plans, etc…
Talking of pies, other than being all-round excellent, Manchester‘s Idle Hands has built its reputation on coffee & pies, the latter all made fresh by Lucy, the co-owner. Naturally, I had to have one, settling for the peach with apple strudel topping, with a side of whipped cream. My only complaint is that it was so good that I’d eaten it before I’d really noticed anything else about it… Idle Hands has also been shortlisted for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
Although Roscioli served me the best espresso I had in Rome, it’s also an outstanding pasticceria, so my friend Amanda and I made sure we sampled one or two (or maybe 10; you have to be thorough you know). And they really were most excellent! Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria has also been shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
Manchester‘s Siop Shop began as Blawd, bakers of extremely highly-regarded doughnuts, so naturally I had to have one, freshly fried that morning in the shop. With a choice of at least nine flavours, I went for raspberry. My light, sugary doughnut had a crispy top, while the centre was filled with raspberry jam, the tartness of the jam perfectly off-setting the doughnut’s sweetness. Siop Shop is also shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
Cheltenham’s Scandinavian Coffee Pod, other than being a delightful spot to drink coffee, served me a rather wonderful lingonberry and cream cheese cake which I described as a Victoria sponge in friand form. Either way, it was excellent.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
March Coffee, where I had a rather fabulous blueberry doughnut
Peddler Coffee, whose toasted heirloom whole-wheat English muffin was perfect
Gallery Drip Coffee, where I had an excellent cheesecake
The Roastery by Nozy for yet another doughnut, this time a NY Ring
Metal Hands Coffee Co for another excellent cheesecake
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2018.
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