Next up today, the 2018 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Society Café, Bristol. One of the most important things for me is how a Coffee Spot looks and feels. This, to me, is just as important as the coffee.
This award celebrates those Coffee Spots in which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in. It’s not just about physical beauty and elegance. Instead, it’s as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel. It’s another where I could have made two or three different shortlists, all with worthy winners. However, I have managed to whittle it down to just a single list for this year’s Award.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Peddler Coffee in Philadelphia occupies a beautiful brick-built building on a corner. From the outside, it looks pretty small, but it goes a long way back, with one wall of exposed bricks. I loved the wooden furniture as well as the large counter at the back. Peddler Coffee has also been shortlisted for both the Best Espresso and Best Filter Coffee Awards this year.
Staying in Philadelphia and another beautiful brick-built building. This time it’s more industrial than residential, the ReAnimator Coffee Roastery occupying the ground floor of a large, brick-built standalone warehouse-like building with gloriously high ceilings and massive windows. It’s the sort of space I could spend the whole afternoon in without even noticing. ReAnimator has also been shortlisted for the Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.
Back in the UK, the Elemental Collective in Stokes Croft in Bristol is in a five-sided building on a corner which narrows to almost a point where the door is. Massive windows look out onto the main road, while inside I loved the coin-topped tables. Not just a coffee shop, Elemental Collective is also a bakers, greengrocers and roastery, which gained it a place on the shortlist for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
When you first go into Party on Pavilion in Sloane Square, London, it looks like a tiny spot, with just a counter at the back and no seats. Then you catch sight of the stairs on the right which lead to the glorious upstairs. A lovely, light-filled space, it stretches from the front of the building to the back and is open to the rafters. Party on Pavilion has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Happiest Staff Award.
A delightful spot in a city, Chiang Mai, full of beautiful spot, Cottontree Coffee Roasters, it’s worth seeking out on aesthetic grounds alone for its high ceilings, and clean, uncluttered lines. The air-conditioned interior, with its whitewashed walls and wooden furniture, is a wonderfully peaceful space. Cottontree Coffee Roasters has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
The Black Penny, just to the west of Covent Garden in London, occupies a long, thin space, with the long, zig-zagging counter running down the left-hand side. The best part, however, is the almost cube-shaped back room, with its high ceilings and skylights. The Black Penny has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Hanoi’s RuNam Bistro is a beautifully-appointed building, complete with a lovely upstairs. This has multiple spaces, including a pair of rooms at the back (one above the other) plus a wonderful balcony. In keeping with this elegance, RuNam Bistro has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Monks Coffee Roasters in Amsterdam has a small, nearly square facade that hides a large, lovely interior that stretches all the way to a courtyard right at the back. There are plenty of different seating options, including bars and a variety of tables, plus a pair of benches outside on the pavement. Monks Coffee Roasters has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Breakfast Award.
Newcastle’s Camber Coffee is is now under new management, but still occupies the same glorious space on the first floor above the a combined cycle and fitness store, Start. It’s big to begin with, but the high ceilings and windows all along the front give it an even greater sense of space.
Durham’s Flat White Café has been around for about as long as the Coffee Spot, plying its trade from a small but delightful shop tucked away off a courtyard down a steeply-curving side street. There’s some lovely outside seating, but the interior is even better! Flat White Café has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
On my recent visits to Japan, I’ve been indebted to my friend, Christopher, for getting me out of Tokyo and up into the mountains near his home in the eastern Nagano Prefecture, where he introduced me to & Espresso which occupies an old, converted rice storehouse. I particularly loved the glorious upstairs. & Espresso is also shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
Café Myriade – Dominion Square might just be the best-appointed coffee shop I’ve ever been to. In a world of exposed brick and up-cycled furniture, it’s a refreshing change. Located in the basement of the Club Monaco clothing store on Montréal’s Dominion Square, it’s also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
Staying in Montréal, Paquebot Vieux-Montréal occupies a lovely, high-ceilinged space. Long and thin, perhaps the best bit is the mezzanine level at the back. You can sit on the benches around the three walls, or perch at the bar along the front, overlooking the counter below.
I’ve long been a fan of Manchester-based roaster, Heart & Graft, and now it has a coffee shop all of its own. And what a beauty! Downstairs is okay, but the real gem is the light-filled upstairs underneath the railway arch. What could have been a plain, single space is cleverly broken up into multiple spaces. Heart & Graft has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff and Best Breakfast Awards.
Our final entry is from Edinburgh and Detour Espresso, a lovely, cube-like space just south of the Meadows. Sometimes people over-complicate the fitting out of a coffee shop. In contrast, Detour Espresso is simplicity itself, with the counter on one side and a C-shaped bench with tables running around the opposite wall. The tall windows at the front make it a wonderfully bright, light-filled space.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
Half Cup could have been on half-a-dozen shortlists, including this one
Exe Coffee Roasters, a lovely upstairs with some eclectic up-cycled furniture
Peixoto, not just a coffee shop and roaster, it’s also a lovely, bright space
Grasshopper Café, occupying the front and back rooms of a lovely Peak District cottage
Sólo Espresso, in a lovely basement-like space
Shin Coffee, Nguyễn Thiệp, the first of two Shin Coffees that could have been this list
The Good Coffee Cartel, occupying multiple ground-floor rooms of a Glasgow tenement
Shin Coffee, Hồ Huấn Nghiệp, as beautifully-appointed as the other Shin Coffee
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2018.
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