We enter the final day of the 2018 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2017 went to Homeground Coffee + Kitchen. Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart. The only slight snag is that I rarely get up and out of the house early enough to get to places before they stop serving breakfast!
That said, I’ve been doing so much travelling this last year that I’m now able to generate a healthy shortlist this year, although it surprises me how many places on this list are from the UK given how little time I’ve spent in the country this year! This has probably been helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts! In fact, given how often I have things from the breakfast menu for lunch, I wonder if I should rename this award “Best Brunch”…
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 sampled quite a bit of the menu at Half Cup and it was all excellent, with lots of interesting dishes on the menu. Particular standouts include the sweetcorn & courgette fritters and a most excellent pancake stack,. Half Cup has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Cake (for the banana bread), Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Exeter’s Uprising Bakehouse is both a bakery and a coffee shop which also happens to serve rather lovely breakfast and lunch menus, all the food prepared at the back on an open counter-top kitchen. There’s an unlimited toast option, while I had avocado, tomato salsa and poached egg on granary sourdough toast. Uprising Bakehouse has also been shortlisted for this year’s Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Moving over to the US and Philadelphia, Plenty Café has always been known for its food, particularly the original branch on East Passyunk. I’ve had dinner there before now, but it was the stuffed French Toast that got Plenty the nod for this shortlist. With light, fluffy bread, and, while sweet, but not sickly sweet. this is the gold standard of French Toast!
Staying in the US, but moving down to New Orleans, I visited Pax Treme the first week it had opened. Faced with an unusual and innovative breakfast menu, I had the biscuit, bacon, egg and cheese, with greens instead of bacon and a side of crushed potatoes. It was as excellent as it was different. Pax Treme has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
There are two flavours of the Aussie-inspired Bluestone Lane: the coffee shops and the brunch-serving cafes. The Rittenhouse Square branch in Philadelphia is definitely one of the latter and I’ve had a couple of excellent breakfasts there: the Aussie baked beans with eggs (a skillet of beans, topped with two poached eggs) and the Green Baked Eggs (another skillet-based eggs dish).
Staying in Australia (sort of) but moving to Amsterdam, I had an excellent breakfast at Monks Coffee Roasters, going for my personal favourite, Eggs Florentine. This was exactly as it said in the menu: poached eggs and sautéed spinach on a generous helping of sour-dough toast, all smothered in hollandaise sauce. Monks Coffee Roasters has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.
Back to the UK, where Mother Espresso, the Liverpool outpost of Manchester’s finest, North Tea Power, impressed me with a very fine vegetarian breakfast with fried egg, baked beans, hash brown, veggie sausage, loads of mushroom, half an avocado and sourdough toast.
Firecreek Coffee Company in Flagstaff, Arizona, has a small but excellent breakfast menu and a selection of bagels, while for lunch there’s a choice of savoury muffins and quiche. I went for something different, selecting the oat-flour waffle, which was delicious and really light, while not being too sweet or sugary. Sticking with oats, I popped in the next day for the oatmeal, served in a cappuccino cup, topped with blueberries and bananas.
The second branch of Wayland’s Yard, in Birmingham, faces some stiff competition on the breakfast front, but more than holds its own with an innovative menu featuring unusual twists on old favourites. I had the veggie brunch, two poached eggs (fried eggs are also an option), mushrooms, haloumi, spinach, toast, sweet potato hash balls and a pot of spicy baked beans (baked beans with the addition of chillies).
Escape the Daily Grind, in Balham, in south west London, is another that faces stiff competition on the breakfast front, making a virtue out of doing simple things well. I had the scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. I was rewarded with some light, fluffy, creamy eggs on crispy toast, which were pretty much perfect.
Staying in south west London, Story Coffee is known as much for its excellent brunches as it is for its excellent coffee (good enough for a spot on the Best Takeaway Coffee shortlist). I had scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast, a generous slice of sourdough toast, engulfed by a mound of rich, creamy scrambled eggs, while my baked beans, covered in a rich tomato sauce, had clearly never seen a tin in their lives.
It was my good fortune to find Bread, Espresso & around the corner from my hotel during my latest visit to Tokyo. Doing what the name suggests, it’s a bakery and coffee shop, which also serves a western-based breakfast menu. I had the French Toast, made with a single, thick slice of extremely spongy white bread, pretty much the ideal vehicle for French Toast.
A newcomer to Hoole, in Chester, Short + Stout is another Aussie-influenced coffee shop doing some excellent brunch dishes. My stack of corn and cauliflower fritters came interleaved by layers of tomato chutney and pickled red onion, all topped by grilled halloumi and mashed avocado, drizzled with a mint and lime yoghurt sauce. Short + Stout has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
You really can’t go wrong with unlimited toast for breakfast, which is pretty much the only item on offer at Manchester‘s Heart & Graft Coffee Shop. There’s a choice of sourdough, multi-grain sourdough and multi-grain wholemeal, and you pretty much help yourself, right down to toasting your own bread. Heart & Graft has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff and Best Physical Space Awards.
As the name suggests, Miami’s ALL DAY serves an all-day breakfast menu, which is awesome since it meant I could have breakfast for dinner (the baked double yoke, served in a cast iron skillet). I went back the following day to have breakfast for breakfast, choosing the Eggs Florentine. ALL DAY is also on the Best Filter Coffee Award shortlist.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2018.
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