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 Westmoreland Speciality Coffee. 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.
Providero started life as an old Citroën van and Llandudno Junction is its first bricks-and-mortar store. As lovely as the coffee shop itself is, the staff are even lovelier. You can sit downstairs and chat with them, or head upstairs where you’ll find lots more tables. Providero, Llandudno Junction, has also been shortlisted for the both the Best Cake and Best Espresso Awards.
There are many wonderful things about Peixoto. For example, it was shortlisted for both the Best Roaster/Retailer Award and the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award. However, it gets the nod here for its incredible friendly and helpful staff (and thanks for looking after my jumper!).
The first coffee shop of Winchester-based The Roasting Party, Party on Pavilion has inherited the infectious friendliness of Kirby and Wes, the Aussie duo behind The Roasting Party. As a result, you’ll be sure of a warm welcome!
New York City has (in my opinion) for being unfriendly, but nothing could be further from the truth at Café Integral. A family-owned company, I’ve always been warmly welcomed by the staff, both here and in its other branches. Café Integral has also been shortlisted for both the Best Overseas Coffee Spot and Best Espresso Awards.
The second Melbourne in Lichfield, this is the big sibling to the original on Bolt Court. However, despite being much, much larger and spread over multiple rooms, the same friendliness that defined the original remains, led by owner, Debs. Melbourne in Lichfield, Bird Street, has also been shortlisted for this year’s Most Passionate About Coffee and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Unsurprisingly, the original Melbourne in Lichfield, a tiny kiosk on Bolt Court has also made it onto this shortlist. I was expertly served, and given a warm welcome, by Sophie (who is now in Lund, Sweden, studying for a Masters degree). Melbourne in Lichfield, Bolt Court, has also been shortlisted for both the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Espresso Awards.
Surrey Hills Coffee started life on Chapel Street in Guildford, but over the summer moved to a new, bigger space on Jeffries Passage. The staff at Surrey Hills have always been excellent and that was exemplified by how many of the staff pitched in to fit out the new space in record time. While I don’t spend a lot of time in Guildford these days due to all my travelling, I always get a warm welcome whenever I go in and it’s always great to see familiar faces behind the counter. Surrey Hills Coffee is also on the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award shortlist.
I’ve always been impressed by the levels of service in Tokyo‘s coffee shops, but About Life Coffee Brewers took it up a notch, helped by the fact I went there every day for a week in July. About Life Coffee Brewers has also been shortlisted for both the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Takeaway Coffee Awards.
Another Tokyo coffee shop taking service to another level is Sarutahiko Coffee. At the Ebisu branch, you’re welcomed when you enter and thanked when you leave. The coffee is excellent, but it was the staff that kept me coming back. Sarutahiko Coffee, Ebisu has also made it onto the shortlist for this year’s Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
Chicago’s Big Shoulders was a new name to me this year, but it’s been going (as a roaster) for nine years ago. I briefly met the owner, Tim Coonan, at the Big Shoulders branch, but I was equally taken by the rest of staff who provided me with exemplary service, despite not knowing who I was.
I’m somewhat embarrassed that it took me about four years to make it out to Hoole in Chester to visit Little Yellow Pig. A wonderfully friendly brunch spot with excellent coffee, the tone is set by the owners, who you’ll find there every day. Little Yellow Pig has also been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
A relative newcomer to Manchester‘s growing speciality coffee scene, the clue is in the name. Just Between Friends is sufficiently small that you really have to be friendly with the staff (and they with you) since there’s no escape! Ever better is that you’re pretty much guaranteed a warm welcome, whether its from the owner, or, as it was when I visited, by one of her staff.
I’ve long been a fan of Manchester-based roaster, Heart & Graft, partly because of the infectious personalities of owners James and Sean. This has been passed onto the Heart & Graft Coffee Shop where I was well looked after by Ashleigh and Josh, both of whom recognised me even though we’d never met. Heart & Graft Coffee shop has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space and Best Breakfast Awards.
I had a similar experience at Lemana Coffee & Kitchen in Lymington, where barista Jass recognised me. I’d been a little worried about Lemana, an old favourite that had changed ownership this year, but I needn’t have. The new team is just as friendly! Lemana Coffee & Kitchen has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
Our final entry comes from Glasgow and newcomer, Toro Coffee, where you’ll be assured of a warm welcome from owners Ross and Gill, who’ll you’ll find behind the counter. Toro Coffee has also been shortlisted for both the Best Filter Coffee and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
111 Roasting Works – Tasting Room, particularly for the warm welcome from Jacob.
Vice City Bean, a friendly welcome in Miami
Spitfire Coffee, extending the hand of hospitality in New Orleans
Cartel Coffee Lab, Phoenix Sky Harbor, where, despite being busy, the staff had so much time for me
Cottontree Coffee Roasters and the lovely owners, Fai (Cotton) and Ton (Tree)
Monks Coffee Roasters and the ultra-friendly and unflappable staff
Flat White Café who treated me like a local
Lattest another awesome example of Japanese service in Tokyo
Verve Omotesando where I was instantly recognised between visits (3 months apart)
Stockholm Roast / The Tobacco Stand, another friendly Tokyo welcome
The Scandinavian Coffee Pod, warm and welcoming in Cheltenham
Metal Hands Coffee Co, providing some excellent service in Beijing
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2018.
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