Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2018, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2017 by Coffee + Beer. For me, this is one of the most important awards, and also one of the hardest to judge, which is why I’ve left it to the last day.
It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. Everyone who I’ve covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there, both for the coffee and for those who make it. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.
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 never expected to find anything as wonderful as the Tasting Room at 111 Roasting Works in Flagstaff, which is what won it a spot on the shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award. However, I was also struck by the passion for great coffee, particularly from my barista, Jacob, and his three kettle technique for making pour-over at an altitude of 2,000m!
Milk Teeth Café & Stores in Bristol is pretty much the epitome of the neighbourhood coffee shop, which is why it was shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award. What struck me was the passion of the owner, Josh. For him, making excellent coffee is a given, but he wants Milk Teeth to be much more than that, believing that all business can (and should) be carried out in a socially-conscious way.
The first coffee shop of old friends, Sheffield’s Foundry Coffee Roasters, this is an amazing coffee shop, with the passion of the owners, Lee and Callum, shining through everything that they do. This extends to the wonderful staff as well. Foundry Coffee also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
A long-time favourite of mine, Ox Coffee in Philadelphia, starting roasting its own coffee, which is excellent news for owners, Max and Will. I love what they have done with Ox and have watched the coffee shop evolve and grow over the years as Max and Will pour themselves and their love for coffee into Ox. Ox has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Camper Coffee Co. started life as a small fleet of mobile coffee vans, but the bricks-and-mortar store, in McCoys Arcade, was described to me by one of the baristas as the speciality coffee wing of Camper. Showcasing the output local roaster Roastworks on espresso, this is joined by a guest, plus two more on filter. Camper Coffee Co. has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
I’ve known Todd and Courtney, the pair behind The Good Coffee Cartel since their days working together at the now defunct Avenue Coffee Roasting Co. The Good Coffee Cartel is many things: a roaster of some excellent coffee, a fantastic coffee shop and a ceramics workshop. The Good Coffee Cartel is also shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Awards.
Melbourne in Lichfield was set-up by Australian owner, Debs, because she couldn’t find decent coffee in her adopted home town of Lichfield. Her enthusiasm is infectious, spreading through everything at both the original branch on Bolt Court and this, the second branch on Bird Street. Melbourne in Lichfield (both branches) have also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Another coffee shop with Australian links, Rosslyn Coffee is a little different. Aussie owned/inspired cafes are often known for their brunches as much, if not more than, their coffee. At Rosslyn, the focus is almost exclusively on the coffee, combined with Aussie hospitality. There’s a bespoke house-blend espresso, roasted by Modern Standard, with guest options from some of the country’s best roasters. Also on the Most Popular Coffee Spot shortlist.
This award is as much for The Black Chapel’s erstwhile owner, Kiwi barista, Ant, as it is for The Black Chapel itself. Ant has an uncompromising passion for great coffee and I wish him well in his future ventures. The Black Chapel has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Outdoor Seating Awards.
I have immense respect for anyone who works in speciality coffee, and in particular for anyone who works outside, pulling excellent espresso shots, all year round in all weathers. One such person is Matt, who I first met in 2016 when he was in charge of the CanDo Coffee kiosk in Paddington. Now he’s running his own cart, The Lazy Coffee Cart, also shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.
I first came across Buzz Killer Espresso, the forerunner of Buzz Coffee Roaster & Baker in Chicago in 2016. Even then, the passion of the owners (I met the roaster, Tim, at the old branch, while I met Agnes, another of the owners, at the new branch) shone through everything they did. The new branch replaced the old one in 2017 when it turned out to be uneconomical to repair.
I have a soft spot for top-notch coffee shop in out of the way places, which is what got Discourse Coffee a spot on the shortlist for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award. However, Discourse, and its owner, Ryan, is much more than that. Rarely have I met anyone with more passion for great coffee, constantly playing with extractions and flavours, which won it a spot on the Best Espresso Award shortlist.
Italy may be known as the country that invented espresso (as told in my book, The Philosophy of Coffee), it’s not known as a hotbed of speciality coffee. So it takes someone pretty special to open a speciality coffee shop in Rome, particularly if you’re then going to stock 16 different coffees drawn from seven of the best roasters across Europe. So here’s to Faro, Luminari Del Caffè.
Staying in Rome, I was blown away by the passion of the staff at Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria, particularly when it came to pour-over, where my friend Amanda and I were treated to a real show. If only everyone did coffee like this! Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria was also shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
I’ve known Paul, the owner of Edinburgh‘s Lowdown Coffee, for almost as long as I’ve been doing the Coffee Spot. Throughout that time, I’ve been struck by his dedication to great coffee, and his new coffee shop, Lowdown Coffee, is no different, daring to do things differently. Lowdown Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Awards.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2018.
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