Merry Christmas to all my readers old and new! I hope you’re having a great Christmas. As 2019 winds towards its end, it’s once again time for the Coffee Spot Awards, now into their EIGHTH year! It seems only yesterday that my friend Andrew Rilstone suggested the first Coffee Spot Awards. If only I’d have known what I was unleashing back then…
2019 has been another busy year, with plenty of travel, including one almost-around-the-world trip, visiting Coffee Spots across the northern hemisphere (sadly I’ve yet to make it to Australia, but I’m working on it). The annual Coffee Spot Awards provides a chance for me to reflect on all the great places I’ve visited and to give them all some more well-deserved time in the limelight. As usual, there are 20 Awards, the shortlists for each being publishing between now and New Year’s Eve, with the winners being announced on New Year’s Day.
Thanks to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page, and looked at my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.
Before we go on, check out who won what in last year’s Awards in the gallery.
An elite panel of judges (me) gathered in a secret location (my Dad’s house) to spend literally minutes considering the following awards. However, before I introduce the awards, a few statistics for 2019.
I published 210 articles (up from 207 last year) on the Coffee Spot (not including this one!). This included (last year’s numbers in brackets):
- 116 Coffee Spots (119)
- 9 Coffee Spot Updates (3)
- 37 Saturday Shorts (35)
- 5 Saturday Spots (0)
- 5 Meet the Roasters (1)
- 2 Coffee Spot Guides (7)
- 10 Brian’s Travel Spots (16)
- 4 Travels with my Coffee (1)
- 22 Saturday Supplements (25)
This year I published Coffee Spots from eight countries (down one from nine last year), adding Prague in Czechia to the list for the first time. Most of my travel was for work, which saw me returning to familiar places such as Phoenix and Chicago in the US, plus Shanghai in China and Tokyo in Japan. However, I did add some new cities to the list, including Kanazawa and Nagano during the first of two trips around Japan, while I was back in Ireland, venturing south to Cork and Waterford for the first time.
As I write, the Coffee Spot has over 100,000 views this year, down from 140,000 in 2018. This is an average of 285 per day and over 62,000 of you have visited the Coffee Spot (down from 80,000 last year) from 154 countries, with almost 70% of you coming from the UK and 10% from the USA.
Anyway, enough of the numbers. Without further ado, let’s see what the award categories are this year. Don’t forget that as the shortlists for each Award are published between now and New Year’s Eve, you will be able to click on the Award title to see who is in the running.
Let’s face it, go to big cities such as New York, Edinburgh or Manchester and you expect to find good Coffee Spots. However, good Coffee Spots are everywhere, and some of them are in very unexpected places… This can either be geographically or a result of the Coffee Spot’s setting. Either way, this award recognises them.
Takeaway coffee is tricky. Often the elements are against you and the surroundings might not be the nicest, so this award recognises those Coffee Spots who produce outstanding coffee against the odds.
Regular readers with know that I have a soft spot for Coffee Spots with great basements, and this award recognises them. A good basement can be a real boon, particularly in the winter months, where there’s nowhere better to wrap up warm and cosy!
A lot of the best Coffee Spots are those that are firmly rooted in their neighbourhoods, places that serve and reflect their local communities. This award is for them.
Regular readers will also be aware that I also have a soft spot for coffee shop lighting, so this award ensure that those Coffee Shops with wonderful lighting are properly recognised.
Writing the Coffee Spot has revolutionised the way I think of (and drink) filter coffee, introducing me to an amazing, delicate drink and opening my eyes to a whole new world of coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which have helped me on my journey.
When you’re desperate for good coffee, stuck in a railway station is rarely the best place to be. But what if there was a great Coffee Spot in the station, or just outside and you didn’t know about it? This award is for you…
The Saturday Supplement is the place where I write about coffee, coffee kit and events without writing about specific places. This award recognises the best of them (note that Saturday Supplements where it’s just me writing about stuff aren’t included; this award is for the things I am writing about, not me!).
This award focuses on those Coffee Spots which provide the best environment for sitting outside. The Coffee Spot itself doesn’t have to be outside; anything with a decent outside seating area qualifies!
Espresso is tricky. While my Sage Barista Express means I can now pull a reliable shot at home, I still admire those who can knock out shot after shot of high-quality espresso. This award is for those Coffee Spots which served me the best and most memorable espressos of the year.
I have a special place in my heart for small coffee spots and this year the Coffee Spot continued to be full of them. Note that this is all subjective – I did not get my tape measure out at any point!
It’s not all about the coffee you know (despite what the tag line says). 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.
While the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink a lot of coffee at home. This award recognises those wonderful who roast and sell me my coffee beans.
Best Flat White (New Award for 2019)
This is a new Award for 2019, replacing the old Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award, which felt a little dated given all the travelling I now do. In both 2018 and 2019, less than half the Coffee Spots I’ve posted have been from the UK!
For me, a Coffee Spot is as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel as it is about the coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in.
I think that 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.
Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart, so-much-so that I started the Saturday Spot so that I could write about Coffee Spots where the coffee wasn’t up to much, but where the breakfasts were to die for! Of course, there are also plenty of places where both the coffee and the breakfasts are to die for!
It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. In fact, everyone who has been covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.
This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love…
Finally, this is the only award not decided by me. It’s given to the Coffee Spot which received the greatest number of views (according to JetPack) in this calendar year. Since the Awards are meant to recognise what’s happened on the Coffee Spot this year, I’ve decided to exclude Coffee Spots published in previous years.
And that’s it! All the shortlists have been published. Make sure you check back on New Year’s Day to see who has won!
Before you go, if you appreciate the Coffee Spot and what I do, then please consider voting for me in this year’s Sprudgie Awards. I’ve been nominated in the Best Coffee Writing category and while that in itself is a great honour, it would be fabulous if the Coffee Spot could win!
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