2019 Awards – Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot

The Craving Coffee logo, from the wall of the coffee shop in Tottenham.The first shortlist for the 2019 Coffee Spot Awards is the “Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot” Award, won in 2018 by Craving Coffee. Finding Coffee Spots in cities such as New York, Edinburgh or Manchester is to be expected. However, good Coffee Spots are everywhere, some of them are in very unexpected places, both geographically and in terms of setting.

This Award is very much defined by the nominees on the shortlist. Some of these are geographical, a reward for bringing great coffee to unexpected places. Others are a recognition of a great or unusual setting for a Coffee Spot.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Liar Liar in the market town of Oswestry on the England/Wales border.
  • Stan's Bike Shack, accessible by bike/on foot in the Sussex countryside.
  • Kream | Coffee, a multi-roaster coffee shop inside a design shop in Phoenix.
  • Rag & Bone Coffee at Sharps, a (still) rare example of speciality coffee in a barber shop.
  • Host Cafe, in the nave of St Mary Aldermary in the City of London.
  • The Point, overlooking the river in the ancient Water Town of Zhujiajiao, Shanghai.
  • Congregation Coffee Roasters, an unexpected find across the Mississippi in New Orleans.
  • G & B Coffee, inside the historic Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.
  • Canary Coffee, an unexpected bonus, attached to my hotel in Canary Wharf!
  • Pavilion Cafe, on the lakeside in Victoria Park, Bethnal Green.
  • Willa Jean, top-notch espresso and pour-over in an American diner in New Orleans.
  • Higashide Coffee, an unexpected find in Kanazawa on my recent Japanese trip.
  • % Arabica, Arashiyama, in an amazing location overlooking the Katsura River in Kyoto.
  • Dark Arts Coffee Japan, an unexpected outpost of East London roasters in Hayama.
  • First Draft Coffee & Wine, tucked away in amongst the terrace houses of south Dublin.
  • Staying in Dublin, Indigo & Cloth is a speciality coffee shop inside a clothing store.
  • The Hideout, a speciality coffee shop on the University of Surrey Campus in Guildford.
  • Coffee Curiosity, an oasis of calm minutes from the bustle of Canterbury city centre.
Liar Liar in the market town of Oswestry on the England/Wales border.1 Stan's Bike Shack, accessible by bike/on foot in the Sussex countryside.2 Kream | Coffee, a multi-roaster coffee shop inside a design shop in Phoenix.3 Rag & Bone Coffee at Sharps, a (still) rare example of speciality coffee in a barber shop.4 Host Cafe, in the nave of St Mary Aldermary in the City of London.5 The Point, overlooking the river in the ancient Water Town of Zhujiajiao, Shanghai.6 Congregation Coffee Roasters, an unexpected find across the Mississippi in New Orleans.7 G & B Coffee, inside the historic Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles.8 Canary Coffee, an unexpected bonus, attached to my hotel in Canary Wharf!9 Pavilion Cafe, on the lakeside in Victoria Park, Bethnal Green.10 Willa Jean, top-notch espresso and pour-over in an American diner in New Orleans.11 Higashide Coffee, an unexpected find in Kanazawa on my recent Japanese trip.12 % Arabica, Arashiyama, in an amazing location overlooking the Katsura River in Kyoto. 13 Dark Arts Coffee Japan, an unexpected outpost of East London roasters in Hayama.14 First Draft Coffee & Wine, tucked away in amongst the terrace houses of south Dublin.15 Staying in Dublin, Indigo & Cloth is a speciality coffee shop inside a clothing store.16 The Hideout, a speciality coffee shop on the University of Surrey Campus in Guildford.17 Coffee Curiosity, an oasis of calm minutes from the bustle of Canterbury city centre.18
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There are 18 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Liar, Liar in Oswestry.Liar Liar

Liar Liar, in the market town of Oswestry, is not really somewhere I’d associate with speciality coffee. It’s certainly not somewhere I’d expect to find an outstanding coffee shop that would grace any city in the world! Liar Liar has been shortlisted for three other Awards: Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot, Best Breakfast & Most Popular Coffee Spot.

The logo from the sign outside of Stan's Bike Shed in West Sussex.Stan’s Bike Shack

Stan’s Bike Shack is on the long-distance cycle-path, the Downs Link, between the villages of Partridge Green and Bines Green in West Sussex. A real walkers’ / cyclists’ coffee shop, it’s not accessible by car (although there is parking relatively nearby). Stan’s Bike Shack has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff and Best Breakfast Awards.

My espresso at Kream Coffee in Phoenix, from my visit in 2018. It was served in a gorgeous, earthenware cup with little plugs for handles on the sides.Kream | Coffee

Phoenix, in Arizona, has a rich and growing speciality coffee scene, so finding a great multi-roaster coffee shop there is not that unexpected. What got Kream | Coffee a place of the list is that it’s in a design shop, the coffee shop’s seating effortlessly blending into the display at the front of the store. Kream has also been shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

The menu board from Rag & Bone Coffee at Sharps Coffee Bar in London.Rag & Bone Coffee at Sharps

Staying with the idea of speciality coffee shops inside other shops, Rag & Bone Coffee is a (still) rare example of a speciality coffee shop inside a barbershop (although Sharps has had a speciality shop on site in Windmill Street since 2012). Rag & Bone was the latest incarnation, taking over in February, although since my visit, the operation has passed onto Good as Gold.

A lovely flat white made with the Up Hill espresso blend from Mission Coffee Works at Host Cafe in St Mary Aldermary Church, LondonHost Café

Speaking of coffee shops inside other establishments, how about a coffee shop inside a church? Like Sharps, Host Café has been going since 2012, occupying the back of the nave of St Mary Aldermary in the City of London, a truly awe-inspiring setting for a coffee shop, good enough to win it a place on the shortlist for the Best Physical Space Award.

My coffee, overlooking the five stone arches of Fangsheng Bridge in Zhujiajiao from the back terrace of The Point.The Point

I went to the ancient Water Town of Zhujiajiao, on Shanghai’s western outskirts, purely as a tourist, not expecting to find any great coffee. However, I found quite a few decent coffee shops, including The Point, a wonderful coffee shop/roaster with a gorgeous terrace at the back, overlooking the Dianpu River, just west of the famous Fangsheng Bridge. The Point has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating and Best Cake Awards.

A mug of the Gelana Abaya Ethiopian single-origin batch-brew in an alligator mug at Congregation Coffee Roasters in Algiers Point, New Orleans.Congregation Coffee Roasters

Staying with the theme of rivers, I discovered Congregation Coffee Roasters on my most recent trip to New Orleans. It’s out at Algiers Point, just a short ride on the Canal Street Ferry from the heart of downtown New Orleans. A coffee shop and roaster, serving some excellent coffee, all roasted on-site in a lovely old building, it’s definitely worth the trip. Congregation Coffe Roasters is also on the  Most Passionate About Coffee Award shortlist.

The G & B Coffee sign, hanging high above the rear of Los Angeles Central Market.G & B Coffee

Staying in the US, the historic Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles is home to G & B Coffee (short for Glanville and Babinski Coffee, after founders Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski). I wish more markets had amazing coffee shops like this. G & B Coffee occupies an island counter at the top end of the market, providing a couple of options on espresso and filter, all roasted in-house.

The Canary Coffee sign, from outside of the Novotel on Marsh Wall, London.Canary Coffee

I often pick my hotels on the basis of nearby coffee shops, but it’s still rare to find speciality coffee shops inside hotels. Canary Coffee was, therefore, an unexpected surprise when I arrived at the Novotel in Canary Wharf, particularly as I had no idea it was there! Serving Climpson and Sons on espresso, it’s a lovely coffee shop in its own right. Canary Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.

The word CAFE in white on the side wall of the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park, glass dome soaring above.Pavilion Café

Staying in London, Pavilion Café is an old hand when it comes to speciality coffee, serving great coffee and food from a circular, glass-domed pavilion (hence the name) on the eastern side of the West Lake in Bethnal Green’s Victoria Park. Nevertheless, speciality coffee in settings such as parks are still rare, which got Pavilon Café its spot on the shortlist. Pavilon Café has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.

The Willa Jean logo, taken from the coffee menu.Willa Jean

Back to America and Willa Jean is a brunch spot, restaurant and bakery in New Orleans’ Central Business District. On top of all that, it also serves some excellent coffee from Chicago’s Intelligentsia, with options on espresso and batch-brew, plus a pair of single-origin pour-overs through the V60. A rare example of speciality coffee done well in a restaurant setting.

The sign which hangs outside Higashide Coffee in Kanazawa.Higashide Coffee

The first of three entries from Japan, all from the first of my two trips this year, Higashide Coffee is in Kanazawa, where I unexpectedly found some excellent coffee. I say unexpectedly, since I wasn’t really looking, but I struck it lucky with my hotel, with several great coffee shops all within a few minutes’ walk. Higashide is a traditional Japanese kissaten, roasting all the coffee on an old Fuji Royal in the window.

The latte art in my Therma Cup at % Arabica, Arashiyama.% Arabica, Arashiyama

Moving on to Kyoto, this is one of three % Arabica locations in the city, with an amazing setting on the banks of the Katsura River to the northwest of the city. It’s a very popular tourist area and not somewhere I would immediately associate with speciality coffee, but there it is, overlooking the river and the mountains beyond. % Arabica is also on the shortlist for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

The familiar Dark Arts Coffee logo, but in Hayama rather than Hackney.Dark Arts Coffee Japan

The third of three entries from Japan, Dark Arts is an offshoot of Hackney’s Dark Arts Coffee, itself worthy of an entry on this shortlist. However, rather than being in one of Japan’s speciality coffee centres, such as Kyoto or Tokyo, you’ll find it in the small town of Hayama, on the Kanagawa prefecture. Dark Arts has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Breakfast Awards.

A lovely flat white in a class white cup on a black saucer, made with an El Mirador single-origin from Guatemala, roasted by Roasted Brown and served at First Draft Coffee & Wine in Dublin.

First Draft Coffee & Wine

Wandering the quiet, residential streets of Portobello, just to the south of Dublin city centre, I was beginning to think that I was in the wrong place, but there it was, First Draft Coffee & Wine, unexpected both for its location, and for the large selection of wine available, still unusual in terms of speciality coffee in the UK and Ireland. First Draft is also on the shortlists for this year’s Best Flat White and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Awards.

Detail from the doormat leading into Indigo & Cloth, a menswear & lifestyle shop with an in-house coffee shop in Dublin.Indigo & Cloth

Staying Dublin, Indigo & Cloth offers a offered a blend of international and local menswear, lifestyle and design products, plus, since 2014, a speciality coffee shop. Following similar principles, the coffee shop blends local and international roasters, with Belfast’s Bailies Coffee Roasters providing a house-blend and two single-origins on filter, joined by two seasonal guest roasters, with a single-origin on espresso and two more on filter.

Details taken from the menu board at The Hideout, where it proudly claims "No Takeaway Cups".The Hideout

The Hideout is the latest addition to the University of Surrey’s Stag Hill campus, an unexpected bonus given that it’s about a 45-minute walk from my house. Serving Union Hand-roasted on espresso and with the bold move of refusing to use disposable takeaway cups from the get-go, the Hideout is unexpected in more ways than one! The Hideout has also been shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

Details from the coffee menu at Canterbury's Coffee Curiosity.Coffee Curiosity

The curious thing about Coffee Curiosity is its location. A short walk from Canterbury’s bustling medieval centre, this is an oasis of calm, located in Tannery Wharf, which backs onto the Great Stour on the southern side of Tannery Square, part of a modern housing development tucked into the western end of Canterbury’s medieval city centre. Coffee Curiosity is also on the Most Passionate About Coffee and Best Outdoor Seating shortlists.


And the winner is The Hideout
Runners-up: Canary Coffee and Stan’s Bike Shack

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2019.


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9 thoughts on “2019 Awards – Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot

  1. Pingback: Coffee Spot Awards 2019 | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: 2019 Awards – Best Takeaway Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Thanks for the list! As for mine, I don’t know how unlikely these are but they are the small spots that stuck with me this year. One is hummingbird.amsterdam, a delightful little cafe that serves seriously great coffee with a couple of lazy ridgebacks lounging in the corner. The other is Coffeewerk+Press in Galway, Ireland. It’s a coffee/design shop on one of the main pedestrian malls, with a cozy area upstairs where you can sip your Sumatran and spin vinyl. Great spot.

  4. Pingback: 2019 Awards – Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting | Brian's Coffee Spot

  5. Pingback: 2019 Awards – Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

  6. Pingback: 2019 Awards – Happiest Staff | Brian's Coffee Spot

  7. Pingback: The Hideout | Brian's Coffee Spot

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  9. Pingback: Stan’s Bike Shack | Brian's Coffee Spot

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