Welcome to the final 2019 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2018 by Siop Shop. Despite what it says on the tag line, the Coffee Spot’s not all about the coffee. After all, 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.
This is another of my favourite Awards and while I didn’t visit that many dedicated cake spots, I was nonetheless treated to some absolutely fantastic cake along the way, proving that, like good coffee, the more you look, the more good cake you find.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Goldstone Villas in Hove was the long-time home of the Small Batch roastery before it moved out into a dedicated facility in September 2017. The resulting remodelling has effectively led to there being two coffee shops in one, a conventional coffee shop on one side, with the old roastery converted into the Workspace, designed to attract remote workers. However, it was my fabulous raspberry doughnut which got Small Batch on the shortlist.
I finally visited Atkinsons, albeit the new location in Mackie Mayor, a restored Victoria Market in Manchester. It’s a lovely setting, made all the better for the presence of the working 100-year-old Uno roaster in the corner! However, it was the almondi cake, which was like a small, cylindrical meringue, which got Atkinsons a place of this shortlist. Atkinsons has also made it onto the Best Flat White and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award shortlists.
The Point, in the ancient Water Town of Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, is a wonderful coffee shop/roaster with a gorgeous terrace at the back, overlooking the Dianpu River. Amongst its many charms is the wonderful selection of (western-style) cakes, including the rich, crumbly, New York style cheesecake that I had. The Point has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
Staying in Shanghai, Rumors Coffee Roasters, Xingguo Road draws its inspiration from the traditional Japanese kissaten. Founded by a Sino-Japanese couple, it’s in some ways a trend-setter, opening long before the likes of % Arabica moved into the area. As well as a wide range of coffee, I was also taken the cakes, particularly enjoying my light chocolate mousse.
B2 Coffee occupies a small corner in the communal hall of the San Pedro Square Market in downtown San Jose. One of the area’s speciality coffee pioneers, it also serves a mean selection of cakes and pastries. I enjoyed both the cherry turnover from my first visit and the Monkey Bread I had on my return. B2 Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
Heading slightly west from San Jose to Santa Clara, Chromatic Coffee is part of a small outdoor mall. Along with some excellent coffee, all roasted in-house, there’s craft beer, while if you’re hungry, Chromatic has a toast-based brunch menu, grab-and-go salads and a large selection of cakes and pastries. It was the rich, sweet and slightly sticky Kouign Ammon, (served warm) which won Chromatic Coffee a place on the shortlist though.
Chicago’s Doughnut Vault has two locations. This is the original, a tiny spot (winning it a spot on the Smallest Coffee Spot shortlist) which sells doughnuts, baked in the downstairs kitchen. And what doughnuts! Amanda and I bought a box on our first visit and they were all good enough to get Doughnut Vault on the shortlist. Doughnut Vault also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement Award.
Scandinavian Embassy in is something of an Amsterdam coffee legend and while the coffee is excellent (good enough for Scandinavian Embassy to have been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award), what won it a place on today’s shortlist was the freshly-baked cinnamon bun I had, straight out of the oven. Scandinavian Embassy is also shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.
The third doughnut-related entry on the shortlist is Prague’s Donut Shop. It has some excellent coffee, with a single guest roaster on espresso and batch brew. However, it made its name through its doughnuts and the Boston Rhubarb, a classic sugared doughnut with a Boston cream filling, complete with chunks of rhubarb, was the best I’ve had this year. The Donut Shop has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Over the years, Edinburgh‘s Brew Lab has been a favourite of mine, so naturally I wondered what impact, if any, there would be when Union Hand-roasted took over last year. I needn’t have worried, since it was just as wonderful when I popped back to check. I was particularly taken with the pepito, a long, rectangular pastry with a custard filling and chocolate chips. It was every bit as delicious as it sounded!
The second Second Shot (after the original in Bethnal Green) was only just getting going when I visited, a few weeks after it opened. Like the original, this is a social enterprise, dedicated to helping the homeless through a variety of means. Even though it had only been open a few weeks, I had a lovely raspberry muffin. Second Shot has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
Staying in London, HR Higgins celebrated its 75th anniversary this year as a coffee and tea merchant. The basement coffee room is a slightly more recent addition (which won HR Higgins a place on the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement shortlist) while its gorgeous individual Bakewell Tart earned it a place here.
Filter, one of Cork’s speciality coffee pioneers, is a very homely place, with an eclectic mix of styles, kitted out almost entirely with bespoke furniture made from reclaimed wood, no single piece quite matching any other. The coffee is excellent, as are the cakes, the excellent wholemeal scone (with jam and butter) going down a treat. Filter has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award and the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award Award.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Dublin’s Coffeeangel and TCD (Trinity College Dublin) is no exception. I loved everything about it, especially the custard tart, which was excellent, with a rich, creamy custard filling and a flaky pastry case.
The final entry is Onibus Coffee in Yakumo, Tokyo, co-located with the new roastery. A beautiful spot, with the usual range of excellent Onibus coffee, I’ve singled out the cakes, all baked at Onibus’ original store in Okusawa. I enjoyed a pair of hexagonal cookies, one shortbread-like, while the other, just as tasty, resembled a British gingernut, albeit a cranberry flavoured one. Onibus Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2019.
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