2019 Awards – Smallest Coffee Spot

My espresso from Melbourne in Lichfield, Bolt Court: Genesis, a single-origin Costa Rican, roasted by Union.Coffee Spots come in all shapes and sizes, but for some reason I have a real soft spot for small Coffee Spots. Last year the “Smallest Coffee Spot” Award was won by Melbourne in Lichfield, Bolt Court.

This year I have once again been blessed by some very small Coffee Spots serving some very fine coffee. As in previous years, this Award is entirely subjective: no Coffee Spots were measured during the judging process! This is one of several Awards that I could have filled many times over: the world seems full of lots of really lovely, small, Coffee Spots.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Story Works, a lovely little spot opposite Clapham Junction station.
  • Manner Coffee, Fengxian Road: bigger than the original, but still tiny.
  • BLUEKING Coffee, Nanyang Road. To think, it used to be a roastery as well!
  • Ritual Coffee Roasters, Hayes Valley, the first of two container-based coffee shops.
  • Doughnut Vault, Franklin Street, a tiny spot dispensing awesome doughnuts.
  • Obscure Coffee, a small front room and an even smaller, cosier room at the back.
  • Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel, another tiny space that's almost all counter.
  • Second Shot, Bethnal Green. The original location is small and perfectly formed.
  • Knockbox Coffee, a veteran of London's speciality coffee scene.
  • Donut Shop, a slightly larger spot dispensing awesome doughnuts and great coffee.
  • Alex Coffee, a newcomer to Fitzrovia in a space no sane person would consider for a cafe!
  • Espressino, carrying on where The Black Chapel left off.
  • Coffee Addict, another tiny space in London, this time by Victoria Station.
  • Long & Short Coffee, Walthamstow, the second container-based coffee shop.
  • Party at Moorgate, partying in the smallest space imaginable.
  • Arch Coffee, Peter's Street: bigger than the original, but still tiny.
  • Unlimited Coffee Bar, a masterpiece of fitting lots into a small space.
  • Stockholm Roast, a kiosk with an impressive range of coffee and a couple of seats inside.
Story Works, a lovely little spot opposite Clapham Junction station.1 Manner Coffee, Fengxian Road: bigger than the original, but still tiny.2 BLUEKING Coffee, Nanyang Road. To think, it used to be a roastery as well!3 Ritual Coffee Roasters, Hayes Valley, the first of two container-based coffee shops.4 Doughnut Vault, Franklin Street, a tiny spot dispensing awesome doughnuts.5 Obscure Coffee, a small front room and an even smaller, cosier room at the back.6 Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel, another tiny space that's almost all counter.7 Second Shot, Bethnal Green. The original location is small and perfectly formed.8 Knockbox Coffee, a veteran of London's speciality coffee scene.9 Donut Shop, a slightly larger spot dispensing awesome doughnuts and great coffee.10 Alex Coffee, a newcomer to Fitzrovia in a space no sane person would consider for a cafe!11 Espressino, carrying on where The Black Chapel left off.12 Coffee Addict, another tiny space in London, this time by Victoria Station.13 Long & Short Coffee, Walthamstow, the second container-based coffee shop.14 Party at Moorgate, partying in the smallest space imaginable.15 Arch Coffee, Peter's Street: bigger than the original, but still tiny.16 Unlimited Coffee Bar, a masterpiece of fitting lots into a small space.17 Stockholm Roast, a kiosk with an impressive range of coffee and a couple of seats inside.18
Photo Carousel by WOWSlider.com v4.6

There are 18 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The sign says it all: "Story Works", from the wall of Story Works by Clapham Junction.Story Works

Story Works is a relatively new addition to London‘s speciality coffee scene, opposite the entrance to Clapham Junction station. It primarily caters to takeaway customers (which won it a spot on the shortlist for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award), although it’s for its small size. Despite this there’s a small amount of seating for those who want to sit in. There’s a single option on espresso  plus batch brew if you are in a hurry.

My V60, of a washed Yunnan coffee, grown in China, and roasted and served by Manner Coffee, Shanghai.Manner Coffee, Fengxian Road

The second location for the Shanghai coffee shop/roaster chain is bigger than the original (which is no more than a hole-in-the-wall), but nonetheless is still pretty small, with no seating. The small size doesn’t stop it from offering an impressive array of coffee, with a blend on espresso and up to seven single-origins on pour-over through the V60. Manner also been shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

A single espresso made with the house-blend at BLUEKING Coffee on Nanyang Road, Shanghai.BLUEKING Coffee, Nanyang Road

Staying in Shanghai, BLUEKING Coffee on Nanyang Road is another tiny spot, which, when it started, was both coffee shop and roastery in an infeasible small space! These days the roaster has moved out to a dedicated facility, leaving a tiny coffee shop behind, with space for three stools at the counter and another three at the window-bar which runs the full width of the store.

The Ritual Coffee logo in the window of the Hayes Valley branch.Ritual Coffee Roasters, Hayes Valley

Crossing the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco, Ritual Coffee Roasters is a pioneer of the city’s speciality coffee scene. The Hayes Valley location is in a shipping container, where the lack of space doesn’t stop it offering a full coffee service: house-blend, single-origin, decaf on espresso, three single-origins on pour-over and another on batch-brew, all served in proper cups! Ritual is also shortlisted for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.

A lovely glazed doughnut from the Doughnut Vault on Franklin Street, Chicago.Doughnut Vault, Franklin Street

Chicago’s Doughnut Vault has two locations. This is the original, which sells the doughnuts, baked in the downstairs kitchen. While there is coffee on hand, you’d be better off going to the Canal Street location if that’s what you’re after. The tiny space allows enough room for the counter at one end and a standing bar at the other. Doughnut Vault has also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement and Best Cake Awards.

Climpson and Sons signature Estate Espresso in a lovely yellow cup at Obscure Coffee, Chester.Obscure Coffee

Obscure Coffee is a relatively new addition to Chester’s speciality coffee scene. It’s a pretty small spot, with space inside for a window bar and table, plus a really cosy back room with more tables and a pair of armchairs. The coffee is from Climpson and Sons, with options on espresso, pour-over and batch-brew. If you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes and pastries. Obscure Coffee is also on the shortlist for the Happiest Staff Award.

A lovely flat white in my HuskeeCup, made with the house blend espresso at Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel.Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel

Mouse Tail Coffee Stories occupies a tiny spot on London‘s Whitechapel Road. One of the area’s early speciality coffee pioneers, it offers a concise espresso-based menu using Mouse Tail’s seasonal house-blend and decaf from roasting arm, Mission Coffee Works. Although there is limited seating inside and out, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own. Mouse Tail has also been shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

My Peruvian single-origin espresso from Cast Iron Roasters, served in a gorgeous, handleless blue cup at Second Shot in Bethnal Green.Second Shot, Bethnal Green

Staying in London, Second Shot in Bethnal Green is a social enterprise, helping homeless people. It’s also a lovely little coffee shop in its own right which is up there with some of the best in London, offering a different roaster on espresso and filter, along with a small brunch menu and cake selection. Second Shot has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award and the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.

A single-origin Colombian espresso from Workshop in a classic white cup at Knockbox Coffee.Knockbox Coffee

Knockbox Coffee is one of the stalwarts of London‘s speciality coffee scene, a lovely little spot on Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury. The coffee is from local roasters, Workshop, with its seasonal single-origin espresso forming the bedrock of the simple coffee menu. There’s a wide array of teas and smoothies, plus a wide selection of cakes and toasties. Knockbox Coffee also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.

A glorious Boston Rhubarb doughtnut from the Donut ShopDonut Shop

The second doughnut-related entry on this year’s shortlist, the Donut Shop in Prague is slightly bigger than Chicago’s Doughnut Vault, but not by much. It does have indoor seating though, plus there are tables outside. Meanwhile, the coffee is excellent, the Donut Shop offering a single guest roaster on espresso and batch brew. The doughnuts are also excellent, good enough to make the Best Cake shortlist.

The single-origin Brazilian espresso from Red Bank Coffee served in an over-sized, classic white cup at Alex Coffee.Alex Coffee

Back in London, Alex Coffee is in Fitzrovia, occupying a tiny spot that few (sane) people would have ever considered for a coffee shop. There’s just enough room for a door and a window opening onto a simple interior, counter at the back and seating from two small stools. Indeed, there’s more seating at the four-person table outside. Alex Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.

Some lovely latte art in my flat white at Espressino, the latest addition to the Doctor Espresso stable.Espressino

Espressino is the fourth in the Doctor Espresso Stable as well as the successor to The Black Chapel, Doctor Espresso having bought the business from previous owner, the legendary Ant. The space is as tiny as ever, although there is now seating inside, with more outside on Chapel Yard. Despite the size, there’s a small breakfast/lunch menu.

Coffee Addict on Vauxhall Bridge Road, occupying the site of the original Costa Coffee, which opened in 1978 (Coffee Addict, in contrast, opened in 2019)Coffee Addict

Coffee Addict is just around the corner from London‘s Victoria Station. A recent addition to the area’s rapidly expanding coffee scene, it’s a small, but striking space, with beautiful, flower-decked walls. There’s just enough space inside for a pair of tables and a bar against the wall. Coffee Addict is also on three other shortlists: Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station, Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting and Most Passionate About Coffee.

Part of the amazing mural on the wall of Long & Short Coffee in Walthamstow, showing a bird's head.Long & Short Coffee, Walthamstow

Staying in London, but moving to Walthamstow, Long & Short Coffee had only been open a few weeks when I visited this summer. The second location for the coffee shop/roaster, it’s part of Crate, Walthamstow’s answer to the Box Park, occupying a single contain at the end of a row. Long & Short Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.

A lovely piccolo, made with the Captain Blend and served in a glass at Party at Moorgate.Party at Moorgate

Party at Moorgate is the second London coffee shop from Winchester-based, coffee-roasting Aussies, The Roasting Party. It’s a tiny space, located on the corner of Moorgate and London Wall. The only seating’s an L-shaped padded bench with two small, round tables, although to The Roasting Party’s credit, there are plenty of power outlets, which includes USB sockets. Party at Moorgate also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.

The Arch Coffee logo, taken from the door of Waterford's Arch Coffee on Peter's Street.Arch Coffee, Peter’s Street

Moving to Ireland, Arch Coffee has two locations in Waterford. This is the second one, and despite the fact that it’s tiny, it’s way bigger than the original! The only seating inside is a four-person bar, most of the space being given over to retail shelves and the counter, although there is seating outside. Arch Coffee stocks Dublin’s 3FE, with multiple single-origins for sale in retail bags.

Detail taken from a bag of coffee from Tokyo's Unlimited Coffee Roasters.Unlimited Coffee Bar

Moving over to Japan for the first of two entries from Tokyo, Unlimited Coffee Bar is the coffee shop belonging to Unlimited Coffee Roasters. Standing in the shadow of the 643m tall Skytree, it’s a masterpiece of fitting lots into a small space, with perhaps the most seats I’ve seen per square metre of any coffee shop, all without making it feel too cramped. There’s also an impressive range of coffee and food.

A lovely espresso, served in a proper cup, which I had on the first day that Stockholm Roast in Tokyo re-opened as a standalone operation.Stockholm Roast

Returning to Tokyo, Stockholm Roast may only be a kiosk on the side of the road, but that doesn’t stop it from offering an impressive range of coffee. There are a pair of blends plus two or three single-origins, all available as pour-overs (plus one of the blends on espresso), all of which I tried during my two visits to Japan this year. Stockholm Roast has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Best Takeaway Coffee Awards.


A special mention needs to go to the following:

Stan’s Bike Shack, more than an shack in the Sussex countryside
Kream | Coffee, a small coffee shop inside a large shop
La Colombe, Gold Coast, the smallest La Colombe I’ve been to
Ultimo Coffee, Rittenhouse, a lovely, small spot in Philadelphia
Fortitude, another lovely, small spot, this time in Edinburgh
Seesaw IFC, a small coffee shop in a large underground shopping mall in Shanghai
Stoney Point, a previous contender under another name (Mr Wolfe)
Doughnut Vault, Canal Street, the other Doughnut Vault isn’t that much bigger
Workshop Coffee at The Pilgrm, a small coffee bar in a (slightly) larger hotel lobby.
Espresso Station, Moor Street Station, a small station coffee shop
Coffee Supreme, Tokyo, very thin, but very, very (very) long
Press Coffee, Victoria Market Hall, a coffee counter in a large market
Kafi, another small, cosy spot in London‘s Fitzrovia.
Blue Monday, a kiosk in an underground shopping mall in Kanazawa
Lost Sheep Coffee, another kiosk, this time by Canterbury’s bus station
Coffee Curiosity, a tiny spot in Canterbury, until you add upstairs and outside
Fortitude Bakehouse, a long, thin coffee shop in a much larger bakery
The Gentlemen Baristas Holborn, another small but perfect offering from Gentlemen Baristas


And the winner is Alex Coffee
Runners-up: Party at Moorgate and Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel

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


If you liked this post, please let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you have a WordPress account and you don’t mind everyone knowing that you liked this post, you can use the “Like this” button right at the bottom instead.


Don’t forget that you can share this post with your friends using the buttons below.

5 thoughts on “2019 Awards – Smallest Coffee Spot

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

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

  3. Pingback: Alex Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

  4. Pingback: Party At Moorgate | Brian's Coffee Spot

  5. Pingback: Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel | Brian's Coffee Spot

Please let me know what you think. Guidelines for comments are in the "Posts" drop-down menu.