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.
There are 18 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2019.
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