Next we have a new award for 2019, the “Best Flat White” Award. This replaces the old “Best Overseas Coffee Spot”, which was won in 2018 by Amsterdam’s Black Gold. When I set up the Award in 2013, I made two or three trips a year outside of the UK. In the last two years, I’ve spent less than half my time in the UK, which is reflected in my posts, with fewer than half of the Coffee Spots coming from the UK.
As a result, Overseas Coffee Spots don’t need a special award category of their own any more. Instead I’ve replaced it with the “Best Flat White” award, although technically this should be the “Best Piccolo, Cortado, Gibraltar, Cappuccino, Flat White or Latte” Award. Basically, any espresso-based drink with milk. So, without further ado, let’s get on with things!
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 18 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
My first speciality coffee experience in Phoenix was at Press Coffee in Scottsdale Quarter, so I was pleased, on my return at the start of the year, to find a new Press Coffee in the heart of Scottsdale Waterfront development where I had the Ethiopian Kochere Chelelektu, a washed coffee in the lovely cortado shown here. Press Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
Presta Coffee, Mercado San Augustin
Staying in Arizona, but moving south the Tucson we have Presta Coffee in the Mercado San Augustin where I had the 120PSI espresso blend. It was pretty decent on its own, but really stood out as a cortado, its complex, fruity notes coming clearly through the milk, yet at the same time being largely in harmony with it. Presta Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
The third cortado on the shortlist comes from Atkinsons in Mackie Mayor, a restored Victoria Market in Manchester. I had a Colombian Swiss Water process decaf cortado, which was very rich, smooth and well-balanced. Atkinsons has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Cake Award and the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
Edinburgh‘s Fortitude is a coffee shop turned roaster, whose coffee I’ve always enjoyed. In particular, I had an excellent flat white, made with a washed Colombian, it’s fruity nature coming strongly through the milk. Fortitude also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Roaster/Retailer and Happiest Staff Awards.
From Edinburgh to Shanghai, where % Arabica recently opened one of its iconic coffee bars in the Xintiandi Plaza shopping mall. I had a latte in my Therma Cup (% Arabica only offering disposable cups), made using the single-origin, a washed Ethiopian. The milk, by the way, held the latte art to the bottom of the cup, always a good sign. % Arabica has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
Back in the UK, Stoney Point, in Brighton has taken over where Mr Wolfe, its predecessor, left off. A lovely little spot, it serves up some excellent coffee and cake, with the piccolo, made with Monmouth’s organic espresso blend getting my attention. It had the perfect ratio of milk to coffee, allowing the fruity nature of the coffee to come nicely through the milk, with neither dominating.
Verve Coffee Roasters, Market Street
A perennial favourite, since I first discovered Verve in its hometown of Santa Cruz, this is Verve’s solitary San Francisco branch, where I had an excellent one-and-one (espresso + piccolo) using the Streetlevel blend. As an espresso, it was smooth and well-balanced, but it really shone in milk, combining to produce a rich, smooth, creamy drink.
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Paddington Central
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs in Paddington Central was conveniently located across the street from the office, so I over the week I was there, I tried pretty much the full range of coffee. I was particularly impressed by the Colombian El Cascabel decaf which I had as a piccolo. The Department of Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee 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, where I had an excellent piccolo. Made with the Captain blend, it was smooth and well-balanced, the milk holding the latte art all the way to the bottom of the glass. Party at Moorgate also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Blue Bottle Coffee, Shinagawa Station
Back in Tokyo, this is one of many Blue Bottle locations in the city, over Shinagawa Station, where I had several cappuccinos in my SoL Cup, which I was road-testing at the time. While I’m not a great fan of the Hayes Valley blend as a straight espresso, it goes superbly well in milk, and I had some excellent rich, smooth cappuccinos. Blue Bottle also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
65mm Coffee in Tonbridge began in the Old Fire Station, but now has its own place opposite the castle, where there’s some great coffee and awesome brunch options. I had an excellent flat white using the house espresso, a washed Colombian Caturra de Altura from the local Cast Iron Roasters, which went perfectly with the milk. 65mm Coffee is also on the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting and Best Breakfast shortlists.
In the quiet, residential streets of Portobello, Dublin, First Draft Coffee & Wine is very much part of the neighbour, serving coffee during the day and a wide selection of wine in the evening. I had an excellent flat white using an El Mirador from Guatemala, coffee and milk going extremely well together. First Draft has also been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
Back in Tokyo, Little Nap has made a name for itself with the Little Nap Coffee Stand and more recently, its roastery and coffee shop, spread over three floors of a long, narrow building about a 10 minute walk away. I had an excellent Gibraltar served in a glass jar. Made with the house blend, the milk and coffee combined to produce a biscuit-like flavour. Little Nap has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Staying in Tokyo, Fuglen, the Norwegian vintage design outfit turned coffee roaster, has a relatively new coffee shop in Asakusa, following on from its hugely successful Shibuya shop. I had a pair of very fine cappuccinos (a Colombian in 2018, this year a Brazilian). Fuglen has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.
This is the third Madcap Coffee in Grand Rapids, located inside the Downtown Market, where it has a semi-circular coffee bar. It has a spot on the shortlist thanks to my decaf cortado, which is the third decaf on the shortlist this year. Made with a Colombian single-origin decaf, it was a lovely, smooth, well-rounded coffee with some excellent latte art.
The Gentlemen Baristas Holborn
I admit that I am a sucker for great latte art, although I have tried to base the entries on this shortlist on taste. In the case of The Gentlemen Baristas in Holborn, I must confess my head was turned by the wonderful rabbit in my flat white. Fortunately, my coffee, made with the Top Hat (La Bastilla, a Nicaraguan single-origin) was smooth and sweet, the coffee and milk in perfect harmony.
This is the second Society Café in Bath, at the entrance of the Victoria Shopping Arcade, The Corridor. As well as the lovely basement (which won it a place on the shortlist for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award), Amanda had an excellent flat white made with a washed Nicaraguan Las Colinas from Origin, which struck a good balance between coffee and milk.
Fortitude Bakehouse opened last summer, tucked away in Bloomsbury. As the name suggests, it’s a bakery, but also a coffee shop, serving a single-origin from Has Bean. I had an Ethiopian Ana Sora, a naturally-processed coffee, in a 6oz with milk. Served in a glass, the coffee and milk went really well together, producing a sweet, well-balanced drink, but with fruity rather than classic chocolate notes.
And the winner is First Draft Coffee & Wine
Runners-up: Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor and Fortitude
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2019.
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