First up today, the 2019 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Koffee Mameya. Initially, this award was only open to retailers, but in 2014, I expanded it to include roasters, who now dominate the award. Contenders have either appeared in the Meet the Roaster series or they are cafe/roasters who I have visited during the year.
Although the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink the majority of my coffee at home (actually, with the amount of travelling I now do, I’m not so sure this is true…), so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention. The problem, as with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, by-and-large, to stick to either roasters I’ve written about as roasters or coffee shops where the beans are roasted on site.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 18 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Fourtillfour, with its award-winning outdoor patio in Scottsdale, Arizona, combines speciality coffee with the passion of the owners (Nico and Mia) for vintage cars. Since my first visit in February 2018, FourTillFour has started roasting its own coffee, installing the roaster in the side room off the main area with the counter. Fourtillfour uses a direct trade washed Honduran single-origin.
Staying in the Phoenix area, Peixoto Coffee Roasters in nearby Chandler takes direct trade to another level, the family owning a coffee farm in Brazil. Originally roasting in the coffee shop, the roaster has recently moved to a dedicated facility.
When I first visited Edinburgh‘s Fortitude in April 2014, it was a pioneering multi-roaster, operating out of a small coffee shop in York Place. The good news is that Fortitude is still there, the coffee shop as lovely as ever. However, in 2017, Fortitude started roasting all its own beans in an off-site roastery. Fortitude has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Happiest Staff Awards.
% Arabica’s flagship coffee shop/roastery in Shanghai is at the northern end of the Bund. It has an amazing setting on the ground floor of the Associate Mission Building, with floor-to-ceiling windows separated by tall, stone-faced pillars. Inside the roastery is at the far, right-hand end, separated from the coffee shop by a glass wall. % Arabica has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Coffee@33 has long been one of Brighton’s hidden gems, going strong since 2008. I first visited in 2013, but since then, Coffee@33 has had a makeover, which has included roasting all its own coffee, recently moving to using a new, modern Loring coffee roaster. Coffee@33 has also been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
San Francisco has a long tradition of combined coffee shop/roasters in glorious ex-industrial buildings, and Flywheel Coffee Roasters is no exception, good enough for a place on the Best Physical Space Award shortlist. Flywheel roasts all its coffee at the back of the store on a 15 kg Joper (a Portuguese roaster) and has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
I Will Kill Again is the interestingly-named coffee shop of Kiwi Death Metal Bikers and coffee roasters, Dark Arts Coffee, with the roastery on the right-hand side of the coffee shop, which is what sees it on this shortlist. Roasting only single-origins with names such as “Lost Highway”, Dark Arts is, shall we say, unique. I Will Kill Again has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Ngopi, based in city-centre Birmingham, deals exclusively in Indonesian single-origin coffees, with the aim of showcasing the great variety of coffee in the country. The green beans are imported and then roasted on a small (Indonesian manufactured) roaster in the front of the shop. Ngopi has also been shortlisted three other Awards: Best Espresso, Happiest Staff and Most Passionate About Coffee.
Ozone is a stalwart of London‘s Shoreditch coffee scene, having first opened on Leonard Street in 2012, where it still has its lovely coffee shop / restaurant upstairs, with the roastery sharing space in the basement (good enough for a Coffee Spot with the Best Basement shortlisting).
Little Wolf Coffee is a roastery and coffee shop in Ipswich, MA and I’m indebted to Bex (of Double Skinny Macchiato fame) for the heads up about it. A lovely, spacious coffee shop in its own right, with a separate seating area, plus the main counter, pride of place goes to the 12kg Probat coffee roaster at the back, which is in action on Monday and Wednesday each week.
Le Cafe Alain Ducasse, part of the Coal Drops Yard development in King’s Cross, hit the headlines earlier this year with a £15 cup of Yemeni coffee. A rarity in London, Le Cafe Alain Ducasse just sells coffee, either by the cup or by the bag, with all the coffee roasted in Paris. Le Cafe Alain Ducasse is also on the Most Passionate About Coffee shortlist.
From London to Japan (Nagano to be precise) and Hirano Coffee, a coffee shop/roastery in a traditional two-storey Japanese house, which is what gained it a place on the shortlist for the Best Physical Space Award. All the coffee is roasted on the 5kg Fuji Royal behind the counter, and there’s a choice of five single-origins and five blends, all available on pour-over using a traditional cloth filter or V60.
Wood St Coffee has been an ever-present in Walthamstow for almost as long as I’ve been doing the Coffee Spot. Now in its third incarnation at the Blackhorse Workshop, it has gone as far as to start roasting all its own coffee, originally using the roaster at Tate Coffee, but now with its own roaster located in a small container in front of the coffee shop.
I’ve had some truly outstanding coffee in Japan and particularly in Tokyo, where some of the best has been from Glitch Coffee & Roasters, a wonderful coffee shop / roastery in Jimbōchō. All the coffee is roasted on a 5kg Probat which shares space with the seating at the end of the small coffee shop. Glitch Coffee & Roasters has also been shortlisted for Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award
Chromatic Coffee is one of my favourite roasters in the Bay Area and this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to the Chromatic Coffee roastery (conveniently located a few blocks from my friend’s house), where I attended a public cupping. If you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to go since they are a great way to learn about coffee. Chromatic Coffee also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Back in Tokyo, this time in Shibuya, where 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. There’s a separate roastery space at the back of the ground floor, but the roaster itself stands at the end of the counter! Little Nap has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.
Staying in Tokyo, another favourite roaster is Onibus Coffee, which has several shops around the city, one of which (Ratio &C) is a regular haunt of mine. The roastery used to be in the Nakameguro location, but recently it moved to Yakumo, where it is co-located with a delightful coffee shop. I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the new roastery on my last trip to Japan.
The final entry is also the longest serving roaster of them all, HR Higgns, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. It used to roast in the basement (now the HR Higgins Coffee Room), but these days there’s a dedicated facility in Waltham Abbey. However, the shop on Duke Street still serves as an old fashioned coffee and tea merchants and is well worth a visit!
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2019.
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