2019 Awards – Happiest Staff

Part of the upstairs seating at the Heart & Graft Coffee Shop in Salford.I present the final shortlist of the day, which is for another of my favourite Coffee Spot Awards, that of “Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff”. Last year it was won by Heart & Graft Coffee Shop. In my opinion, staff are probably the most over-looked part of any Coffee Spot. Good staff can make a place and bad staff, no matter how great the coffee and wonderful the location, can kill a place.

Everywhere that features in the Coffee Spot has great staff, but these were exceptional, with some infectiously happy staff. However, this award isn’t just for happy staff; it’s for any staff who go that extra mile to make their coffee shop a special place.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Stan's Bike Shack, where, confusingly, Stan is actually Steve.
  • Press Coffee Waterfront and Dani, my ever-helpful barista.
  • Fortitude, where Cristabel and Niall made me feel very welcome.
  • Chez Black Coffee, whose staff went above and beyond the cause of duty...
  • ... as did the staff in Mellower Coffee, Century Link Tower 1.
  • Revelator Coffee, Tchoupitoulas Street, where the manager made me feel at home.
  • Stumptown Coffee, Ace Hotel (New Orleans) and Rashidah, Caroline and manager, Kyle.
  • Obscure Coffee, another warm welcome from owner Nick and partner Maz.
  • SLOW Cafe, another family-run affair, this time in Prague.
  • Ziggy Green, with thanks to Bella and her colleagues.
  • Alex Coffee, where Alex is at least called Alex. And is lovely.
  • Ngopi, with infectious ethusiasm for Indonesian coffee.
  • Blue Bottle Coffee, Nakameguro, standing out with outsanding service.
  • Panna Chester, a different city, but the same warm welcome from Ivana and Peter.
  • Onibus Coffee, Yakumo, more outstanding service to go with outstanding coffee.
Stan's Bike Shack, where, confusingly, Stan is actually Steve.1 Press Coffee Waterfront and Dani, my ever-helpful barista.2 Fortitude, where Cristabel and Niall made me feel very welcome.3 Chez Black Coffee, whose staff went above and beyond the cause of duty...4 ... as did the staff in Mellower Coffee, Century Link Tower 1.5 Revelator Coffee, Tchoupitoulas Street, where the manager made me feel at home.6 Stumptown Coffee, Ace Hotel (New Orleans) and Rashidah, Caroline and manager, Kyle.7 Obscure Coffee, another warm welcome from owner Nick and partner Maz.8 SLOW Cafe, another family-run affair, this time in Prague.9 Ziggy Green, with thanks to Bella and her colleagues.10 Alex Coffee, where Alex is at least called Alex. And is lovely.11 Ngopi, with infectious ethusiasm for Indonesian coffee.12 Blue Bottle Coffee, Nakameguro, standing out with outsanding service.13 Panna Chester, a different city, but the same warm welcome from Ivana and Peter.14 Onibus Coffee, Yakumo, more outstanding service to go with outstanding coffee.15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

The logo from the sign outside of Stan's Bike Shed in West Sussex.Stan’s Bike Shack

Stan’s Bike Shack is on the long-distance cycle-path, the Downs Link, between the villages of Partridge Green and Bines Green in West Sussex. A real walkers’ / cyclists’ coffee shop, it’s a lovely, family-run affair, with Stan (who’s name is actually Steve) setting the tone behind the counter. Stan’s Bike Shack has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Breakfast Awards.

My cortado at Press Coffee Waterfront, served on a wooden tray with a glass of sparkling water.Press Coffee Waterfront

Located in the Scottsdale Waterfront development, this is one the newest Press Coffees. As well as the usual excellent coffee, I was particularly well looked after by Dani, my barista, whose face lit up when I asked her to choose from the six single-origins on pour-over. Press Coffee also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.

The logo from the door at Fortitude in Edinburgh: Espresso & Brew Bar, plus Coffee Merchant.Fortitude

When I first visited Fortitude, owners Matt and Helen were permanently behind the counter, but these days, they spilt their time between family, coffee shop and roastery. Instead I was expertly looked after by Cristabel and Niall, who gave me the sort of warm welcome I’d have expected from Matt and Helen. Fortitude has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Best Roaster/Retailer Awards.

The logo of Chez Back from the pillar outside Chez Black Coffee on Taian Road, ShanghaiChez Black Coffee

I loved the staff in Chez Black Coffee in Shanghai, who were incredibly helpful, answering all my awkward question about the steampunkesque XLVI espresso machine from Italy. And this is despite me not being able to speak any Chinese. Chez Black has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.

 

My Enchanting Yunnan pour-over in my Therma Cup at Mellower Coffee in Century Link Tower 1, Shanghai.Mellower Coffee, Century Link Tower 1

Staying in Shanghai, Mellower Coffee is another homegrown coffee shop/roaster chain with multiple locations across the city. The staff in Century Link Tower 1, were so helpful, particularly because I wanted to buy some Yunnan coffee which had sold out. Despite the language barrier (see above) they suggested alternatives and gave me a filter bag (individual serving of pre-ground coffee) of the Yunnan I wanted to make up for it.

The front of Revelator on Tchoupitoulas Street.Revelator Coffee, Tchoupitoulas Street

From Shanghai to New Orleans and Revelator Coffee on Tchoupitoulas Street, a semi-regular haunt of mine during my week there for work. The manager was happy to make me samples of the coffee for me to try and was also a useful source of suggestions for other coffee shops in New Orleans.

 

A beautiful, colourful bag of coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters which I swapped for a copy of my book, The Philosophy of Coffee, at Stumptown's New Orleans branch in the Ace Hotel.Stumptown Coffee, Ace Hotel (New Orleans)

Staying in New Orleans, the staff in Stumptown Coffee were universally helpful, particularly my barista Rashidah, her colleague Caroline and the manager, Kyle. They happily made coffees for me to try and were full of suggestions, including putting me onto Woodcat Coffee Bar in Los Angeles. Stumptown Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting 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, opened by Nick, along with partner Maz, in November 2018. It has a strong pedigree, Nick having worked at both Artisan Roast and Brew Lab in Edinburgh and he’s as engaging as anyone I’ve met in the coffee industry. Obscure Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

The SLOW Cafe logo hanging outside the coffee shop in Prague.SLOW Café

Slow Café was my first chance discovery in Prague, popping in on the off chance as I wandered past, drawn in by the weekly brunch menu in the window. It’s another family-run establishment, with the owners very much setting the tone (for example, only working with roasters that they know personally). Slow Café has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast Award.

The sign from the back wall of Ziggy Green in Mayfair, a quote from David Bowie's Space Oddity:Ziggy Green

I’ve long though that one of the hardest parts of growing a coffee business is recruiting and maintaining excellent staff, something which Pru and Tom of the Daisy Green Collective have done superbly over the years. At Ziggy Green, one of the recent openings, Bella and her colleagues, looked after me with style. Ziggy Green has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

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

From the large to the tiny. Alex, owner, barista and pretty much everything else at Alex Coffee, can be relied upon to greet you with a friendly smile from behind the counter, where he’s as much of a draw as the coffee, which comes from Red Bank Coffee, in Coniston in the Lake District (Alex went to the same law school as Tom, Red Bank’s owner). Alex Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.

A Kopi Tubruk, a traditional Indonesian coffee, where hot water is poured directly on ground coffee, stirred and then left to stand, made with a naturally-processed Kerinci Kayu Aro from Ngopi in Birmingham.Ngopi

I must confess that prior to meeting to enthusiastic staff from Ngopi at the Birmingham Coffee Festival, I’d rather overlooked Indonesian coffee. They soon put me right, both the coffee and their friendly disposition winning me over. They’re just the same in the city centre cafe, with Ngopi shortlisted for three more Awards: Best Roaster/Retailer, Best Espresso and Most Passionate About Coffee.

My single-origin pour-over served in a beautiful glass cup at Blue Bottle Coffee in Nakameguro.Blue Bottle Coffee, Nakameguro

One of the larger chains with multiple staff where I’ve been consistently impressed with the service is Blue Bottle Coffee in Tokyo, where the staff have always been excellent. Against that high standard, the staff at the Nakameguro location, and, in particular, Yoshi, stood out! Blue Bottle Coffee Nakameguro has also been shortlisted for this year’s Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.

A Chemex of a Los Suspiros from Guatemala, roasted by Square Mile of London and served in Panna, Chester.Panna Chester

Panna began life in Liverpool, where owners Ivana and Peter, a friendly, welcoming Slovak couple, had turned a potentially unpromising basement in Silkhouse Court into a lovely, warm, welcoming café. When they moved to Chester earlier this year, they brought the same winning combination with them. Panna has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.

My Colombian El Paraiso, a washed coffee, being made in a V60 at the new Onibus coffee shop/roastery in Yakumo, Tokyo.Onibus Coffee, Yakumo

Returning to Tokyo, where the level of service in pretty much every coffee shop I’ve been to has been excellent, another which has stood out is Onibus Coffee. I’ve shortlisted the Yakumo coffee shop for this award, but honestly, it could have gone to any Onibus location. Onibus Coffee, Yakumo has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Cake Award.


And the winner is Ngopi
Runners-up: Panna Chester and Obscure Coffee

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


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5 thoughts on “2019 Awards – Happiest Staff

  1. Pingback: 2019 Awards – Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot | Brian's Coffee Spot

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