2019 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

The Sarah's Caring Coffee logo.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2019, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Sarah’s Caring Coffee & The Coffee Bean. This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • Berdena's, a wonderful multi-roaster in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor, with a working 100-year-old Uno roaster in the corner.
  • Omotesando Koffee, a small slice of Tokyo/Japanese third-wave coffee culture in London.
  • Surrey Hills Coffee, encouraging reuse by ditching prepacked coffee.
  • Ritual Coffee Roasters, Hayes Valley, where size is no barrier!
  • Second Shot, Bethnal Green, a social enterprise helping the homeless.
  • Kavárna Místo, excellent coffee, excellent food in a restaurant in Prague.
  • Toki, a lovely coffee shop in Amsterdam.
  • Maruyama Single Origin, lifting the coffee experience one notch higher in Tokyo.
  • Ratio &C, a home-from-home in Tokyo, around the corner from my hotel.
  • Glitch Coffee & Roasters, another one raising the coffee experience in Tokyo.
  • Filter (Cork), a wonderful, quirky speciality coffee pioneer.
  • Brother Hubbard North, rebuilt, reborn, but still as good as ever.
  • Kafi, which could have been on so many shortlists, it really is that good.
  • Blueprint Coffee & Books, doing just what the name suggests in Whitstable.
Berdena's, a wonderful multi-roaster in Scottsdale, Arizona.1 Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor, with a working 100-year-old Uno roaster in the corner.2 Omotesando Koffee, a small slice of Tokyo/Japanese third-wave coffee culture in London.3 Surrey Hills Coffee, encouraging reuse by ditching prepacked coffee.4 Ritual Coffee Roasters, Hayes Valley, where size is no barrier!5 Second Shot, Bethnal Green, a social enterprise helping the homeless.6 Kavárna Místo, excellent coffee, excellent food in a restaurant in Prague.7 Toki, a lovely coffee shop in Amsterdam.8 Maruyama Single Origin, lifting the coffee experience one notch higher in Tokyo.9 Ratio &C, a home-from-home in Tokyo, around the corner from my hotel.10 Glitch Coffee & Roasters, another one raising the coffee experience in Tokyo.11 Filter (Cork), a wonderful, quirky speciality coffee pioneer.12 Brother Hubbard North, rebuilt, reborn, but still as good as ever.13 Kafi, which could have been on so many shortlists, it really is that good.14 Blueprint Coffee & Books, doing just what the name suggests in Whitstable.15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A lovely espresso, served on a wooden tray, with a glass of sparkling water on the side.Berdena’s

Berdena’s in Scottsdale is a wonderful coffee shop, a something of a rarity in the US speciality coffee scene. Not only does it do a range of food, but it’s also a multi-roaster which brings in some superb coffee from all around the world (good enough for a place on the Best Espresso Award shortlist). The staff also excellent, friendly and helpful.

Details of the main drive wheel of the 100 year old, fully working Uno coffee roaster at Atkinsons in Mackie Mayor in Manchester.Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor

I’ve still not managed to make it to Atkinsons in Lancaster, where it all started, but I did, finally, make it to Atkinsons in Mackie Mayor, a restored Victoria Market in Manchester. Occupying a lovely coffee shop, it’s made all the better for the presence of the working 100-year-old Uno roaster in the corner, which won Atkinsons a place on this shortlist. Atkinsons has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Best Cake Awards.

A lovely espresso in a classic white cup, made with the bespoke house-blend at Omotesando Koffee, London.Omotesando Koffee, London

A small slice of Tokyo and Japanese third-wave coffee culture in London, Omotesando Koffee opened to much fan fare at the end of last year. Starting with a pop-up in Omotesando in Tokyo, Omotesando Koffee has gone on to spawn a series of coffee shops around the world, and it is for this achievement, as much as any other, that it has a place on the shortlist. Omotesando Koffee is also on the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award shortlist.

Details from the A-board outside the new home of Surrey Hills Coffee on Jeffries Passage in Guildford.Surrey Hills Coffee

From Tokyo to Guildford via London, my hometown Surrey Hills Coffee has gone from strength-to-strength and this year, I finally got to check out the new upstairs space at Surrey Hills’ new home on Jefferies Passage. However, it’s the move to stop selling coffee in pre-packaged bags, instead moving to selling coffee loose to encourage packaging reuse that’s won it a place on this shortlist. Surrey Hills has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.

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, although this, in a shipping container, is probably its smallest coffee shop, although that hasn’t stopped it from offering a full coffee service.It’s this dedication to coffee excellence that has won it a place on the shortlist. Ritual Coffee Roasters has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot 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

From San Francisco back to London, and the original Second Shot in Bethnal Green. This is a lovely little coffee shop (earning a place on the Smallest Coffee Spot shortlist), but it is its role as a social enterprise, helping homeless people, that’s won it a place on this shortlist. It’s Second Shot has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.

The Ethiopian Uraga single-origin espresso from Doubleshot at its cafe, Kavárna Místo, in Prague.Kavárna Místo

Good coffee and good food don’t often go together, at least not in a restaurant setting. However, Kavárna Místo in Prague bucks this trend. It is one of three coffee shops of renowned Czech roasters, Doubleshot and is also a full service restaurant. The coffee offering is excellent though, including a filter tasting flight, which, unsurprisingly, impressed me no end!

My pour-over at Toki, a Kenya Mwendia AA from Bonanza, served in a carafe with a cup on the side, all presented on a small tray.Toki

Toki is just a 10-minute walk northwest of Amsterdam’s Central Station. A large, bright, open coffee shop, Toki’s made up of several smaller, interconnected rooms, serving coffee from Bonanza in Berlin, with two options on espresso and three on pour-over. If coffee doesn’t take your fancy, there’s a wide range of loose-leaf teas, plus cold drinks and a fridge full of beer, while there’s a kitchen serving brunch.

Detail from the sign above the door of Maruyama Coffee's branch in Nishi AzabuMaruyama Single Origin

The first of three entries from Tokyo, my first ever coffee in Japan was at Maruyama in Nishi Azabu, so the roaster/coffee shop chain has a special place in my heart. Its Single Origin store in Aoyama serves, as the name suggests, single origins, but what’s won it a place of the shortlist are the various coffee experiences it offers, including serving the same espresso in two different cups.

Some lovely latte art in my latte at Ratio &C, part of the Onibus chain in Tokyo.Ratio &C

Ratio &C is part of Tokyo-based coffee shop/roaster chain, Onibus, one of my favourite Japanese roasters. Located inside a self-styled cycle concept store by Bridgestone, it’s a short walk from my hotel. This has made it a frequent stop on my way back from the office, the perfect place to unwind. I visited so often that this year I managed to try all the coffee! Ratio &C has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.

The Glitch Coffee & Roasters logo from the wall next to the roaster.Glitch Coffee & Roasters

The third of three entries from Tokyo, Glitch Coffee & Roasters is, as the name suggests, another coffee shop/roaster, albeit one with just two shops. Glitch specialises in lightly-roasted single-origins and offers probably the best filter tasting flights I’ve ever tried, which is what got it on this shortlist. Glitch has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

The front of Filter, in Cork, with the door on the left, and a solitary bench under the window on the right.Filter (Cork)

Filter is one of Cork’s speciality coffee pioneers. It’s a very homely place, with an eclectic mix of styles, kitted out almost entirely with bespoke furniture made from reclaimed wood, no single piece quite matching any other. A welcoming, friendly place, perhaps the best part is the dedicated filter bar in the rear of the shop. Filter has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

A latte art heart in my cortado, made with the Farmhand house-blend, at Brother Hubbard North in Dublin.Brother Hubbard North

When I first visited Dublin in 2014, Brother Hubbard was a relatively small place, with a reputation for excellent food as well as really good coffee. 5½ years on, it’s been reborn as Brother Hubbard North, changing beyond (almost) all recognition and maybe 10 times bigger than it once was! It’s now a takeaway joint, coffee shop, retailer and restaurant, with an on-site roastery, Farmhand, thrown in for good measure.

Detail of the wall art in Kafi, Fitzrovia, showing small white flowers on a plain background.Kafi

Kafi is a very special place which opened in Fitzrovia this year. It’s the sort of place that you rarely find in London anymore, with a focus on coffee (for example, it’s one of a very few places offering the Syphon as a preparation method). But it’s a whole lot more than that and could easily have been on half a dozen other shortlists (it did make it on the Best Filter Coffee shortlist). Instead, I’ve included it here.

The Blueprint Coffee & Books logo taken from a tote bag in the shop in Whitstable.Blueprint Coffee & Books

Our final entry is in Whitstable, where Blueprint Coffee & Books does exactly what the name says, offering excellent coffee (good enough for a place on the shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award) and books in a pair of rooms on the ground floor of a lovely old building.

 


And the winner is Kafi
Runners-up: Blueprint Coffee & Books and Ratio &C

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


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