Coffee Spot Awards 2019: Winners

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2020 underway, here are the winners of the eighth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2019. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve and now we have the winners!

Before we go on, I know I’ve said this before, but a big thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page and looked at my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.

If you don’t like lists, you can see who won this year’s Awards in the gallery.

  • The Hideout, the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot.
  • Workshop Coffee at The Pilgrm, serving up this year's Best Takeaway Coffee.
  • Lost Sheep Coffee, the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot.
  • Coffee Addict, the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting.
  • Tasting Flights at Glitch Coffee, serving this year's Best Filter Coffee.
  • Espresso Station, Moor Street Station, the Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station.
  • Coffee & Science with Bean Thinking, the Best Saturday Supplement.
  • Pavilion Cafe, winner of the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
  • Blueprint Coffee & Books, serving up this year's Best Espresso.
  • Alex Coffee, this year's Smallest Coffee Spot.
  • Donut Shop, where I had this year's Best Cake.
  • Wood St Coffee Roastery, winner of the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
  • First Draft Coffee & Wine, which provided me with this year's Best Flat White.
  • Pražírna Kavárna, winner of the Best Physical Space Award.
  • Ngopi, the Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff.
  • SLOW Cafe, which provided me with this year's Best Breakfast.
  • Coffee Curiosity,  the Most Passionate About Coffee.
  • Kafi, recipient of the Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award.
  • Omotesando Koffee, London, this year's Most Popular Coffee Spot.
The Hideout, the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot.1 Workshop Coffee at The Pilgrm, serving up this year's Best Takeaway Coffee.2 Lost Sheep Coffee, the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot.3 Coffee Addict, the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting.4 Tasting Flights at Glitch Coffee, serving this year's Best Filter Coffee.5 Espresso Station, Moor Street Station, the Best Coffee Spot Near a Railway Station.6 Coffee & Science with Bean Thinking, the Best Saturday Supplement.7 Pavilion Cafe, winner of the Best Outdoor Seating Award.8 Blueprint Coffee & Books, serving up this year's Best Espresso.9 Alex Coffee, this year's Smallest Coffee Spot.10 Donut Shop, where I had this year's Best Cake.11 Wood St Coffee Roastery, winner of the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.12 First Draft Coffee & Wine, which provided me with this year's Best Flat White.13 Pražírna Kavárna, winner of the Best Physical Space Award.14 Ngopi, the Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff.15 SLOW Cafe, which provided me with this year's Best Breakfast.16 Coffee Curiosity,  the Most Passionate About Coffee.17 Kafi, recipient of the Brian's Coffee Spot Special Award.18 Omotesando Koffee, London, this year's Most Popular Coffee Spot.19
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So, without further ado, let’s see who won.

Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot (2018 Winner: Craving Coffee)

Details taken from the menu board at The Hideout, where it proudly claims "No Takeaway Cups".The Hideout

In a year with some great surprise discoveries, The Hideout was a real bonus, opening just on my doorstep at the University of Surrey. While students are known for their coffee drinking, they’re not always known for their speciality coffee drinking, so having a speciality coffee shop open up on campus was a real (and welcome surprise). The Hideout was also shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

Runners-up: Canary Coffee, another speciality coffee shop in/attached to a hotel and Stan’s Bike Shack, great coffee and food on a long-distance cycle path.

Best Takeaway Coffee (2018 Winner: CanDo Coffee, Merchant Square)

The Workshop Coffee logo from the front of the counter at The Pilgrm.Workshop Coffee at The Pilgrm

I was really spoilt for choice this year with so much great takeaway coffee from Phoenix to Tokyo and all points between. It was therefore really difficult to pick a winner, but in the end, I settled on London, where the consistency of both the coffee and the service from Workshop at The Pilgrm, opposite Paddington Station, swung it for me. I look forward to returning next year for many more flat whites to go.

Runners-up: Stockholm Roast, my go-to spot on the way to the office in Tokyo and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Paddington Central, another great option in Paddington.

Coffee Spot with the Best Basement (2018 Winner: Verve Omotesando)

The mural on the wall of the basement in Society Cafe, The Corridor, in Bath, showing flowers growing in a coffee cup, with a small animal peaking its head out.Society Café, The Corridor

When I first visited Society Café, in Bath’s Victoria Shopping Arcade, The Corridor, it was 2014 and the basement was just a storeroom. However, when I returned earlier this year, I was delighted to find that it had been converted into a lovely, cosy seating space. It’s not particularly big, but it’s one of the finest basements that I’ve had the pleasure of gracing for a long time.

Runners-up: HR Higgins Coffee Room located in the basement under the coffee and tea merchants upstairs and The Beehive with its large library-like basement.

Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (2018 Winner: Milk Teeth Café & Stores)

Detail from the chipboard box next to the Lost Sheep Coffee Pod in Saint George's Lane, Canterbury.Lost Sheep Coffee

There are many ways of creating a neighbourhood feel in a coffee shop, but to do it in when you don’t even have a coffee shop is particularly impressive. Lost Sheep’s coffee pod down by Canterbury bus station has a real community feel to it though, with the majority of the customers being regulars, who seem to know both each other and the staff (who have been known to hang out there on days off!).

Runners-up: Wood St Coffee, creating a sense of community in Walthamstow (London) and Woodcat Coffee Bar, doing the same in Echo Park (Los Angeles).

Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting (2018 Winner: Exe Coffee Roasters)

Coffee Addict on Vauxhall Bridge Road, occupying the site of the original Costa Coffee, which opened in 1978 (Coffee Addict, in contrast, opened in 2019)Coffee Addict

Another tough one to judge, I ended up with Coffee Addict, opposite Victoria Station in London, perhaps the smallest winner of this Award over the years. It just goes to show that you don’t need huge numbers of lights, or (that many) fancy light fittings to have some amazing light. In the case of Coffee Addict, it was the combination of the lights and the design which saw it over the line.

Runners-up: Curio Espresso and Vintage Design with its vintage lighting in Kanazawa and Big Bad Wolf Coffee in Streatham, all exposed bulbs and bare bricks.

Best Filter Coffee (2018 Winner: Pax Treme)

A tasting flight of three single-origin filters at Glitch Coffee & Roasters in Tokyo.Tasting Flights at Glitch Coffee

Tokyo‘s Glitch Coffee has become one of my favourite roasters, specialising in lightly-roasted single-origins. It also has a lovely little coffee shop/ roastery and offering filter tasting flights is a big bonus. However, what swung it was the quality of the coffee on offer. I went twice, trying six coffees across two tasting flights and each of them was outstanding in its own right.

Runners-up: UNDEF/NE, for the best Yunnan coffee I’ve ever had and Maverick Coffee for a wonderful natural Ethiopian Kidane.

Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station (2018 Winner: Canvas Coffee)

A classic espresso, made with the Monsoon Estates' seasonal blend, and served in a classic cup at the Espresso Station in Moor Street Station, Birmingham.Espresso Station, Moor Street Station

Sometimes winners just pick themselves and so it was in the case of the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station, where Espresso Station, sat right on the concourse of Birmingham‘s lovely Moor Street Station, was always going to be extremely hard to beat.

 

Runners-up: Blue Monday, a real gem hidden next to Kanazawa Station and Blue Bottle Coffee, excellent coffee and service in Shinagawa Station.

Best Saturday Supplement (2018 Winner: Improving Airline Coffee: British Airways & Union Hand-roasted)

The Coffee & Science logo, a coffee cup with an equation written in a light-beam projecting from the cup.Coffee & Science with Bean Thinking

Bean Thinking, the coffee and science blog, is a wonderful thing and in 2019, it went one better, starting a series of evening coffee and science events, held every month at Amoret Speciality Coffee in Notting Hill. I love the combination of science and coffee: if you can, go to one of the events in 2020!

Runners-up: Out of the Box, Tonbridge, bringing the Out of the Box experience to the general public and Birmingham Coffee Festival, my favourite coffee festival last year.

Best Outdoor Seating (2018 Winner: Lemana Coffee & Kitchen)

The word CAFE in white on the side wall of the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park, glass dome soaring above.Pavilion Café

You can’t beat sitting outside, on the edge of a lake, coffee in one hand, breakfast in front of you. Take a bow, Pavilion Café, serving up your wares from a circular, glass-domed pavilion (hence the name) on the shore of the West Lake in Bethnal Green’s Victoria Park. Sorry it took me so long to get to visit!

 

Runners-up: The Point, where a riverside terrace in the ancient Water Town of Zhujiajiao and the secluded garden of Pražírna Kavárna were both close seconds.

Best Espresso (2018 Winner: Verve Coffee Roasters, Pacific Avenue)

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

This year was particularly good for espresso, with some fantastic single-origins from all around the world. However, the winner was one I had right at the end of the year, a stunning macerated natural IH-90 varietal from Honduras, roasted by Alchemy, expertly pulled by Matt at Blueprint Coffee & Books.

 

Runners-up: Birmingham Coffee Festival where I had a wonderful Indonesian Mount Halu from Ngopi & Rival Bros, Tasker Street, and its Hacienda Sonora from Costa Rica.

Smallest Coffee Spot (2018 Winner: Melbourne in Lichfield, Bolt Court)

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

Alex Coffee is in Fitzrovia, occupying a tiny spot that few (sane) people would have ever considered for a coffee shop. However, it’s an amazing place, exactly the sort of coffee shop that I set up this Award to celebrate, with some awesome coffee and a warm welcome from Alex behind the counter.

 

Runners-up: Party at Moorgate, partying in the smallest space possible, and Mouse Tail Coffee Stories, Whitechapel, with its tiny seating area off to the right.

Best Cake (2018 Winner: Siop Shop)

A glorious Boston Rhubarb doughtnut from the Donut ShopDonut Shop

There’s been a definite doughnut theme to this Award in recent years and Prague’s Donut Shop has kept that up with a simply stunning Boston Rhubarb, a classic sugared doughnut with a Boston cream filling, complete with chunks of rhubarb, easily the best I’ve had this year.

 

Runners-up: Chromatic Coffee, Santa Clara, breaking the mould with its Kouign Ammon and Small Batch, Goldstone Villas with, you’ve guessed it, another doughnut.

Best Roaster/Retailer (2018 Winner: Koffee Mameya)

The roaster, a 5 kg Probat, at Wood St Coffee in Walthamstow.Wood St Coffee Roastery

I’ve followed the progress of Wood St Coffee ever  since it opened in Walthamstow not long after I started the Coffee Spot, watching it move from pop-up its permanent home in Blackhorse Workshop. Now it can add coffee roaster to its name, producing some wonderful single-origins (I tried them all) from its roastery in a container in front of the coffee shop.

Runners-up: I Will Kill Again aka Dark Arts Coffee in Hackney and Onibus Coffee, with its new roastery in Tokyo.

Best Flat White (2018 Winner: New for 2019)

A lovely flat white in a class white cup on a black saucer, made with an El Mirador single-origin from Guatemala, roasted by Roasted Brown and served at First Draft Coffee & Wine in Dublin.First Draft Coffee & Wine

I was very taken with all aspects of First Draft Coffee & Wine, which serves coffee during the day and a wide selection of wine in the evening. My flat white, made using an El Mirador from Guatemala, roasted by Roasted Brown, was superb, the coffee and milk going extremely well together.

 

Runners-up: Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor for the decaf Colombian piccolo and Fortitude for a washed Colombian, it’s fruity nature coming strongly through the milk in my flat white.

Best Physical Space (2018 Winner: Cottontree Coffee Roasters)

The Pražírna Kavárna logo, a black and white line drawing of a roaster. Am I the only one who thinks it looks like a steam train?Pražírna Kavárna

It’s fair to say that I fell in love with Pražírna Kavárna from the moment I walked down the steps and into the brick-vaulted interior in Prague. That it had another three rooms, each better than the one before, plus an awesome, secluded garden at the back, was just icing on the cake.

 

Runners-up: Bread, Espresso & Arashiyama Garden with its 200 year old Japanese farmhouse, and Ipsento, with the cosiest of cosy back rooms.

Happiest Staff (2018 Winner: Heart & Graft Coffee Shop)

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

It’s fair to say that Ngopi in Birmingham has been my find of 2019. Dealing exclusively in Indonesian single-origin coffee, it ended up shortlisted for four Awards this year, including this one, and could have won any and all of them. I’ve decided to give Ngopi the Happiest Staff Awards because they are simply that happy, and at the same time, excellent ambassadors for Indonesian coffee.

Runners-up: Panna Chester, Ivana and Peter carrying on where they left of in Liverpool, and Obscure Coffee, where Nick and partner Maz have created something special.

Best Breakfast (2018 Winner: Short + Stout)

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

In a packed field, SLOW Café in Prague drew me in with its brunch menu on display in the window. It looked awesome and I wasn’t disappointed, so much so that I went back the following week to try the new menu. And I wasn’t disappointed then either!

 

Runners-up: 65mm Coffee with some lovely smokey beans and Café Névé, Rachel, with breakfasts fit for a king!

Most Passionate About Coffee (2018 Winner: Discourse Coffee)

Details from the coffee menu at Canterbury's Coffee Curiosity.Coffee Curiosity

Chase, the owner of Coffee Curiosity in Canterbury, would have won the Coffee Spot Alteration Award, except I don’t have one, so this will have to do. I’ve known Chase for a long time, working first as a barista, then as a manager, before creating his own coffee shop over many years. The result, Coffee Curiosity, is an absolute gem and his passion shines through in everything he does.

Runners-up: Congregation Coffee Roasters, almost evangelical about great coffee in New Orleans and Chromatic Coffee, continuing with all the Cs in San Jose, California.

Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2018 Winner: Sarah’s Caring Coffee & The Coffee Bean)

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

I looked at Kafi’s website before I visited. It was, I thought, either going to be smoke and mirrors marketing, or it was going to be very, very good. Fortunately, Kafi is very, very good, an amazing place of the sort you don’t see in London these days. In fact, it’s really very special and so was an obvious choice for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.

Runners-up: Blueprint Coffee & Books, doing exactly what the name says and doing it very well indeed and Ratio &C, my home from home in Tokyo.

Most Popular Coffee Spot (2018 Winner: Decent Espresso)

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

For the first time since 2014, the post that you have most wanted to read about has been an actual coffee shop! For the last four years, the winners have all been about home coffee equipment. However, with over 800 views this year, Omotesando Koffee, a small slice of Tokyo and Japanese third-wave coffee culture in London, was the clear winner.

Runners-up: Liar Liar in Oswestry and East Coffee Company in Glasgow have made it a clean sweep for coffee shops this year


Before you go, if you appreciate the Coffee Spot and what I do, then please consider voting for me in this year’s Sprudgie Awards. I’ve been nominated in the Best Coffee Writing category and while that in itself is a great honour, it would be fabulous if the Coffee Spot could win!


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