2020 has been a very strange year, so much so that I almost forgot the Coffee Spot’s birthday, remembering just in time, late on Monday evening, that the Coffee Spot was eight years old that day. It was, of course, far too late to write anything about it, hence this slightly delayed post. I launched the Coffee Spot on Friday, 28th September 2012 (at 14.15 to be precise) with a vague idea that it might become a useful resource for coffee (shop) lovers and an entertaining way for me to spend (some of) my spare time.
For the first five months of the Coffee Spot’s eighth year, things carried on much as before, as I travelled around the world, visiting and writing about all the wonderful coffee shops I found. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and everything Coffee Spot related ground to a halt. After quickly running through my backlog of Coffee and Travel Spots, I passed my time writing about making coffee at home. Then, just when I’d pretty much said all I had to say, coffee shops began to reopen, enabling me to write about them again in my COVID-19 updates. Now we’re at another crossroads, and I’m wondering what the Coffee Spot’s ninth year will bring…
You can read a review of the Coffee Spot’s eighth year after the gallery.
The Coffee Spot’s eighth year started as the seventh year ended, with my travel schedule as hectic as ever. I’d only just returned from Japan and, before I knew it, October arrived and I was off again. This time it was only as far as Ireland, with a week travelling around the country followed by a week in Dublin for work (and, of course, visiting coffee shops). I had a couple of weeks back in the UK, then at the start of November, I was in Tokyo again for a week, arriving just in time for the Rugby World Cup Final.
That was it for international travel for 2019, but I still had time for a short trip to Canterbury and Whitstable at the end of November, followed by a relatively quiet December, the second month of 2019 that I spent entirely in the UK.
Little did I know that this would become a regular feature of life in 2020, which started with my customary trip to the USA, this time taking in the Bay Area, San Francisco, Phoenix and Portland, Maine. That accounted for January and, after a couple of weeks back in the UK, when I managed to visit the likes of Ue Coffee and Whaletown Coffee Co., I was off to America again. This time I started in Portland (Maine), before heading down to Atlanta for the first time, then flying to Chicago, where I was supposed to spend two weeks for work.
However, I had only just arrived when I decided to cut my trip short, hastily flying home as the COVID-19 brought both the USA and the UK to a sudden halt. I arrived home just before the country-wide shutdown of the hospitality industry which left me scratching my head about what to write on a coffee blog that was dedicated to visiting coffee shops…
The answer was a short piece on making coffee in my cafetiere, which grew into my Coffee at Home series, including articles about making coffee at home, coffee itself, coffee preparation methods and coffee equipment. In the end, it grew into quite a body of work, of which I’m rather proud, given that I’d never planned to write it, or anything like it! Hopefully it will be a useful resource for years to come!
These articles took me through the months of April and May and into June, by which point coffee shops in my hometown of Guildford had started to reopen, although only offering takeaway coffee. Then came the news that the Government was planning on relaxing restrictions in England, allowing coffee shops (along with pubs, bars and restaurants) to reopen. Initially sceptical, I started visiting coffee shops again in July, at first in London, then slowly spreading my wings to include the likes of Reading and Chester, then Birmingham in August and Liverpool in September.
Now, as we reach the end of September, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise and once again I’m wondering how long I’m going to be able to carry on visiting coffee shops. Overall, I’ve been very pleased at how well the speciality coffee sector has adapted to COVID-19 and I think that is well-placed to cope with the most recent restrictions, but who knows what the future will hold?
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