Our third shortlist in the 2020 Coffee Spot Awards is the “Coffee Spot with the Best Basement” Award. As regular readers will know, I have a soft spot for Coffee Spots with good basements. In 2019 this Award went to Society Café, The Corridor.
To some, a basement is a dark, sometimes dingy, cramped space. However, when they are at their best, basements are cosy, welcoming spaces that provide the perfect spot to curl up with your coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots with outstanding basements, the sort of places you want to go and spend all day in! It also includes those Coffee Spots which, while not technically basements, have that basement-like feel to them.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
We start our shortlist in Prague with Coffee and Riot. While technically not a basement (Coffee and Riot is on the ground floor of an old building in the back streets of the Nové Město) with its whitewashed walls and vaulted ceilings, it feels more like a basement than any actual basements I’ve been in. Coffee and Riot has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Physical Space Awards.
We’re in Chester for the second of our technically-not-a-basement entries on this year’s shortlist. Bridge St Coffee is under the city’s famous Rows, occupying a basement-like space which goes back a long way. Newly opened last year, it is in good company, part of Chester’s growing speciality coffee scene. It’s also in good company on this shortlist, as well as having made it onto the Best Cake Award shortlist as well.
Atlanta’s Firelight Coffee Roasters is another technically-not-a-basement entry, even though from the front door, you have to go down a flight of steps to reach it (it’s actually at the back of the Strongbox West co-working on the lower ground floor). As well as providing an in-house coffee bar, it’s also a working roastery. Firelight has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Roaster/Retailer Awards.
Our first actual basement on this year’s shortlist is Nozy Coffee from Tokyo. Sadly Nozy had to close earlier this year, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it had a lovely, cube-shaped basement, with the counter at the back and additional seating upstairs. Oh, and an excellent range of filter coffee to choose from!
The pedants among us (ie, me) will argue whether a (disused) underground Victorian public toilet counts as a basement or not. I’d love to claim precedent, but sadly when I first wrote about Attendant in 2013, I didn’t have a Best Basement Award so I can’t. Either way, Attendant, on Foley St in Fitzrovia, has a very basement-like feel to it, so I feel that it has earned its place on this year’s shortlist.
Our next entry takes us back to Chester for another technically-not-a-basement. This time we are on Watergate Street, rather than Bridge Street, with Panna Chester, another coffee shop under the city’s famous Rows. When I first wrote about Panna, in 2019, it made it onto that year’s shortlist, so it’s only fitting it is back again this year. Panna has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
We’re staying in Chester for the next three entries, starting with Short + Stout which bucks the trend by actually having a basement. When I first wrote about Short + Stout, the basement wasn’t open, with only the small upstairs seating area available. Now you have the choice: upstairs (with all the windows) or downstairs in the cosy basement. Entirely up to you!
Jaunty Goat returns to the theme of technically-not-basements extending under the Rows on Bridge Street in Chester. When I first wrote about Jaunty Goat in 2016, it made it onto that year’s shortlist, so here it is again. Since then, it has undergone a major overhaul, especially in the basement-like area at the back. It now has a new, meat-free menu and roasts its own coffee, winning spots on the Best Filter Coffee and Best Roaster/Retailer shortlists.
Our fifth and final entry from Chester on this year’s shortlist sees us on Watergate Street with another technically not basement under the Rows. This time it’s the turn of Chalk Coffee, which, unsurprisingly, made it to the shortlist when I first wrote about it in 2019. With its long, low vaulted ceiling of exposed brickwork at the back, Chalk is perhaps the most basement-like of the lot. Chalk Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.
Our final entry sees us back in London with Catalyst. Catalyst the coffee shop is upstairs, but downstairs in the basement (visible through glass panels in the floor) is Catalyst the roaster. Sadly off limits to the public, you can sneak a peak from the bottom of the stairs if you wander down to the toilet though. Catalyst is also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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