The first shortlist for the 2020 Coffee Spot Awards is the “Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot” Award, won in 2019 by The Hideout. Finding Coffee Spots in cities such as New York, Edinburgh or Manchester is to be expected. However, while good Coffee Spots are everywhere, some of them are in very unexpected places, both geographically and in terms of setting.
This Award is very much defined by the nominees on the shortlist. Some of these are geographical, a reward for bringing great coffee to unexpected places. Others are a recognition of a great or unusual setting for a Coffee Spot. This year, for example, there are quite a few Coffee Spots inside other places/shops in the shortlist.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Our first entry is the RAWR Coffee Bar, a speciality coffee shop inside a cat cafe in Oakland, California. While cat cafes are increasingly common, it’s still very rare to find one serving speciality coffee. Not so Cat Town, which has a fully fledged speciality coffee shop attached. You are welcome to just visit the RAWR Coffee Bar by the way, where you can see the cats through a window, or you can combine it with a pre-booked visit to the Cat Town (if you want to go in with the cats).
Verve, from Santa Cruz in California, has several Japanese coffee shops, but rather than Tokyo, this lovely coffee shop is in the city of Kamakura, an hour by train from the capital. It’s also shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
Phoenix Sky Harbor airport has an outstanding coffee shop, Cartel Coffee Lab, but it’s in Terminal 4 and, at the start of the year, I was flying from the Terminal 3. Cursing my luck, I stumbled on Giant Coffee and all was well in the world! Giant Coffee is also on the shortlist for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award (expanded this year to include airports!).
139 Coffee continues the combination of coffee and cycling from inside Cycle Exchange in Kingston Upon Thames. Just off Richmond Road, north of the centre, it’s an unlikely location at first sight, so much so that I was double-checking Google Maps before I found it. It was definitely worth it though, with 139 Coffee serving a traditional espresso-based menu from Ground Coffee Society, backed up by a small brunch menu and plenty of cakes.
Plenty of brunch spots serve great coffee (particularly, it seems, in Dublin) but what makes Reference Coffee stand out from the crowd is that while it is part of the excellent Meet Me in the Morning, supplying all the coffee to the diners there, it’s also a standalone coffee shop in its own right, so you can just pop into Reference for your coffee if you like. Reference Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office is a lovely coffee shop/roastery spread over two floors in Kanazawa, Japan. It earned a spot on this shortlist thanks to its unusual location by one of the gates to the ruined Kanazawa Castle, making it an ideal spot for pre- or post-sightseeing coffee. If only all tourist locations had such excellent coffee! Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office is also on the shortlists for Best Outdoor Seating and Best Roaster/Retailer.
Slowly but surely, coworking spaces are cottoning onto the fact that having good coffee on-site is a major selling point. Sometimes these are in-house coffee bars, but in the case of Atlanta’s Strongbox West, the coffee bar, Firelight Coffee Roasters, is not only open to the public, but it’s also home to the roastery as well! Firelight is also on the shortlist for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement and Best Roaster/Retailer Awards.
The last places-within-a-place entries, Anonymous Coffee Co is tucked inside Reading’s Tasting House, a wine bar/merchant. Occupying a small counter inside the door, there are two espresso and two pour-over options, plus excellent cake. Anonymous is also shortlisted for the on the Best Cake and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Queens of Mayfair opened this year, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only that, it’s right in the heart of Mayfair, one of London’s most expensive districts which was crying out for some good coffee! And what a gem Queens is, offering some of the best coffee and coffee experiences around. Queens of Mayfair is also on the shortlists for the Best Physical Space and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
This year’s final entry, Heartwork Coffee Bar, also opened this year, back in January. Operating from a horsebox in a farm yard in the heart of the Surrey Hills, Heartwork Coffee Bar was definitely one of my unexpected finds of the year! Heartwork Coffee Bar has also made it onto the shortlists for the Best Takeaway Coffee, Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Best Outdoor Seating Awards!
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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