2020 Awards – Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting

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)We kick off the second day with shortlist for the 2020 Coffee Spot Award for “Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting”, won last year by Coffee Addict.

Lighting in coffee shops has long held a fascination for me, with most of the galleries containing a shot or two of an interesting light-fitting. This Award celebrates those Coffee Spots with particularly outstanding lighting. Note that I was back writing about Coffee Addict again this year, but I decided to keep Coffee Addict off the shortlist so that someone else would have a chance of winning.

You can see who that might be after the gallery.

  • Let's get going with Brother Hubbard South in Duiblin, home to awesome coffee & lights!
  • Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy is Witney is another with great coffee & lights!
  • Next to Atlanta in the USA and Octane: Westside, because who doesn't love a glitter ball?
  • Staying in the US with Fairgrounds Bucktown in Chicago, home of the Chemex lampshade.
  • Staying in Chicagi with Intelligentsia, Wicker Park and more fancy light-fittings.
  • Back to the UK and Notes, Trafalgar Square, home to the angle-poise lamp chandelier.
  • The Press Room, Surbiton, where coffee comes in cups and in lights on the wall.
  • Back in London with Notes, King's Cross and yes, another angle-poise lamp chandelier.
  • Carbon Kopi in Hammersmith, where I spent far too long photographing the lights.
  • And finally, Caravan Exmouth Market and more fancy light fittings.
Let's get going with Brother Hubbard South in Duiblin, home to awesome coffee & lights!1 Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy is Witney is another with great coffee & lights!2 Next to Atlanta in the USA and Octane: Westside, because who doesn't love a glitter ball?3 Staying in the US with Fairgrounds Bucktown in Chicago, home of the Chemex lampshade.4 Staying in Chicagi with Intelligentsia, Wicker Park and more fancy light-fittings.5 Back to the UK and Notes, Trafalgar Square, home to the angle-poise lamp chandelier.6 The Press Room, Surbiton, where coffee comes in cups and in lights on the wall.7 Back in London with Notes, King's Cross and yes, another angle-poise lamp chandelier.8 Carbon Kopi in Hammersmith, where I spent far too long photographing the lights.9 And finally, Caravan Exmouth Market and more fancy light fittings.10
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There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

An excellent flat white, made with the Farmhand house-blend, and served in a classic blue cup at Brother Hubbard South.Brother Hubbard South

We’ll start in Dublin with Brother Hubbard South, a delightful brunch spot on the south side of the city, home to some awesome brass (or maybe copper) light-fittings that hang from the ceilings in both rooms. These kept me more than sufficiently distracted while I waited for my breakfast (which earned a spot on the Best Breakfast shortlist). You can also sit on the terrace, which earned a spot on the shortlist for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.

My flat white, made with the guest coffee, a washed El Salvador, and served at The Smithy, one of two Ue Coffee Roasters shops in Witney. I've drunk half of my flat white, which reveals Ue Coffee Roasters written on the inside rim of the cup.Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy

Moving on to Witney in Oxfordshire, where Ue Coffee Roasters has a lovely coffee shop in the delightful Old Smithy. However, it was the lights which caught my eye and won it a place on this shortlist, specifically the copper pipe light fittings that run around the walls and ceilings both upstairs and down. Ue Coffee was also shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.

My cortado, made with the Petunias house-blend, at Octane: Westside in Atlanta.Octane: Westside

Crossing the pond to Atlanta, Georgia, and Octane: Westside, another coffee shop with some impressive lighting. As well as the naked filament light bulbs hanging down over the bar, I was particularly taken by the glitter ball in the middle of the ceiling. Sadly, it was not in use during my (early morning) visit. Octane: Westside has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.

Fairgrounds, Craft Coffee & Tea | Taste One, Taste All, written on the back wall at the Bucktown location in Chicago.Fairgrounds Bucktown

Staying the USA, but moving on to Chicago (mirroring my last trip before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold), I was very taken with Fairgrounds, not least because of the Chemex lampshades. However, there were plenty more fancy light fittings to keep me amused as I pondered the spread of COVID-19. By the end of that day, I’d decided to come home. Fairgrounds is also on the shortlist for the Best Breakfast Award.

The latte art in my decaf cappuccino, served at Intelligentsia, Wicker Park in Chicago.Intelligentsia, Wicker Park

Staying in Chicago, Intelligentsia in Wicker Park was the last coffee shop I visited before I cut my trip short due to the pandemic. As well as enjoying the coffee, I was struck by the ceiling full of light fittings, which nicely distracted me from the fact that the Governor of Illinois had just announced that all bars, cafes and restaurants would close that evening…

A cortado, served in a glass (a rarity during COVID-19) at Notes, Trafalgar Square.Notes, Trafalgar Square

Back in the UK, Notes on St Martin’s Lane was the first coffee shop I had sat in for almost three months. While enjoying my cortado, I reacquainted myself with the lovely light fittings, including the angle-poise lamp chandelier. When I first wrote about Notes in 2013, there was no Best Lighting Award, so I’ve been unable to give it due credit until now. Notes is also on the Best Flat White and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award shortlists.

A shot of Origin's Resolute blend in a classic red cup in The Press Room, Surbiton.The Press Room, Surbiton

The same goes for the Press Room in Surbiton, which I also wrote about in 2013 before I’d started the Best Lighting Award. Here the coffee not only comes in cups, but it’s written in light bulbs along the wall! There’s also a lovely light bulb chandelier at the back, plus some beautiful lights over the counter. The Press Room is also on the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award shortlists.

Notes is back! Details of the online ordering system, displayed on every table at Notes, King's Cross.Notes, King’s Cross

Having put Notes, Trafalgar Square on the shortlist, I could hardly miss off Notes, King’s Cross, which has the same angle-poise lamp chandelier, as well as some gorgeous exposed bulbs on the ends of copper pipes. Ironically, when I first wrote about it in 2015, it was narrowly edged out of that year’s shortlist (the first time the Award had featured) by Notes in Crossrail Place. Notes is also shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Outdoor Seating Awards.

The Carbon Kopi logo from the sign above the door.Carbon Kopi

Staying in London, but over in Hammersmith, Carbon Kopi made an impact, not least for all its fabulous light fittings. I was particularly taken with the ones in the windows. And the ones hanging over the table at the back. Not to mention the reflections of the light bulbs in the glass domes at the counter… Carbon Kopi has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating and Best Espresso Awards.

The Caravan logo from the sign outside the original Exmouth Market branch.Caravan Exmouth Market

Our final entry on this year’s shortlist is also from London, the original Caravan at Exmouth Market to be precise. I remember being fascinated by the lighting on previous visits, going as far as to take the same pictures of the same light fittings, so this time I thought I should honour it with a place on the shortlist. Caravan has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Happiest Staff Awards.


And the winner is Ue Coffee Roasters at The Old Smithy
Runners-up: Caravan Exmouth Market and Carbon Kopi

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.


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9 thoughts on “2020 Awards – Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting

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