We kick off the third day of the 2020 Coffee Spot Awards with the shortlist for the “Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating” Award, celebrating all those wonderful Coffee Spots with excellent outdoor seating. This was won last year by Pavilion Café.
To qualify for this award, it’s not just a case of sticking a couple of tables or chairs on the pavement outside your coffee shop. Too often, what could be a lovely spot is marred by traffic noise, or cramped conditions, or just being in the wrong place. The best outside seating is often away from the road and passing pedestrians and offers shelter from the wind, rain and/or sun (although rarely all three at once!).
This is one shortlist which hasn’t been diminished by the COVID-19 pandemic. At first I thought that this was because lots of places had added outdoor seating, but actually all bar one of the Coffee Spots on the shortlist came into 2020 with some great outdoor seating!
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Let’s start out in Peoria with Driftwood Coffee Co. While occupying part of an industrial building, it has a lovely outdoor seating area at the front, complete with a neat roof and a water trough. Of course, it helps that the Arizona climate (at least when I visit) is ideally suited to sitting outside! Driftwood Coffee Co. is also on the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Passionate About Coffee shortlists.
Staying in the USA, Verve Coffee Roasters in Palo Alto is another blessed with the perfect outdoor climate, and this one is largely year round. It has a large indoor seating area and an even larger outdoor one. Sadly, both times I visited were at night! Verve Coffee Roasters is also on this year’s shortlist for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Flat White Awards.
We’re back in Arizona, in Phoenix, with the new coffee shop and roastery of old favourite, Press Coffee (which earns it a spot on the Best Roaster/ Retailer shortlist). It’s a beautiful space (earning it a spot on the Best Physical Space shortlist) with the coffee shop at the front, roastery at the back and mezzanine above, but it’s on this shortlist for the amazing outdoor seating area which sits under a lattice-work extension at the front of the building.
Moving across the Atlantic to Dublin, Brother Hubbard South has a large, enclosed outdoor seating area projecting out onto the broad pavement, sheltered by two massive umbrellas to keep off the occasional sun and more frequent rain. Brother Hubbard South has also earned a place on the shortlist for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award and Best Breakfast Awards.
In contrast to the previous entries, the outdoor seating at Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office is small, but perfect, just a raised, sheltered terrace looking out across the old castle moat, with space enough for a pair of tables. Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office is also on this year’s shortlist for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Roaster/ Retailer Awards.
Dancing Goats in Atlanta occupies a concrete shell of a building which, at its far end, is slightly lower than the street, which steadily slopes upwards. The result is the perfect outdoor seating area, with high walls providing shade from the sun and general protection from the busy street outside. Dancing Goats also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
The rest of this year’s shortlist is from the UK, starting with G!RO in Esher. G!RO maintains that important link between speciality coffee and cycling. When I first wrote about it in 2015, there were a handful of tables in front of the windows, but now it has a large outdoor seating area off to the right, set back and slightly above the busy street, accessed by either a ramp or steps.
The first of two entries from Reading, Coffee Under Pressure is hidden away to the north of Reading Minister. A wonderfully secluded spot, which is set away from the road, has the backdrop of the Minster for its outdoor seating. I was so impressed with this setting when I first visited in 2016 that Coffee Under Pressure made it onto that year’s shortlist too!
Staying in Reading, Tamp Culture is on the other side of the Minster from Coffee Under Pressure. Serving from a permanent outdoor kiosk, there are a handful of tables on the broad pavement behind the Oracle shopping centre, again with the Minster for a backdrop, where you can enjoy Tamp Culture’s range of single-origin coffees.
Beany Green on the South Bank of the Thames, at the foot of Hungerford Bridge, is another which, when I first wrote about it (this time in 2014) impressed me enough to make it onto that year’s Best Outdoor Seating shortlist. Since then it has considerably expanded its already considerable outdoor seating, making it the perfect spot for an outdoor coffee or, in the evenings, a beer or glass of wine.
I must confess, when I first wrote about Notes in 2015, I was more enamoured with its lovely mezzanine, but over the years, it’s sheltered outdoor seating on Pancras Square has grown on me, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic! Notes King’s Cross has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
Four Corners, on Lower Marsh in London, is the only entry on this year’s shortlist which didn’t come into 2020 with any outdoor seating. However, the semi-pedestrianisation of Lower Marsh has enabled it to add a couple of tables and some chairs outside the windows, turning it into a rather lovely summer spot. Four Corners has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
Moving up to Liverpool, Root Coffee has a lovely outdoor seating area which makes the most of the pedestrianised Hanover Street. Root Coffee has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Espresso Award.
Back in London, but this time out in Hammersmith, Carbon Kopi has not one, but two outdoor seating areas, either of which would be enough to get it onto this year’s shortlist. The smaller front seating area is nice enough, but it was the sheltered back yard that really stole my heart. Carbon Kopi also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting and Best Espresso Awards.
The final entry is Heartwork Coffee Bar, which has already been shortlisted for three Awards this year (Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot, Best Takeaway Coffee and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot). However, it also deserves a spot on this shortlist for its wonderful farmyard setting, including two open barns, standing tables and lots and lots of straw bales.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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