Next up today, the 2020 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Pražírna Kavárna. One of the most important things for me is how a Coffee Spot looks and feels. This, to me, is just as important as the coffee.
This award celebrates those Coffee Spots in which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in. It’s not just about physical beauty and elegance. Instead, it’s as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel.
You can see who is on the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Let’s begin in Phoenix, with the new coffee shop and roastery of old favourite, Press Coffee (which made it onto the Best Roaster/ Retailer shortlist). It’s a beautiful space with the coffee shop at the front, roastery at the back and a particularly lovely mezzanine above. It also has an amazing outdoor seating area which sits under a lattice-work extension at the front of the building, getting it onto the Best Outdoor Seating shortlist too!
From modern to (relatively) old, as we head over to Prague and Coffee and Riot, which occupies a pair of small, inter-connected rooms (small enough for Coffee and Riot to be shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award). These have a basement-like feel (hence a place on the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement shortlist), the second of which is particularly lovely, which is why it’s here.
Kiss the Hippo’s flagship coffee shop/roastery is right in the heart of Richmond on George Street. Spread over two floors, I liked both downstairs (where you’ll find the counter and, behind a glass wall at the back, the roastery) and the upstairs, which I was particularly taken with. Kiss the Hippo is also on this year’s shortlist for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
One of three Ue Coffee Roasters’ coffee shops in Witney (counting the cafe/kitchen at the roastery) this one is spread over two floors in The Old Smithy. No-one seems to know exactly how old The Old Smithy is (I suspect several hundred years), but it’s lovely, particularly the upstairs. The Old Smithy has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Back in Prague, The Miners Coffee and Characters had only just opened in Vinohrady when I visited. It’s an interesting space, with an entry lobby area, the counter off to the left and the main seating ahead of you at the top of a broad flight of stairs. It has a minimalist, Scandi-inspired feel to it.
I’ve always liked Quarter Horse Coffee’s space in Birmingham, which got an honourable mention in the Awards when I first wrote about it in 2015. Over the summer, it got a complete makeover, which, in my opinion, just made it even better, cleverly breaking up a single space into multiple, cosy ones. Quarter Horse Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Best Espresso Awards (thanks to an awesome tasting flight).
Staying in Birmingham, Wayland’s Yard is another large space, cleverly split up into smaller spaces, with lounge-style seating at the front, while the back holds more tables and chairs. It’s had a makeover since my first visit and I particularly enjoyed the addition of the booth on the left-hand side, just before the counter. Wayland’s Yard has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Breakfast Awards.
Our next entry takes us to Chester and Obscure Coffee, which is split over two rooms, neither of which is very big. If you are claustrophobic, you might want to stick to the bright, well-lit front room, where a makeover of the tables has led to a lot more seating. However, my favourite, by far, is the small, cosy, windowless back room. Obscure Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
At the other end of the scale, the Ceylon House of Coffee opened this summer on Guildford High Street. Large and well-appointed, it’s a lovely spot, designed to reflect the 19th century coffee houses of Colombo, when Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was a major coffee grower and exporter. Ceylon House of Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Moving up to Liverpool, 92 Degrees occupies a large bright, high-ceilinged space in an Art-Deco building dating from 1931 that was built as part of the School for the Blind. With its armchairs and sofas, it’s the sort of coffee shop that you could easily lose yourself in for an afternoon. Or possibly longer…
Queens of Mayfair is the second entry on this year’s shortlist which opened this year. Located in the heart of Mayfair, it oozes opulence, its fixtures and fittings in keeping with a high-end appeal which boasts the UK’s most expensive cup of coffee (although it’s a lot more than that). Queens of Mayfair has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Our final entry sees us staying in London with Attendant Clerkenwell at the top of Leather Lane, one of three (for now) Attendants. A lovely, quirky, irregularly-shaped spot with gloriously high ceilings, I particularly loved the five-sided back room where I spent most of my time. Attendant Clerkenwell has also made it onto this year’s shortlist for the Best Espresso and Happiest Staff Awards.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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