First up today, the 2020 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Wood St Coffee Roastery. Initially, this award was only open to retailers, but in 2014, I expanded it to include roasters, who now dominate the award. Contenders have either appeared in the Meet the Roaster series or are cafe/roasters which I’ve visited during the year.
Although the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink the majority of my coffee at home, so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention. The problem, as with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, by-and-large, to stick to either roasters I’ve written about as roasters or coffee shops where the beans are roasted on site.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Chromatic Coffee Roastery Cafe
Let’s start the shortlist in the same way that I started the year, with a visit to Chromatic Coffee in San Jose, where there was a new cafe in the roastery. I’ve written about Chromatic Coffee as a roaster before, but since the cafe was actually in the roastery, it gets a spot on this shortlist. Chromatic Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
Moving one state over/down, we find ourselves in Mesa, Arizona, home of Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea. Pair roasts a range of single-origins, with the owner, Kimhak, running the coffee bar in the morning and roasting on a 500g capacity, gas-fired roaster in the afternoon! Pair Specialty Coffee & Tea has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee and Most Passionate About Coffee Awards.
Staying in Arizona, but this time in Phoenix, say hello to Press Coffee. I’ve long been a fan, but this is the first time I’ve been able to visit the new coffee shop/roastery, where you can stand on the steps to the mezzanine and see all three roasters in action at the back of the building. Press Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating and Best Physical Space Awards.
We’re back in the UK (London to be precise) for the next entry, Kiss the Hippo, which is another coffee shop/roastery, this time with the roaster visible at the back of the shop through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall. This is where Kiss the Hippo produces its George St espresso blend and a range of single-origins for both espresso and filter. Kiss the Hippo has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.
Our next stop is Prague and the charming Dos Mundos Coffee Roastery, another combined coffee shop and roastery. Located in Vinohrady, Dos Mundos occupies a pair of adjoining rooms, the seating on the right, while on the left you’ll find the counter and the roastery, with the roaster, a lovely-looking 6 kg Giesen, taking pride of place in the window.
We’re back in the US, but this time on the east coast in Portland, Maine, home of Tandem Coffee. I first wrote about Tandem in 2015, but since then the roaster has been upgraded (twice) and the roastery moved from the main building (where it shared the space with a coffee counter) to a dedicated building at the back.
Back in the UK, Ue Coffee Roasters is the country’s only wood-fired speciality coffee roaster, although it has expanded considerably over the years, recently adding a cafe/kitchen in the space at the front of the roastery, as well as adding a new, gas-fired 30 kg Giesen to help expand Ue Coffee’s range of single-origin speciality coffees. Ue Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office
Moving over to Japan, Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office is a lovely place, already on the shortlists for the Best Outdoor Seating and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards. However, it’s also a roastery, with the roaster, a 6 kg Giesen tucked in downstairs beside the counter. There’s always something special, sitting next to the roaster that has produced your coffee.
Talking of which, our next entry is from Georgia, Atlanta, where Firelight Coffee Roasters is a lovely, in-house coffee bar in the Strongbox West co-working space. It also happens to be the roastery, with a small Ambex roaster sitting at the far end of the room. Firelight has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
Coming back to the UK and right back to my neck of the woods, Surrey Hills Coffee is literally within (a few hours’) walking distance of my house! It’s even closer to the house of owners Chris and Monika, since Chris built a bespoke shed in the garden for his gas-fired 10 kg Toper. Of all the roasteries I’ve visited, it probably has the best views (although Carvetii Coffee Roasters comes a close second).
I first visited Ngopi, in Birmingham, last year. It stands out since it deals exclusively in coffee from Indonesia, roasting only single-origins on a small 1 kg roaster (imported from Indonesia) that sits proudly in the window. Other than the usual COVID-19 restrictions, nothing much has changed this year, with both coffee shop and roastery still going strong.
Returning to my hometown of Guildford, the Ceylon House of Coffee opened this summer. Like Ngopi, it deals exclusively in coffee from one country, in this case, Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon). However, it goes one step further in that it owns its own coffee plantation on the island, bringing farm-to-cup coffee to Guildford. The Ceylon House of Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Returning to Birmingham, Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters has long been one of my favourites, operating out of a dual unit south of the centre, with a coffee shop on one side and roaster on the other. During the COVID-19 shutdown, both the coffee shop and roastery have been remodelled, the roastery now totally enclosed in its own separate room. Quarter Horse has also been shortlisted for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
Moving up to Chester, Jaunty Goat is another which has undergone a number of changes, including a new, meat-free menu and a refurbishment of the basement-like coffee shop (earning it a place on the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement shortlist). However, what’s got Jaunty Goat on this shortlist is that it has started roasting its own coffee (which is good enough for a spot on the Best Filter Coffee shortlist).
Our final entry is Catalyst, another coffee shop/roastery, with the coffee shop upstairs and the roastery downstairs in the basement (which is why Catalyst was shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award). You can see the 12 kg Diedrich through glass panels in the floor of the coffee shop and, if you’re like me, you’re going to want to sit on one of the seats that is right on top of it!
And the winner is Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters
Runners-up: Tandem Coffee and Surrey Hills Coffee
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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