I present the final shortlist of the day, which is for another of my favourite Coffee Spot Awards, that of “Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff”. Last year it was won by Ngopi. In my opinion, staff are probably the most over-looked part of any Coffee Spot. Good staff can make a place and bad staff, no matter how great the coffee and wonderful the location, can kill a place.
Everywhere that features in the Coffee Spot has great staff, but these were exceptional, with some infectiously happy staff. However, this award isn’t just for happy staff; it’s for any staff who go that extra mile to make their coffee shop a special place.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Let’s start in Atlanta, back at the start of March. Amanda and I had just arrived in town and Octane: Westside was our first stop. As well as reviving us with coffee, the friendly staff were happy to provide a list of recommendations for other coffee shops we should try out. Octane: Westside has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
One of the benefits of this year is that I’ve been able to spend more time visiting my local coffee shops, including Krema Coffee, which, since reopening in June this year, has been one of my regular haunts, usually for a flat white to go (which is why it’s on the shortlist for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award). However, as well as the consistently good coffee, the other constant has been the cheery welcome from the staff. Krema Coffee is also on the Most Popular Coffee Spot shortlist.
Another of my regular haunts is Koja by Surrey Hills Coffee, which took on the mantle of Surrey Hills Coffee on Jeffries Passage in Guildford. As well as more excellent flat whites to go (again, good enough to make the shortlist for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award), Koja is another place where you get a warm welcome from the staff. Koja has also been shortlisted for the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
I’ve been a fan of Panna (and owners Ivana and Peter) ever since I first visited Panna in Liverpool at the end of 2015. I caught up with them once they’d successfully relocated Panna to Chester last year, but when I called in this year, I missed them and their warm welcome. However, I need not have worried, since I was just as well looked after by the rest of the staff. Panna has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
If there’s one place where you should be able to rely on happy staff and a warm welcome, it’s Party on Pavilion in London. Making the most of the warm weather, the party spilled out onto the pavement of Pavilion Street this summer, but whether you were inside or out, the infectious Roasting Party attitude is always present.
We’re staying in London for the rest of the shortlist, starting with Kaffeine. In my dealings with Peter and the Kaffeine crew over the years, one thing that’s stood out is the staff’s professionalism and their willingness to go the extra mile. This has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they’ve taken everything that’s been thrown at them with a smile. Kaffeine is also shortlisted for Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
Having included Kaffeine on the shortlist, I could hardly not include Kaffeine Eastcastle, particularly as the manager on the day of my visit was one of the staff who served me when I was at Kaffeine a month before! Arguably, due to its location, Eastcastle has had an even harder 2020 than the original on Great Titchfield Street.
I loved the quirky, interconnected little spaces that make up Attendant in Clerkenwell, so much so that it’s been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award. However, just as impressive were the friendly, helpful and welcoming staff. Attendant Clerkenwell is also on this year’s shortlist for the Best Espresso Award.
Over Under Coffee, Earl’s Court
Another quirky spot is the original Over Under Coffee opposite Earl’s Court station, where, once again, the staff were outstanding. Over Under Coffee has also been shortlisted for this year’s Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Awards.
Our final entry is another original, Caravan Exmouth Market. I’ve always liked the Exmouth Market Caravan, partly because it is the smallest of them all, giving it a more intimate feel. Despite all the COVID-19 restrictions, it still felt very much like the Caravan of old, a huge testament to the staff. Caravan has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
And the winner is Party on Pavilion
Runners-up: Krema Coffee and Kaffeine Eastcastle
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2020.
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