2020 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

Detail of the wall art in Kafi, Fitzrovia, showing small white flowers on a plain background.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Kafi. In past year’s, this has been a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

This year’s Award is slightly different in that I’ve narrowed the criteria to be those Coffee Spots whose response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been outstanding in some way.

You can see the shortlist after the gallery.

  • The Flower Cup in Chester, leading the way in terms of opening safely during COVID-19.
  • Canopy Coffee, making the shift from sit-in coffee shop to takeaway operation.
  • Notes, Trafalgar Square, where I sat in a coffee shop for the first time in three months.
  • The Press Room, Surbiton, another leading the way in terms of opening safely.
  • And a third entry in a similar vein, Kaffeine in London.
  • Quarter Horse Coffee, Birmingham, making the most of the opportunities of being closed.
  • The Collective, Caversham, opening for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Glasgow Coffee Festival, taking the festival to the people.
The Flower Cup in Chester, leading the way in terms of opening safely during COVID-19.1 Canopy Coffee, making the shift from sit-in coffee shop to takeaway operation.2 Notes, Trafalgar Square, where I sat in a coffee shop for the first time in three months.3 The Press Room, Surbiton, another leading the way in terms of opening safely.4 And a third entry in a similar vein, Kaffeine in London.5 Quarter Horse Coffee, Birmingham, making the most of the opportunities of being closed.6 The Collective, Caversham, opening for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.7 Glasgow Coffee Festival, taking the festival to the people.8
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There are eight Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

Detail from a drawing of a wreath of the wall of The Flower Cup, a Botanical Coffee Shop in Chester.The Flower Cup

Let’s get started in Chester with The Flower Cup. I was very impressed with the way The Flower Cup adapted to re-opening during the pandemic, from the clever use of putting plants on chairs to ensure social distancing, to the serving of takeaway customers from the door so that they didn’t have to come inside. The Flower Cup has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast and Best Flat White Awards.

A sight for sore eyes: the A-board proclaiming that Canopy Coffee is now open after almost three months of enforced closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.Canopy Coffee

Canopy Coffee in my hometown of Guildford reopened as a takeaway coffee shop in May, transforming the shop and its work flow along the way. You can read more about the steps Canopy took in this article, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions. Canopy Coffee had also made it onto the shortlists for this year’s Best Takeaway Coffee and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

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

In July, I sat in a coffee shop for the first time in three months and I don’t think I could have made a better choice than Notes on St Martin’s Lane. I was very impressed with steps Notes had taken, particularly the on-line ordering app (this shortlist entry applies equally to Notes, King’s Cross, by the way). Notes (Trafalgar Square) has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.

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

Another that has impressed me with the way it handled the requirements of reopening during the pandemic was The Press Room in Surbiton, from its door control policy down to its separation of takeaway customers from those in the shop. The Press Room has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.

My espresso, made with Square Mile's Red Brick blend, and served in a classic black cup at Kaffeine on Great Titchfield Street.Kaffeine

Back in London and staying with familiar themes of door control and dealing with takeaway customers, it’s Kaffeine (and, by extension, Kaffeine Eastcastle). It’s also the attention to detail and the little things, like bottles of hand sanitiser on each table and a list of what to do/not to do. Kaffeine has also been shortlisted for this year’s Happiest Staff Award.

The 15 kg Giesen roaster at Quarter Horse, Birmingham.Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters

Moving on to Birmingham and to Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters, which made the most of the enforced shutdown over the summer to remodel the coffee shop and attached roastery. This shortlist entries applies equally to the roastery and coffee shop side of the business, where it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into keeping people safe during the pandemic. Quarter Horse has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.

The latte art in my flat white, made with Extract's Rocket Espresso, at The Collective in Caversham.The Collective

Next on the shortlist is The Collective in Caversham and represents a slight change in emphasis. The Collective is on the shortlist largely in recognition that it chose to open for the first time in the middle of the pandemic. Opening a new coffee shop is a stressful business at the best of times, but this year it has been even worse. The Collective has also been shortlisted for the Best Breakfast and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.

The Glasgow Coffee Festival 2020 logoGlasgow Coffee Festival

The final entry on the shortlist is also something a little different. Plenty of coffee festivals were simply cancelled this year, or moved onto online presentations. Not the Glasgow Coffee Festival. With the people unable to come to the festival, the festival went to the people, moving to the streets and coffee shops of Glasgow. The Glasgow Coffee Festival has also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement Award.


And the winner is Kaffeine
Runners-up: Canopy Coffee and The Press Room, Surbiton

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


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8 thoughts on “2020 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

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