Welcome to the final 2021 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2020 by Bean & Cole. Despite what it says on the tag line, the Coffee Spot’s not all about the coffee. After all, what would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this Award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.
This is another of my favourite Awards and I was treated to some absolutely fantastic cake this year, with a strong showing from various bakery/cafés this year alongside some excellent coffee shop cakes.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
The first coffee and cake pairing on this year’s shortlist is from Intelligentsia in Venice (Los Angeles, not Italy) where I had the apple and caramel pie. Consisting of big chunks of apple in a pastry case, with crumble on top, it was as awesome as I expected it to be (and I had high expectations). Intelligentsia also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.
The second entry brings us to London and Electric Coffee Co. on Goldhawk Road. I had a slice of carrot cake, which was rich and moist, with a creamy, but not sickly, cream cheese topping. Often carrot cake can be disappointing, but this was sublime, perfectly filling that mid-afternoon gap between lunch and dinner. Electric Coffee Co. is also shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
From London to Wheatley, just outside Oxford, the home of Bruin Café. I had a wonderfully sticky bun known as a Pecan Mess. This gorgeous concoction is in the style of a Chelsea bun with a wonderfully sticky (and messy) glaze, and was the perfect companion to my coffee (which got Bruin Café a place of this year’s shortlist for the Best Filter Coffee Award). Bruin Café has also been shortlisted for the Most Passionate About Coffee Award.
Medicine, a chance discovery on New Street in Birmingham, occupies an ex-art gallery, which explains why it’s on the shortlist for the Best Physical Space Award. A coffee shop as well as a bakery, I had the Frangipane Bakewell, a slice of brioche with a frangipane on top, like a frangipane cherry Bakewell. It was excellent, with a rich, brioche base and fruity topping with a custard-like bit in the middle which I particularly enjoyed.
Chester’s Kookaburra Bakehouse is the latest venture from last year’s winners, Bean & Cole, in partnership with Jess, who does all the baking. .Amanda and I tried (almost) all the cake: cinnamon twist, raspberry Danish, Anzac biscuit, and, the best of them all, the Nutella cruffin, made with the perfect croissant dough, filled with Nutella and baked in a muffin tin. Kookaburra is also shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
From Chester, our next stop is Prestatyn and Caffeina Coffi, where Amanda and I had the last pecan and salted sticky toffee bun. Put simply, it was amazing, with a really chewy, sticky dough and loads of pecans, while the toffee added a lovely sweetness without making it sickly sweet. Caffeina Coffi has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso, Best Physical Space and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
This is the original Medicine bakery/cafe in Codsall, where Amanda and I had a pair of awesome breakfasts (good enough for a place on the Best Breakfast Award), followed by some equally awesome cakes, a strawberries and cream cruffin and a snickers cronut. Both were excellent, the croissant dough being rich and chewy, although the cream in the strawberries and cream cruffin edged out the cronut in the final analysis.
Staying with the theme of bakery/cafes, I had a superb cinnamon roll at Lockdown Bakehouse. With a rich, chewy dough, it was sweet without being either sickly or too sticky, and with just enough cinnamon that it wasn’t overpowering. Lockdown Bakehouse has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Outdoor Seating Awards.
The fifth bakery/cafe on this year’s Best Cake shortlist is Balham’s Dee Light Bakery. Despite Dee Light’s obvious Australian roots, I had a classic Bakewell tart, which was sweet, with a crumbly pastry base and soft, moist sponge, the perfect companion to my coffee. Dee Light Bakery has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
Just a few doors down (for now) from the Dee Light Bakery is Knead a Little Love, a coffee shop and doughnut bakery, specialising in vegan doughnuts. Naturally I had to try one, settling on rhubarb and ginger. It was lovely, the rich dough of the doughnut pairing perfectly with the rhubarb and ginger filling. Knead a Little Love is also on the shortlist for the Happiest Staff Award.
The final two entries come from the USA, starting with Speckled Ax in Portland, Maine, where Amanda and I had an apple and maple (American) scone. American scones are often too dry for me, but this one was perfect, being moist and sweet. We paired this with a pair of cappuccinos, good enough to earn Speckled Ax a place on the shortlist for the Best Flat White Award. Speckled Ax has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
This year’s final entry is La Colombe,opposite Boston South Station (earning it a place on the shortlist for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award). I treated myself to a blueberry muffin, which was lovely, rich and moist, the perfect companion to my coffee.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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