We kick off the third day of the 2021 Coffee Spot Awards with the shortlist for the “Coffee Spot with the Best Outdoor Seating” Award, celebrating all those wonderful Coffee Spots with excellent outdoor seating. This was won last year by Carbon Kopi.
To qualify for this award, it’s not just a case of sticking a couple of tables or chairs on the pavement outside your coffee shop. Too often, what could be a lovely spot is marred by traffic noise, or cramped conditions, or just being in the wrong place. The best outside seating is often away from the road and passing pedestrians and offers shelter from the wind, rain and/or sun (although rarely all three at once!).
Fortunately, there are plenty of Coffee Spots which do exactly that and this is another award that I could have filled many times over, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many coffee shops improving their outdoor seating.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Espresso Farm, part of the Espresso Station group, a regional chain of five coffee shops, occupies an old building on Umberslade Farm Park. Surrounded by the Warwickshire countryside, it’s a lovely setting, with seats out front in the farmyard, out back in the garden and dotted around the farm. Espresso Farm has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
The Green Wood Café is in Coalbrookedale, a narrow, steep-sided valley which leads into Ironbridge Gorge. There’s a small indoor area, but the real draw is the outdoor seating, including a patio at the back, a row of self-contained gazebos (open front and back) and tables in the adjacent orchard. Then there’s the awesome all-day brunch menu, which earned The Green Wood Café a place on the shortlist for the Best Breakfast Award.
Located on a quiet street in a residential part of London, The Coffee Traveller is in a row of eight terrace houses with shops on the ground floor. Its lovely, quirky interior and excellent light fittings won it a place on the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting shortlist, but best of all is the secret garden at the back, a wonderfully relaxing spot, the perfect place to sit and sip your coffee.
Located on an industrial estate in Merrow, The Old Roastery Coffee Shop is much nicer than it sounds. While the interior is really neat (it used to be the roastery for Redber Coffee Roasters), the outdoor seating is even neater. There’s a pair of tables in front of the coffee shop, while on the other side of the yard is a more extensive (and surprisingly green) outdoor seating area. The Old Roastery Coffee Shop is also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Coffee shop by day, and bar by night, Parkgate’s Elephant Lounge is in an old pub, which has a lovely interior at the front, while at the back is the sunken beer garden. There’s a range of seating out here, all sheltered from the sun (and rain) by large umbrellas. Elephant Lounge has also been shortlisted fot this year’s Best Physical Space Award.
Open Grounds Café is one of the surprising number of speciality coffee shops which sprung up in Guildford during the COVID-19 pandemic, opening almost exactly a year ago. Part of Guildford Baptist Church, it’s best feature is the large, raised terrace in front of the church which has eight tables and an array of umbrellas for shade. Open Grounds is also shortlisted for the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award and the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Sam’s Coffee, run by the legendary Sam Towil (founder of Bold Street Coffee), is inside Gales of Llangollen, a family-run wine bar, restaurant and 15-room hotel, all housed in a 17th century townhouse with an amazing outdoor seating area in the courtyard at the back. Sam’s Coffee is also on the shortlists for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot, Most Passionate About Coffee and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Staying in Llangollen, Riverbanc is just across the street from Sam’s Coffee. Occupying the old Midland Bank building, it’s a speciality coffee shop, small hotel and outdoor activity centre. Perhaps the best part is the large terrace at the back, which overlooks the roaring River Dee. Riverbanc has also been shortlisted for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Best Breakfast Awards.
Returning to Guildford, the Hideaway is another recent addition, opening this spring. Tucked away inside the walled gardens of Guildford’s Allen House Grounds, there’s a lovely terrace that runs along the front of the cafe, with views across Guildford to the Hog’s Back in the distance. The Hideaway is also shortlisted for this year’s Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award and the Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
Another recent opening (April this year) but this time in London, Lantern Coffee is on the ground floor of the Little London co-working space. It has access to the large, sheltered interior courtyard, overlooked by the offices, artists’ studios and flats which it shares the building (an old biscuit factory) with. Lantern Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee Award.
Another recent opening (March this year) but this time in Chester, Garden Social Coffee House occupies an old corner shop. As well as a bright and airy interior, there’s a sheltered outside seating area in the backyard. Garden Social Coffee House has is also on the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award shortlists.
The original Gentlemen Baristas, the Borough coffee shop has always been a special place, particularly the lovely, shetered (not so) secret rooftop garden at the back. It might be small, but it’s one of the best places for coffee in London (as long as it’s sunny!). The Gentlemen Baristas has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Flat White Award.
Caffi Caban makes the most of its surroundings in the Snowdonia countryside with a large, multi-level terrace overlooking a sheltered garden (which allowed me to squeeze it onto the shortlist for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award). There’s a range of tables, plus individual open-fronted cabins, all beneath several towering trees. Caffi Caban is also on the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot shortlist.
A product of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockdown Bakehouse is just that, a bakery, which opened not long after the start of the pandemic. Since then, Lockdown Bakehouse has expanded as it’s evolved to meet the pandemic’s challenges, including turning itself into a neat cafe with an equally neat outdoor seating area in front of the bakery. Lockdown Bakehouse has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Cake Awards.
Frontside Coffee Roasters was a chance discovery in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, earning it a place on the shortlist for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award. It has an excellent, wrap-around coffee garden, which is why it’s on this shortlist. Finally, Frontside Coffee Roasters is also shortlisted for Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
Lily London, Guildford
Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar
Medicine New Street
Java Roastery, Moseley Village
Story Coffee, Wandsworth
Dee Light Bakery
Knead a Little Love
Mini Beans Coffee
Alma Coffee Roastery
Peregrine Espresso, Eastern Market
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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