Coffee Spots come in all shapes and sizes, but for some reason I have a real soft spot for small Coffee Spots. Last year the “Smallest Coffee Spot” Award was won by Over Under Coffee, West Brompton.
This year I have once again been blessed by some very small Coffee Spots, serving some very fine coffee. As in previous years, this Award is entirely subjective: no Coffee Spots were measured during the judging process! This is one of the few Awards where I could have filled the shortlist over again: the world seems full of lots of really lovely, small, Coffee Spots. Note that I have excluded places where there’s no physical coffee shop to go inside.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Cable Co., The Aircraft Factory
Occupying a small, glass-walled coffee shop at the entrance to The Aircraft Factory in Hammersmith, there’s not a lot to Cable Co. That doesn’t stop it from serving some excellent Climpson and Sons on espresso, backed up by a selection of pastries and cakes. Cable Co. has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Takeaway Coffee and Best Flat White Awards.
Sarah’s Leytonstone is an offshoot of the B-Tempted bakery, serving coffee, cakes and good cheer from the front of the railway arch that houses the bakery. The set-up is a relatively simple with a pair of tables on the quiet side street in front of the arch, while inside there’s just enough space for a neat counter with the espresso machine, till, cakes and, of course, Sarah herself. Sarah’s Leytonstone is also on the Most Popular Coffee Spot shortlist.
Espresso Quarter is the latest addition to the Espresso Station family, which opened in March 2020 in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Fittingly, it occupies an old jeweller’s shop, complete with the safe still built into the wall, where the stock was kept overnight. It’s a pretty small spot, with a couple of tables outside on the pavement and limited interior seating.
Nostos Coffee opened in May, occupying a small, quirky space next to Battersea Park station (earning a place on the the shortlist for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award). Despite its small size, it has an impressive coffee offering, with Kiss the Hippo and Ue Coffee Roasters providing contrasting options on espresso (good enough for a place on the Best Espresso Award shortlist). Nostos Coffee is also on the Happiest Staff Award shortlist.
Chester’s Kookaburra Bakehouse, which opened in July this year, is the latest venture from Bean & Cole, in partnership with Jess, who does the baking in the kitchen upstairs (and whose cakes earned a place on the Best Cake shortlist). It’s a tiny place, principally catering to the takeaway trade, although there are a couple of bars offering limited inside seating, where you can sit and chat with whoever is behind the counter.
Rumdoodles, on the High Street in Llanberis, made the transition to takeaway-only service during the COVID-19 pandemic, earning it a spot on the shortlist for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award. Effectively a coffee kiosk inside an outdoor shop, it was a cosy coffee shop in its own right, but now serves the ubiquitous Landmark seasonal blend from Heartland Coffee Roasters and a selection of cakes to allcomers.
Marmalade is a delightful coffee shop opposite the old town hall on Holywell Hight Street. Serving Dark Woods Coffee and a lovely breakfast and lunch menu (with the food prepared to order in the kitchen at the back), there’s not a lot to Marmalade, with just enough space for a couple of tables and window bars. Marmalade has also been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
Wrexham’s Bank Street Social is a small spot, but it packs a lot in. As well as some excellent Neighbourhood Coffee, there’s the wonderful lighting, which has earned Bank Street Social a place on the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting shortlist. And, to round things off, Bank Street Social has also been shortlisted for the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.
Mycloud Coffee in Sunningdale is another, like Rumdoodles, which was a cosy little coffee shop in its own right. It then reinvented itself as a takeaway coffee shop in reaction to COVID-19, enabling it to stay open throughout the pandemic. Mycloud Coffee also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Filter Coffee and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Awards.
Lockdown Bakehouse in Wandsworth is a bakery which opened not long after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Lockdown Bakehouse has expanded and evolved to meet the pandemic’s growing challenges, turning itself into a neat cafe with an equally neat outdoor seating area in front of the bakery (which has also seen it on the Best Outdoor Seating shortlist). Lockdown Bakehouse has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Another coffee shop which opened just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Communion Coffee has a simple offering of quality coffee and baked goods in an equally simple space, with room for a communal table and a window-bar. Communion Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Awards.
The original Little Yellow Pig in Hoole was a tiny affair before it expanded into the shop next door. Nantwich channels that original vibe, a cosy spot offering the same winning formula of excellent food and great coffee from Hundred House Coffee. Little Yellow Pig is also on the Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Best Breakfast shortlists.
Occupying one of several old barns at Bramley Hedge Farm, The Roastery at Cobham is both a roastery (as the name would suggest) and a coffee shop. Although the space is quite big, once you’ve accounted for the roastery, what’s left is a cosy (and toasty) coffee shop, the ideal spot for watching the roastery at work. The Roastery at Cobham is also on this year’s Best Roaster/Retailer Award shortlist.
This is the second of two locations for Tintico, following on from the original in Finchley. Located in the heart of Soho, it follows in the best traditions of that area’s small coffee shops, with a compact little space that used to be a clothes shop. Its lack of size hasn’t stopped it from producing some excellent coffee, good enough for a spot on this year’s shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.
Rounding off this year’s shortlist is Little Woodfords in Portland, Maine. It used to occupy a spacious, light-filled spot in the Woodfords neighbourhood but has since relocated downtown to a much smaller space, although it’s retained its warm welcome and community-orientated spirit, so much so that it’s also shortlisted for this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award and the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
Lily London, Guildford
Hatch @ Hazel & Haydn
Bean & Leaf Coffee House
Lily London, Shard
Peregrine Espresso, Eastern Market
And the winner is Tintico, Greek Street
Runners-up: Rumdoodles and Espresso Quarter
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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