The second of today’s 2021 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists is for the “Best Flat White” Award, which was won last year by The Flower Cup.
Although I love black coffee, espresso with milk is very much its own thing. This award recognises those who have produced the perfect blend of coffee and milk with the smoothest, silkiest flat white (although awesome cortados, cappuccinos, etc, also qualify). This year there’s been a particularly strong showing by various decaf flat whites, while an oat milk flat white has made the shortlist as well.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Cable Co., The Aircraft Factory
Let’s get things underway with Cable Co in the Aircraft Factory in Hammersmith, where I had a delicious flat white made with Climpson and Sons decaf, along with Estate Dairy milk. Although things are improving, there are still some quarters where decaf is viewed as second class, so I’m delighted to be leading off with a decaf this year. Cable Co has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot and Best Takeaway Coffee Awards.
Staying in Hammersmit, the Coffee Station was a chance discovery opposite my hotel. Coffee Station has a wonderful interior, where the look and feel reminded me of Curio Espresso and Vintage Design in Kanazawa (which earned it a spot on this year’s shortlist fo the Best Physical Space Award). However, it’s on this shortlist as a result of the lovely flat white (caffeinated this time) that I had, made with Ozone’s flagship Empire Blend.
Heading north, we find ourselves in Heswall in the Wirral, at Wylde Coffee. A self-styled Scandinavian-inspired bistro, Wylde Coffee serves a bespoke house blend roasted by old friends, Neighbourhood Coffee, with regular guests on batch brew/pour-over. I tried the house blend in a flat white and it was excellent!
Back in Bermondsey, London, WatchHouse opened its dedicated roastery and café in a railway arch on Maltby Street in August 2020. Watchhouse has been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award, while the café is a stunningly beautiful place (winning it a place on the shortlist for the Best Physical Space Award), but it’s on this shortlist for the flat white I had, made with 1829, a naturally-processed single-origin from Brazil.
I’m always in awe of people who can produce excellent coffee in small places, which is why Hatch (operating from a window in the Hazel & Haydn hair salon in Birmingham) has been shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award. That coffee, a flat white made with the Dark Horse blend from nearby Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters, was also good enough for a place on this shortlist. Hatch is also shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
Carrying on northwards, we come to Chester and Ginger Monkey Number 31, a lovely coffee and brunch spot in Saltney, just to the east of the city centre. I had a classic flat white in a glass, made with the Trio blend from the local Crosby Coffee Roasters. Ginger Monkey Number 31 has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Breakfast Award.
Talking about carrying on northwards, Mikki Refur, in Reykjavik, is one of the most northerly coffee shops I’ve ever visited. A recently opened coffee shop and wine bar, Mikki Refur using local roaster, Kvörn, which provided the washed Colombian single-origin that Amanda and I had in our flat whites. Mikki Refur has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
Talking of the most northerly coffee shop I’ve ever visited, that honour goes to Reykjavik’s Kaffi Ó-le (sadly there’s no Award for it). Another newcomer, Kaffi Ó-le uses local roaster Kaffibrugghúsið, who provided the washed Ethiopian from the Benti Nenqa washing station in the Guji region that I had both as an espresso (and which got Kaffi Ó-le on the shortlist for the Best Espresso Award) and in a flat white, which got a place on this shortlist.
Back in the UK, I visited Jaunty Goat’s second coffee shop on Chester’s Northgate Street. The new Jaunty Goat is completely vegan, right down to there being no dairy option for the milk-based coffees. Talking of which, I had a decaf flat white (the coffee roasted in-house), made with Oato oat milk. The least oat-tasting oat milk I’ve had, it made a really rich, smooth flat white Jaunty Goat is also on the Most Passionate About Coffee shortlist.
The Gentlemen Baristas Borough
This is the original Gentlemen Baristas coffee house in Borough, where I went to check out the (not so) secret roof garden, which earned itself a place on the shortlist for the Best Outdoor Seating Award. While I was there, I had a flat white, made with the ordering a flat white, made with the Deerstalker blend, which combined perfectly with the milk to produce a lovely, smooth flat white.
Staying in London, Earlsfield’s The Eclectic Collection has an amazing, eclectic interior design (good enough for a place on the Best Physical Space shortlist). This extends to the light fittings and the “let’s misbehave” signs in pink neon, which got it on the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting shortlist. However, it’s on this shortlist for the flat white that I had, made with The Barn’s seasonal espresso (the Vista Hermosa from Guatemala).
The final entry on this shortlist sees us in the USA at the new (to me) Speckled Ax on Thames Street in Portland, Maine. Amanda and I had cappuccinos. made with the honey-processed El Cedro from Honduras. They were smooth and sweet, coffee and milk in perfect harmony, producing classic chocolate notes (Amanda’s verdict: “yummy”). Speckled Ax has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake and Happiest Staff Awards.
And the winner is Speckled Ax, Thames
Runners-up: Jaunty Goat, Northgate Street and Kaffi Ó-le
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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