Next up today, the 2021 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Obscure Coffee. One of the most important things for me is how a Coffee Spot looks and feels. This, to me, is just as important as the coffee.
This award celebrates those Coffee Spots in which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in. It’s not just about physical beauty and elegance. Instead, it’s as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
The Coffee Station was a chance discovery opposite my hotel in Hammersmith. It has a wonderful interior, where the look and feel reminded me of Curio Espresso and Vintage Design in Kanazawa. The highlight is the large, bright seating area at the back, where the furniture (handmade by the owner) sits under a large skylight with a living wall as a backdrop. Coffee Station also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.
Occupying an old garage in Marlow, Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar is exactly what the name suggests, with the coffee roasters sitting at the back of a large, open space, while the coffee bar is on the left. However, it’s also a lot more than that, since you can add kitchen (which earned Coopers a spot on the Best Breakfast shortlist), lounge (plenty of seating) and dog-friendly to the list. Coopers is also shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
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, and views across the River Dee to the North Wales coast. It was looking spectacular in the afternoon sun when I was there. Meanwhile, there’s a sunken beer garden at the back which also sees Elephant Lounge shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating Award.
It was always a treat to visit Liar Liar in Oswestry, but in the last year it has expanded into the building next door and now spreads over four different levels, including, right at the top, the Imitator Bar, Liar Liar’s secret gin bar, which is used as a function room during the day.If you can’t find somewhere you like in amongst all this, you’re really not trying. Liar Liar has also been shortlisted for the Happiest Staff Award.
Wags N Tales in Surbiton is many things: coffee shop, bar, vegetarian/vegan restaurant and all-day dog-friendly venue. It has a wide range of seating across multiple interior spaces, including bar seating (front of the left-hand side), a dining area (front of the right-hand side) and a café (at the back). Wags N Tales has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Best Breakfast Awards.
The new flagship WatchHouse Roastery & Café is Bermondsey, occupying a railway arch on Maltby Street. It’s a stunning setting, dominated by a U-shaped island counter, with bar seating all the walls on either side. All WatchHouse’s coffee is roasted on a re-built 1959 Probat UG22, which you can admire through the glass wall at the back of the café. WatchHouse has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Best Roaster/Retailer Awards.
Grey, in Leytonstone, is another chance find which I discovered as I wandered along Leytonstone High Road. A family-run coffee shop selling food, furniture and homewares, Grey has a neat front section, where you share the space with the vintage furniture, while at the back is a cosy room with more conventional seating. Grey is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Espresso Award.
Medicine was another chance discovery, this time on New Street in Birmingham. Its main space was once home to the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists and has a soaring curved roof with five central skylights running its full length. One of a handful of places that made me go “oh, wow” when I walked, it’s stunningly beautiful. Medicine has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
The original Reykjavik Roasters on Kárastígur is a homely place, full of mismatched furniture and low slung armchairs (someone likened it to granny’s kitchen). You can sit in the window, watching the world go by, or hide away in the little annex behind the counter. Reykjavik Roasters is also shortlisted for the Best Filter Coffee & Best Breakfast Awards.
Sticking with originals, the original Java Roastery in Moseley Village, Birmingham, has achieved a rare triple, managing to be shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting and Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Awards as well as this one. And, frankly, it could easily have made it onto the Best Outdoor Seating shortlist if only the competition hadn’t been so strong this year!
Caffeina Coffi opened this summer, bringing speciality coffee and a beautiful, minimalist interior to the seaside town of Prestatyn. The overall effect is a relaxing one, with the high ceilings and large window adding to a sense of space and light. Caffeina Coffi has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake, Best Espresso and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
Staying in North Wales, The Jester’s Tower Coffee House is owned by Conwy’s town jester and is located inside a 13th century postern tower, part of Conwy’s town walls. I don’t think you have to be a history geek to appreciate the joy of drinking your coffee in a medieval tower! The Jester’s Tower has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Awards.
Returning to London, The Eclectic Collection in Earlsfield is a rather amazing place with an eclectic interior design, spread across four different spaces, starting with a delicatessen at the front. However, to get the full measure of the place, you really need to explore the three seating areas at the back. The Eclectic Collection has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
Taylor’s Coffee House is in a parade of shops near West Byfleet station (hence the place on the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station shortlist). It’s a lovely spot, like a collection of sitting rooms, spread across three different rooms, each with its own character. Taylor’s Coffee House has also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Award.
The final entry sees us back in North Wales with the Heartland Coffee Bar in Llandudno. Tucked away inside Heartland Coffee Roasters, you can sit at the counter at the back, chatting with the barista about all things coffee, or pop upstairs to the mezzanine area overlooking the roastery. Heartland Coffee Bar has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award and Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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