2021 Awards – Best Physical Space

A lovely flat white, made with Climpson & Sons signature Estate espresso, served in a classic yellow cup at Obscure Coffee in Chester.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.

  • Coffee Station, with its large, bright seating area under a large skylight at the back.
  • Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar, roastery, kitchen and coffee lounge all in one.
  • Elephant Lounge, occupying a gorgeous old pub.
  • Liar Liar, now spread across four different levels in Oswestry.
  • Wags N Tales, Surbiton, coffee shop, bar and vegetarian/vegan restaurant.
  • WatchHouse Roastery & Cafe, with its stunning U-shaped island counter.
  • Gray, a family-run coffee shop selling food, furniture and homewares.
  • Medicine New Street, with its stunningly beautiful, take-your-breath-away interior.
  • Reykjavik Roasters, Kárastígur, a homely sort of place, like your granny's kitchen.
  • Java Roastery, with its large interior, great basement and wonderful lighting.
  • Caffeina Coffi, bringing great coffee and a beautiful, minimalist interior to Prestatyn.
  • The Jester's Tower Coffee House, in a 13th century postern tower in Conwy town walls.
  • The Eclectic Collection, its eclectic interior design spread across four different spaces.
  • Taylor's Coffee House, like a collection of sitting rooms.
  • Heartland Coffee Bar, where you can sit on the mezzanine and watch the coffee roasting.
Coffee Station, with its large, bright seating area under a large skylight at the back.1 Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar, roastery, kitchen and coffee lounge all in one.2 Elephant Lounge, occupying a gorgeous old pub.3 Liar Liar, now spread across four different levels in Oswestry.4 Wags N Tales, Surbiton, coffee shop, bar and vegetarian/vegan restaurant.5 WatchHouse Roastery & Cafe, with its stunning U-shaped island counter.6 Gray, a family-run coffee shop selling food, furniture and homewares.7 Medicine New Street, with its stunningly beautiful, take-your-breath-away interior.8 Reykjavik Roasters, Kárastígur, a homely sort of place, like your granny's kitchen.9 Java Roastery, with its large interior, great basement and wonderful lighting.10 Caffeina Coffi, bringing great coffee and a beautiful, minimalist interior to Prestatyn.11 The Jester's Tower Coffee House, in a 13th century postern tower in Conwy town walls.12 The Eclectic Collection, its eclectic interior design spread across four different spaces.13 Taylor's Coffee House, like a collection of sitting rooms.14 Heartland Coffee Bar, where you can sit on the mezzanine and watch the coffee roasting.15
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There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A classic flat white, made with Ozone's Empire Blend and served in a classic cup at Coffee Station in Hammersmith.Coffee Station

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.

My flat white, made with the Jabbajaws blend at Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar, served in a classic blue cup and enjoyed inside for the first time in 2021!Coopers Roastery & Coffee Bar

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.

A classic espresso in a classic cup at Elephant Lounge in Parkgate.Elephant Lounge

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.

Artwork from the upstairs wall of one of the new rooms in Liar Liar, the head of woman with long, wavy hair in a black and white line drawing.Liar Liar

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.

The Wags N Tails logo, a stylised line drawing of a dog's face inside a circle, with the words "Wags N Tales" written at the top of the circle and "Coffee Bar Kitchen" written at the bottom.Wags N Tales, Surbiton

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 WatchHouse Roastery & Cafe, in a railway arch just outside London Bridge station.WatchHouse Roastery & Café

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.

An espresso, made with Workshop's Snap single-origin espresso, served in a glass at Gray in Leytonstone.Gray

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.

A classic decaf flat white served in a classic white cup at Medicine New Street in BirminghamMedicine New Street

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.

A pot of coffee for two (La Cascada from Colombia, made through the Kalita Wave), roasted and served at Reykjavik Roasters, KárastígurReykjavik Roasters, Kárastígur

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 CoffeeBest Breakfast Awards.

Ignite your passion: detail from the wall in the back corner of Java Roastery in Moseley.Java Roastery, Moseley Village

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!

A shot of the Mayni coffee, served as an espresso in a classic white cup at Caffeina Coffi.Caffeina Coffi

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.

The rear of the medieval postern tower in Conwy town walls, home to The Jester's Tower Coffee House.The Jester’s Tower Coffee House

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.

A classic flat white with some lovely latte art, served in a classic black cup at The Eclectic Collection.The Eclectic Collection

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.

The front of Taylor's Coffee House, seen from Station Approach, with the vines growing across the edge of the roof and tables either side of the recessed, central door.Taylor’s Coffee House

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 Los Nogales, a naturally-processed single-origin from El Salvador, roasted and served as a cortado by Heartland Coffee Roasters.Heartland Coffee Bar

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.


And the winner is Medicine New Street
Runners-up: The Eclectic Collection and WatchHouse Roastery & Café

Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.


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