The final shortlist of the day is for another of my favourite Coffee Spot Awards, that of “Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff”, won last year by Party on Pavilion. In my opinion, staff are probably the most over-looked part of any Coffee Spot. Good staff can make a place and bad staff, no matter how great the coffee and wonderful the location, can kill a place.
Everywhere that features in the Coffee Spot has great staff, but these were exceptional, with some infectiously happy staff. However, this award isn’t just for happy staff; it’s for any staff who go that extra mile to make their coffee shop a special place.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are eight Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Coffee Notes is a small coffee stand at the front of Ravenscourt Park Station (hence its appearance on the shortlist for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award) which opened in the summer of 2020. The charismatic owner, Hari, is happiness personified. Both he and his coffee (which has been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award) are well worth a visit.
Located on an industrial estate in Merrow, The Old Roastery Coffee Shop is much nicer than it sounds. Occupying what once was the roastery for Redber Coffee Roasters), it’s a warm, welcoming space, particularly because of the interior design, but more so because of the lovely barista. The Old Roastery Coffee Shop has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Outdoor Seating and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
It’s always a treat to visit Liar Liar in Oswestry, especailly now it has expanded into the building next door, spreading itself over four different levels. However, probably the best place to sit is still in the first room you come to, where you can nater with the lovely staff behind the counter (and other customers). Liar Liar has also been shortlisted for the Best Physical Space Award.
Hatch operates from a window (the “hatch” of the name) at the far end of the hairdressers, Hazel & Haydn. Strictly takeaway, it offers an extremely concise espresso-based menu from the local Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters, although perhaps the best thing about it is the warm welcome you’ll get from Bianca the barista. Hatch has also been shortlisted for this year’s Best Takeaway Coffee and Best Flat White Awards.
Bean & Leaf serves some excellent coffee from roasters from around the country, which earned it a place on the shortlist for the Best Espresso Award. It also has a lovely, cosy basement (and a place on the Coffee Spot with the Best Basement shortlist). However, perhaps the most impressive thing about Bean & Leaf are the staff, a tight-knit and friendly team, who keep themselves busy in their corridor-like space behind the counter.
Nostos Coffee occupies a small, quirky space next to Battersea Park station. You’ll be greeted like a long-lost friend by the barista, Edison, while the way the seating has been arranged (benches around the edges), means you’ll always be drawn into any conversation. Nostos Coffee is also on this year’s shortlists for the Smallest Coffee Spot, Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station and Best Espresso Awards.
Knead a Little Love is a coffee shop and doughnut bakery specialising in vegan doughnuts (which earned it a place on this year’s shortlist for the Best Cake Award). Founded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by Jess (who bakes the doughnuts) and her sister, Becca, together they and their small team bring smiles, love and laughter to the coffee shop.
The final entry on this shortlist sees us in the USA at the new (to me) Speckled Ax on Thames Street in Portland, Maine. One of Speckled Ax’s hallmarks is the warm and friendly welcome you get from the wonderful baristas and the new Thames Street location is no exception. Speckled Ax has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White and Best Cake Awards.
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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