2021 Awards – Happiest Staff

Detail from the A-board outside Party on Pavilion: "The Roasting Party - Coffee every day!"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.

  • Coffee Notes and its charismatic owner, Harry, who is happiness personified.
  • The Old Roastery Coffee Shop,  a warm and welcoming space.
  • Liar Liar, where, despite the new rooms, you should sit in the front to natter with the staff.
  • Hatch @ Hazel & Haydn, and the lovely barista Bianca.
  • Bean & Leaf Coffee House and the tight-knit, friendly team who keep the coffee flowing.
  • Nostos Coffee, where barista Edison greets everyone like a long-lost friend.
  • Knead a Little Love, run with smiles and laughter by sisters Jess and Becca.
  • Speckled Ax, Thames, with Speckled Ax's hallmark warm and friendly welcome.
Coffee Notes and its charismatic owner, Harry, who is happiness personified.1 The Old Roastery Coffee Shop,  a warm and welcoming space. 2 Liar Liar, where, despite the new rooms, you should sit in the front to natter with the staff.3 Hatch @ Hazel & Haydn, and the lovely barista Bianca.4 Bean & Leaf Coffee House and the tight-knit, friendly team who keep the coffee flowing.5 Nostos Coffee, where barista Edison greets everyone like a long-lost friend.6 Knead a Little Love, run with smiles and laughter by sisters Jess and Becca.7 Speckled Ax, Thames, with Speckled Ax's hallmark warm and friendly welcome.8
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There are eight Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.

A single-origin Guatemalan espresso extracting from a Fracino lever espresso machine and into my Kaffeeform cup at Coffee Notes in Hammersmith.Coffee Notes

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.

The coffee menu above the espresso machine at The Old Roastery Coffee Shop.The Old Roastery Coffee Shop

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.

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’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.

A flat white, made with the Dark Horse blend from Quarter Horse, and served in my HuskeeCup at Hatch in Birmingham.Hatch @ Hazel & Haydn

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.

The Bean & Leaf Coffee House logo from the A-board in Hertford Street.Bean & Leaf Coffee House

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.

An espresso, made with Kiss the Hippo’s Bensa from Ethiopia, an anaerobic natural with tasting notes of blackberry, pineapple and strawberry jam, served at Nostos in a classic blue cup.Nostos Coffee

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.

A flat white, made with the Rocket Espresso blend from Extract, served at Knead a Little Love.Knead a Little Love

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.

A lovely cappuccino, made with the Honduras El Cedro, a honey processed coffee, served in a classic white cup at Speckled Ax, Thames Street in Portland, Main.Speckled Ax, Thames

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.


And the winner is Coffee Notes
Runners-up: Knead a Little Love and Liar Liar

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


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8 thoughts on “2021 Awards – Happiest Staff

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