Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2021, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2020 by Whaletown Coffee Co.. For me, this is one of the most important awards, and also one of the hardest to judge, which is why I’ve left it to the last day.
It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. Everyone who I’ve covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there, both for the coffee and for those who make it.
This year, more than most, I could have filled up the shortlist many times over. Indeed, anyone who opened their first coffee shop during the pandemic must be really passionate about coffee.However, those shortlisted for this award stand out even from that crowded field.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are ten Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
I’ve been following the rise of Chminey Fire Coffee from a garden shed in 2016 to its current home in Ranmore Manor in the Surrey Hills, where it has recently expanded again. The passion of Dan and his team has shone through in everything that they’ve done over those five years. Chimney Fire Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Another roaster that I’ve been following (since 2017 in this case) is Hundred House Coffee, which has produced some outstanding coffee over that time. But Hundred House is about more than just cofefee, championing design through its Art & Industry project for example. Hundred House Coffee has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
There’s not a lot to Bruin Café in Wheatley, but that doesn’t limit the ambition of Louis, the owner, who turns out an amazing array of coffee (over 10 single-origins available as pour-over for example, one of which made it onto the shortlist for the Best Filter Coffee Award) and some fabulous food. I didn’t get to try the savoury offerings, but my cake, the Pecan Mess, was good enough for a place on the shortlist for the Best Cake Award.
Talking about passion in coffee, take a look at Sam Towil, legendary owner of Sam’s Coffee, located in Gales of Llangollen, a family-run restaurant wine bar and 15-room hotel. He’s been making top-notch coffee forever (or so it seems) with his passion undimmed. It was a joy catching up with him this year. Sam’s Coffee is also shortlisted for the Best Outdoor Seating, Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
Although I’ve been aware of Tilt ever since it opened, I only met Kirk, the owner, for the first time this year. I was blown away by his ambition for the Frozen Solid Coffee Project, both in what he’s already done and in what he has planned for the future. The Frozen Solid Coffee Project has also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement and Best Filter Coffee Awards.
Staying with a similar theme, the passion for coffee has always been apparent with the team at Rosslyn Coffee. Rosslyn’s Off Menu Coffees is similar to the Frozen Solid Coffee Project, predating it by a few months, albeit on a smaller scale. The Off Menu Coffees project has also been shortlisted for the Best Saturday Supplement and Best Filter Coffee Awards.
A pioneer of speciality coffee in Chester, Jaunty Goat has grown over the years, including opening its own roastery and bakery. However, in its second coffee shop on Northgate Street, it took the unusual step of going completely vegan, right down to having no dairy milk for its milk-based drinks. Jaunty Goat has also been shortlisted for the Best Flat White Award.
While I could have created a (very large) shortlist from the new openings during the pandemic (see the special mentions at the end of this shortlist), The Table, in Walsall, stood out. The passion of the team shines through everything they do, matched only by the way the local community has embraced The Table in return. The Table is also on this year’s Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot and Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot shortlists.
The third (of four) roasters on this shortlist, Heartland Coffee Roasters is another that’s been on my radar for a long time. A pioneer of speciality coffee in North Wales, it’s all about partnerships for Heartland, both through direct trade with coffee farmers at one end, and with its wholesale and retail customers at the other. Heartland has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
Talking of partnerships, Alma Coffee Roastery, a chance discovery that Amanda and I made during our drive from Georgia to Maine last month, is a farm-to-cup operation, bringing Honduran coffee to Georgia in the US (and beyond). As well as roasting and serving coffee in Canton, Alma exports green beans to other roasters around the US and beyond. Alma Coffee Roastery has also been shortlisted for the Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
Lily London, Guildford
The Old Roastery Coffee Shop
Open Grounds Café
Lily London, Shard
Garden Social Coffee House
The Jester’s Tower Coffee House
Knead a Little Love
Mini Beans Coffee
Don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2021.
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