Merry Christmas to all my readers old and new! Once again, it’s time for the Coffee Spot Awards, now into their ELEVENTH year! The Awards allow me to reflect on all the great places I’ve written about this year and to give them all some more well-deserved time in the limelight. As usual, there are 20 Awards, the shortlists being publishing between now and New Year’s Day, with the winners announced on Monday, 2nd January (a day later than usual).
After two relatively quiet years, 2022 took off (literally) when work-related travel restarted in May 2022, with a trip to Berlin. I’m now very much back on the work travel treadmill, which is why UK-based Coffee Spots have been a little thin on the ground this year. 2022 has also been a year of personal upheaval. My father died in February, resulting in me inheriting the family home in North Wales. This also prompted my decision to return to live in Wales after 25 years in Guildford, the move being completed (unless you count unpacking) on Friday, two days before Christmas.
Thanks to everyone who’s shared some or all of the year with me by reading my posts on the Coffee Spot, following me on Twitter, liking my Facebook page, or looking at my Instagram pictures. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot that you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.
Before we go on, let’s check out who won what in last year’s Awards in the gallery.
Despite work-related travel restarting this year, I only published Coffee Spots from three countries, since almost all of my travel has been to America, either for work or to visit Amanda. However, I did manage to add Germany to the list, with Coffee Spots from Berlin, Köln and Mainz. I also had a first visit to Austin, Texas, as well as going on a mid-America road trip that saw me visit four states (Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa and South Dakota) for the first time. Along the way, I stopped at Coffee Spots in Chattanooga, Nashville, St Louis, Kansas City, Sioux City and Sioux Falls, all of which were new to me. Finally, I reacquainted myself with the coffee scene in Portland, Maine, my home from home.
Anyway, enough of what I got up to this year. It’s time to introduce the Coffee Spot Award categories. Don’t forget that as the shortlists for each Award are published between now and New Year’s Eve, you will be able to click on the Award title to see who is in the running.
Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot (2021 Winner: Garden Social Coffee House)
Let’s face it, go to big cities such as New York, Edinburgh or Manchester and you expect to find good Coffee Spots. However, good Coffee Spots are everywhere, and some of them are in very unexpected places… This can either be geographically or a result of the Coffee Spot’s setting. Either way, this award recognises them.
Best Takeaway Coffee (2021 Winner: Lily London, Guildford)
Takeaway coffee is tricky. Often the elements are against you and the surroundings might not be the nicest, so this award recognises those Coffee Spots who produce outstanding coffee against the odds.
Coffee Spot with the Best Basement/Mezzanine (2021 Winner: Java Roastery, Moseley Village)
Regular readers with know that I have a soft spot for Coffee Spots with great basements, and this award recognises them along with, for the first time this year, mezzanines. A good basement can be a real boon, particularly in the winter months, where there’s nowhere better to wrap up warm and cosy, while a mezzanine can also offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop.
Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot (2021 Winner: Bank Street Social)
A lot of the best Coffee Spots are those that are firmly rooted in their neighbourhoods, places that serve and reflect their local communities. This award is for them.
Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting (2021 Winner: Taylor’s Coffee House)
Regular readers will also be aware that I also have a soft spot for coffee shop lighting, so this award ensure that those Coffee Shops with wonderful lighting are properly recognised.
Best Filter Coffee (2021 Winner: Freak & Unique (and Other Coffees))
Writing the Coffee Spot has revolutionised the way I think of (and drink) filter coffee, introducing me to an amazing, delicate drink and opening my eyes to a whole new world of coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which have helped me on my journey.
Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station (2021 Winner: Over Under Coffee, Wandsworth Town)
When you’re desperate for good coffee, stuck in a railway station is rarely the best place to be. But what if there was a great Coffee Spot in the station, or just outside and you didn’t know about it? This award is for you…
Best Saturday Supplement (2021 Winner: Frozen Solid Coffee Project)
The Saturday Supplement is the place where I write about coffee, coffee kit and events without writing about specific places. This award recognises the best of them (note that Saturday Supplements where it’s just me writing about stuff aren’t included; this award is for the things I am writing about, not me!).
Best Outdoor Seating (2021 Winner: Caffi Caban)
This award focuses on those Coffee Spots which provide the best environment for sitting outside. The Coffee Spot itself doesn’t have to be outside; anything with a decent outside seating area qualifies!
Best Espresso (2021 Winner: Nostos Coffee)
Espresso is tricky. While my Sage Barista Express means I can now pull a reliable shot at home, I still admire those who can knock out shot after shot of high-quality espresso. This award is for those Coffee Spots which served me the best and most memorable espressos of the year.
Smallest Coffee Spot (2021 Winner: Tintico, Greek Street)
I have a special place in my heart for small coffee spots and this year the Coffee Spot continued to be full of them. Note that this is all subjective – I did not get my tape measure out at any point!
Best Cake (2021 Winner: Kookaburra Bakehouse)
It’s not all about the coffee you know (despite what the tag line says). What would a cup of coffee be without a decent slice of cake to go with it? So, cake plays a major part in the Coffee Spot and this award celebrates the Coffee Spots which excel in the cake department.
Best Roaster/Retailer (2021 Winner: Hundred House Coffee)
While the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink a lot of coffee at home. This award recognises those wonderful who roast and sell me my coffee beans.
Best Flat White (2021 Winner: Speckled Ax, Thames)
While I love my espresso and my (black) filter coffee, espresso with milk is very much its own thing, reaching a pinnacle (in my opinion) in the flat white (although, depending on the coffee, I will also go for a cortado). This award recognises those who have produced the perfect blend of coffee and milk with the smoothest, silkiest flat white.
Best Physical Space (2021 Winner: Medicine New Street)
For me, a Coffee Spot is as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel as it is about the coffee. This award celebrates those Coffee Spots which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in.
Happiest Staff (2021 Winner: Coffee Notes)
I think that 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.
Best Breakfast (2021 Winner: Little Yellow Pig, Nantwich)
Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart, so-much-so that I started the Saturday Spot so that I could write about Coffee Spots where the coffee wasn’t up to much, but where the breakfasts were to die for! Of course, there are also plenty of places where both the coffee and the breakfasts are to die for!
Most Passionate About Coffee (2021 Winner: Sam’s Coffee)
It’s not just about the coffee, it’s also about people who love and care about coffee. In fact, everyone who has been covered in the Coffee Spot is passionate about coffee and one of the great things is how much love there is out there. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.
Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award (2021 Winner: The Hideaway)
This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love…
Most Popular Coffee Spot (2021 Winner: Lily London, Guildford)
Finally, this is the only award not decided by me. It’s given to the Coffee Spot which received the greatest number of views (according to JetPack) in this calendar year. Since the Awards are meant to recognise what’s happened on the Coffee Spot this year, I’ve decided to exclude Coffee Spots published in previous years.
And that’s it. All the shortlists have been published. If you’re interested, you can now find out who won.
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Hey Brian this is brilliant I am over in Barrie Ontario and on the search for good coffee also in Toronto next week please let me know if you have any recommendations if you are looking for cake and coffee in North Wales you should try the Bakehouse in Greenfield a bit of a hidden gem right next to a amazing Abbey I hope to try some of your finds Regards Stephen
Sadly I have never been to Toronto (although it’s on my list) so I can’t help you. The Bakehouse in Greenfield is somewhere I know well since it’s just a short walk from my house!
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