We’re halfway through the 2022 Coffee Spot Awards, so it’s time for the shortlist for the “Best Espresso” Award, which was won in 2021 by Nostos Coffee. When it comes down to it, I still tend to judge a Coffee Spot by the quality of its espresso. Of course, this is entirely subjective and down to taste. I would never knock a place that made a good espresso just because it wasn’t to my taste.
This award is for those Coffee Spots which served me the best and most memorable espressos of the year. I started the Coffee Spot as a confirmed Italian espresso drinker with my palette evolving and expanding over time. This year I had some truly sublime espresso, leading to this being one of the most hotly contested of this year’s Awards.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 12 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
Let’s start in Portland, Maine, with Speckled Ax, where I had the La Bendición from Nicaragua. This looked gorgeous in the cup, rich and creamy, and tasted even better, well-balanced with a complex flavour. And, as a bonus, it was roasted in the room behind the little espresso bar I drank it in. Talking of which, Speckled Ax is already shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Staying in New England, but moving down to Boston, I visited La Colombe in the Seaport District. I went for the single-origin option on espresso, which was the Women of Ketiara, a washed coffee from the Ketiara Cooperative in Indonesia, served in my Kaffeeform cup. A well-rounded, lighter roast, it had plenty of body, with a pleasing touch of acidity on the first sip.
The Penny Drop is the first of two entries from London on this year’s shortlist. Despite the picture, it’s made it onto the shortlist for a naturally-processed Peruvian coffee from Maribel Herrera Torres, roasted by Margate’s Curve Coffee Roasters. I had this as an espresso, a lovely, sweet coffee with a pleasing touch of acidity. The Penny Drop has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
The second London entry is the Dark Woods Coffee bar inside Ruffians barbershop. I had the Driftwood, Dark Woods’ “house” Colombian, a washed coffee from the El Ata farm in the Tolima region of Colombia. As an espresso, this was smooth and well-balanced, with a pleasing touch of acidity. Dark Woods and Ruffians have also been shortlisted for the Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting and Smallest Coffee Spot Awards.
Returning to Boston, the Gracenote Coffee and Wine Bar is a relatively new addition, located inside High Street Place. Gracenote has been one of my favourite New Englad roasters and always produces some interesting coffee. My espresso, made with the Alpha blend of two naturally-processed coffees, was no exception. The gorgeous handleless cup was a bonus.
Although I’ve been imperssed with the courtyard at Bonanza (good enough for a place on the Best Outdoor Seating shortlist) and I really enjoyed the sample filter coffee I was given (which got onto the shortlist for the Best Filter Coffee Award), I’d actually come for espresso. This too was sublime, a naturally-processed coffee from Ethiopia, which was fruity and complex.
Staying in Germany, but moving to Köln, I had this Todos Santos, a washed coffee from Guatemala. The shot was pulled on a Decent Espresso machine, resulting in a very interesting espresso, quite different from the chocolate/nuts notes of a typical espresso.
I visited Mainz on a day trip from Köln, where I found Kaffeekommune and this lightly-roasted, naturally-processed coffee, the Ethiopia Bombe G1. sweet, complex and really well balanced, it was nothing like a typical espresso, which is exactly what I was hoping for! Koffeekommune has also been shortlisted for the Smallest Coffee Spot Award.
Returning to America, to San Francisco to be precise, I had a washed Colombian espresso at Spro. This was excellent, a rich, complex shot served with a glass of sparkling water and, in a first for me, three blueberries. The first sip was rich and complex, followed by the remaining sips (which I alternated with a blueberry between each sip) becoming increasingly acidic. Spro has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Staying in California, I had this Baroida Estate at the CoRo Coffee Room in Berkeley. A naturally-processed coffee from Papua New Guinea, it was roasted by CoRo and served in a beautiful, handleless cup with a glass of water on the side, all presented on a neat wooden tray. CoRo is also on the shortlist for the Best Cake Award.
Returning to Berlin, I had the Sonora, a naturally-processed coffee from Costa Rica, as an espresso. This was a beautiful, well-rounded, well-balanced shot, the coffee having been roasted in Alex’s roasting facility at the back of the building.
Our final entry on this year’s shortlist is another espresso that was roasted in a room at the back of the building. In this case it was the Gamatui Community from Uganda which I had at Blueprint Coffee in St Louis. This was excellent, a complex coffee that was very different from what I’m used to.
The winner will be announced on Monday, 2nd January. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2022.
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