Much has changed in Shrewsbury’s speciality coffee scene since my previous visit almost exactly a year ago, including the closure of The Colonel’s Son and the evolution of The Condor/English Bridge Coffee. Into this mix comes the latest addition, Pont, on Wyle Cop, a lovely little bakery, which opened two months ago, specialising in patisserie.
Pont’s owner, Lauren, can be found in the bakery behind the counter from the small hours of the morning onwards, where she and her team turn out an array of pastries, cakes and a limited selection of loaves and sandwiches. There’s also coffee, from old friends Hundred House Coffee, whose Bon Bon blend and Colombian decaf are available via a concise, espresso-based menu. Although primarily serving the to-go market (so don’t forget to bring your own cup), Pont has an outside table for two in front of the window to the left of the door.
My introduction to speciality coffee in Melbourne came via Coffee Black Coffee’s container on Queensbridge Square on the south bank of the Yarra River, opposite Flinders Street Station and the Central Business District. Each of my first four days in Melbourne began with the five-minute walk from our hotel to the open spaces of Queensbridge Square where I had a flat white, as well as picking up a coffee for Amanda, which I took back to the hotel.
Code Black Coffee occupies a converted shipping container, appropriately painted black, on the western edge of Queensbridge Square, its back to Queens Bridge Street. Six round tables are arranged in two rows in front of the container should you want to stay, although everything is served in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. All the coffee is roasted in-house, with a blend and single-origin available (either hot or cold) through a simple espresso-based menu, while another single-origin is on batch-brew filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, Code Black has a small range of cakes/pastries.
One of the neat things about being a regular visitor to Portland (Maine) is that I’ve been able to watch Tandem Coffee Roasters evolve over the last eight years. Tandem has two locations, Tandem Coffee + Bakery (cunningly disguised as a gas station on Congress Street) and the subject of today’s Coffee Spot Update, Tandem Cafe & Roastery on Anderson Street in Portland’s East End. This has undergone two large overhauls since my first visit in 2015, when I came to Maine to begin my coast-to-coast train journey from Portland to Portland.
The first overhaul came when the roastery moved into a separate building behind the original. I reported on this and the subsequent remodelling of the cafe in 2020, publishing my Coffee Spot Update less than a month before the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world. This resulted in the cafe closing its doors for over two years, from March 2020 until May 2022, although the roastery kept going the whole time. However, one good thing that came out of the enforced closure was that it gave Tandem the time and space to undertake a complete remodelling of the café, which is the subject of today’s Coffee Spot Update.
Black Fox Coffee is the final Coffee Spot from last September’s visit to New York City. Fittingly, since I started my Manhattan write-ups with a recommendation from my friend Bex (of Double Skinny Macchiato), Black Fox is another of Bex’s many NYC recommendations. Black Fox is an interesting concept, being both a roaster in its own right and also a multi-roaster, featuring guests from around the world on batch-brew filter, alongside its own coffee on espresso, with all the coffee available in retail bags in store and online.
There are currently five Black Foxes around Manhattan, with today’s Coffee Spot located on W 33rd Street in Midtown. It occupies a spot on the ground floor of the Pendry Hotel and, while a door leads directly from the hotel lobby to the coffee shop, it’s a completely standalone operation. There’s no seating inside, and although it has a couple of tables outside, Black Fox only uses disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. If you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes and pastries.
Regular readers know that I love a good market, so it’s fitting that today’s Saturday Short takes us to Chester, where the new Chester Market, part of the Northgate development, opened in November last year. And even better, from the Coffee Spot’s perspective, one of the founding tenants in none other than Bean & Cole, with the unit in the market joining the original coffee shop on Frodsham Street.
Bean & Cole occupies a simple counter towards the back of the new market, although you’re welcome to take your coffee to any of the market’s extensive seating areas, inside or out. Even better, the friendly baristas will bring your coffee to you and, what’s more, it will be served in a proper cup! Best of all, though, is the choice of beans, with Assembly on espresso, along with a guest roaster in the second hopper, while for filter, there’s a choice of pour-over or batch-brew (both from Square Mile during my visit). Finally, if you’re hungry, Bean & Cole has its usual range of cakes/pastries.
Although no longer a resident, I’m still very interested in Guildford’s speciality coffee scene. I was therefore sad to learn in March that an old favourite, Koja Coffee, had closed after a tumultuous year which saw it move from its original home on Jeffries Passage to New House, a recently-opened space for artists and creatives. However, every cloud has a silver lining and in May I was delighted to learn from Ben Barker that Frida’s Coffee House had opened in Koja’s place. Naturally, I visited the next time I was in Guildford.
If you were familiar with Koja, the set up is very similar, Frida’s occupying a counter inside the lobby to New House. There’s a similar offering too, with the Nom Nom blend from Hundred House along with Perky Blenders’ decaf on espresso, while Hundred House also supplies two single-origins, available as pour-overs through the V60. One change is that Frida’s offers a small range of toasted panini and savoury croissants, plus vegan sausage rolls and the usual selection of cakes/pastries.
Public Space is another Amsterdam Coffee Spot that came highly recommended by various people, with the added bonus that it is a rare speciality coffee outpost north of the River IJ. Public Space is also unusual in that it is a restaurant serving speciality coffee, rather than a coffee shop serving great food. Public Space is open in the morning/afternoon for coffee and lunch (although a breakfast service is coming soon) before re-opening in the evening for a full dinner menu.
Occupying part of the ground floor of a very modern high-rise building in a new development (which is still under construction), Public Space is, as the name might suggest, very spacious, with a small outdoor seating area, and much more inside, where coffee shop style seating (sofas, armchairs) mixes with tables for more formal dining.
I can’t speak to the restaurant/dinner side of Public Space, having only visited once, on a Sunday lunchtime. However, even though it’s a restaurant rather than a coffee shop, Public Space more than holds its own when it comes to coffee, with a single-origin from Manhattan Coffee Roasters on espresso, another on daily batch brew, and multiple options on pour-over through the Tricolate brewer.
The Coffee Spot gets another year underway by returning to my mid-America road trip from October last year and the first stop on our return leg, Coffea Roasterie and Espresso Bar in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Coffea has three locations, all in Sioux Falls, but this is the flagship, combining coffee shop and roastery in a lovey, multi-faceted space on the city’s west side. There are multiple choices on espresso, batch brew and pour-over, while if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house.
Sadly this was very much a flying visit since we had started late that day, had a long way to go and wanted to see the eponymous Sioux Falls (which are well worth the effort, and, if you have time for coffee, Coffea’s downtown espresso bar isn’t that far away). As a result, I wasn’t able to do a full write-up, lacking both the photographs and the extensive notes that I normally take, so instead you’ll have to make do with the year’s first Saturday Snapshot.
Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2023 underway, here are the winners of the 11th annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2022. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced on a rolling basis starting on Boxing Day and now we have the winners!
Before we go on, I know I’ve said this before, but a big thank you to everyone who’s visited the Coffee Spot, followed me on Twitter, liked my Facebook page and looked at my pictures on Instagram. While I do this for the love of coffee, it means a lot to me that so many of you take the time to read and comment on my writing. Without you, it really would be pointless.
And finally, please accept my apologies for the delays with this year’s Awards. There’s been a lot going on in my life, including moving house two days before Christmas, which has really slowed me down this year. Anyway, without further ado, let’s find out who won!
So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2022, the only one that you, my readers, decide. It’s the “Most Popular Coffee Spot” Award, which is based on the total number of views received by each Coffee Spot in 2022.
Last year this was won last year by Lily London, Guildford. This year’s top 10 consists of seven Coffee Spots, including three from my trip to California over the summer, and three Saturday Supplements.