Coffee Spot Awards 2021: Winners

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Happy New Year to all my followers old and new! As we get 2022 underway, here are the winners of the tenth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2021. The shortlists for all 20 Awards were announced between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve 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.

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2021 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

My new Peak Water filter jug, fresh out of the box.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2021, 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 2021. Note that only Coffee Spots published in 2021 are eligible for this award, otherwise the top three would be from 2017, 2018 and 2020!

Last year the Most Popular Coffee Spot was Peak Water, which received over 1,000 views. This year’s shortlist features the 10 most viewed Coffee Spots, and, for the second year running, four of them are from my hometown of Guildford, with another four from around the country. The remaining two are Saturday Supplements, both about coffee equipement.

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2021 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

My espresso, made with Square Mile's Red Brick blend, and served in a classic black cup at Kaffeine on Great Titchfield Street.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2021, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Kaffeine. This is a special award for those Coffee Spots which don’t quite fit into the other categories, but which nonetheless I absolutely love… It’s also a chance for me to recognise and reward those wonderful Coffee Spots that I come across during the year and which mean something special to me.

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2021 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

A lovely flat white, made with the Dark Horse blend from Quarter Horse, and served in a gorgeous, handleless cup at Whaletown Coffee Co. in Sheffield.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.

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2021 Awards – Best Breakfast

An Ethiopian Chelelektu, roasted and served as an espresso in a classic, white cup at Catalyst.We enter the final day of the 2021 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2020 went to Catalyst. Along with cake, breakfast has a special place in my heart. It used to be that I rarely got up and out of the house early enough to get to places before they stop serving breakfast.

However, I’ve been doing a lot better recently, so I’m now able to generate a healthy shortlist this year, helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts! In fact, given how often I have things from the breakfast menu for lunch, I wonder if I should rename this award “Best Brunch”…

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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.

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2021 Awards – Best Physical Space

A lovely flat white, made with Climpson & Sons signature Estate espresso, served in a classic yellow cup at Obscure Coffee in Chester.Next up today, the 2021 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Obscure Coffee. One of the most important things for me is how a Coffee Spot looks and feels. This, to me, is just as important as the coffee.

This award celebrates those Coffee Spots in which there’s a pure joy in just sitting there, soaking it all in. It’s not just about physical beauty and elegance. Instead, it’s as much about atmosphere, layout and overall feel.

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2021 Awards – Best Flat White

Detail from a drawing of a wreath of the wall of The Flower Cup, a Botanical Coffee Shop in Chester.The second of today’s 2021 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists is for the “Best Flat White” Award, which was won last year by The Flower Cup.

Although I love black coffee, espresso with milk is very much its own thing. This award recognises those who have produced the perfect blend of coffee and milk with the smoothest, silkiest flat white (although awesome cortados, cappuccinos, etc, also qualify). This year there’s been a particularly strong showing by various decaf flat whites, while an oat milk flat white has made the shortlist as well.

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2021 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

The 15 kg Giesen roaster at Quarter Horse, Birmingham.First up today, the 2021 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters. Initially, this award was only open to retailers, but in 2014, I expanded it to include roasters, who now dominate the award. Contenders have either appeared in the Meet the Roaster series or are cafe/roasters which I’ve visited during the year.

Although the Coffee Spot is mostly about places to have coffee, I still drink the majority of my coffee at home (actually, with the amount of travelling I now do, I’m not so sure this is true…), so those wonderful people who provide me with my coffee beans need a mention. The problem, as with all these awards, is knowing where to draw the line for the shortlist. I’ve visited lots of coffee shops/roasters this year, but I’ve made a decision, by-and-large, to stick to either roasters I’ve written about as roasters or coffee shops where the beans are roasted on site.

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2021 Awards – Best Cake

The new logo from the wall of Bean & Cole, featuring a pair of cartoon dogs, one holding an espresso cup and the other with a portafilter.Welcome to the final 2021 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2020 by Bean & Cole. Despite what it says on the tag line, the Coffee Spot’s not all about the coffee. After all, 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.

This is another of my favourite Awards and I was treated to some absolutely fantastic cake this year, with a strong showing from various bakery/cafés this year alongside some excellent coffee shop cakes.

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