Coffee Spot Awards 2020: 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 2021 underway, here are the winners of the ninth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2020. 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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2020 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

A lovely espresso in a classic white cup, made with the bespoke house-blend at Omotesando Koffee, London.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, 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 2020.

Last year this was won last year by Omotesando Koffee, London with 806 views. This year’s shortlist features the 10 most viewed Coffee Spots, four of which are from my hometown of Guildford, with two more from Caversham. Only five are what could be described as classic Coffee Spot write ups, with two COVID-19 updates, a Meet the Roaster and two Saturday Supplements (one of which is really about travel).

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2020 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

Detail of the wall art in Kafi, Fitzrovia, showing small white flowers on a plain background.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Kafi. In past year’s, this has been 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.

This year’s Award is slightly different in that I’ve narrowed the criteria to be those Coffee Spots whose response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been outstanding in some way.

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2020 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

Details from the coffee menu at Canterbury's Coffee Curiosity.Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2020, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2019 by Coffee Curiosity. 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. However, those shortlisted for this award stand out from the crowd.

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2020 Awards – Best Breakfast

The SLOW Cafe logo hanging outside the coffee shop in Prague.We enter the final day of the 2020 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2019 went to SLOW Café. 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, in recent years I’ve been travelling so much that this is usually a healthy shortlist.

This year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had fewer breakfasts than usual, but, helped by those wonderful places that serve all-day breakfasts, I’ve managed to get a decent shortlist together. 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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2020 Awards – Happiest Staff

A Kopi Tubruk, a traditional Indonesian coffee, where hot water is poured directly on ground coffee, stirred and then left to stand, made with a naturally-processed Kerinci Kayu Aro from Ngopi in Birmingham.I present the final shortlist of the day, which is for another of my favourite Coffee Spot Awards, that of “Coffee Spot with the Happiest Staff”. Last year it was won by Ngopi. 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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2020 Awards – Best Physical Space

The Pražírna Kavárna logo, a black and white line drawing of a roaster. Am I the only one who thinks it looks like a steam train?Next up today, the 2020 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Pražírna Kavárna. 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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2020 Awards – Best Flat White

A lovely flat white in a class white cup on a black saucer, made with an El Mirador single-origin from Guatemala, roasted by Roasted Brown and served at First Draft Coffee & Wine in Dublin.The second of today’s 2020 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists is for the “Best Flat White” Award, which was won last year by First Draft Coffee & Wine.

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, etc, also qualify).

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2020 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

The roaster, a 5 kg Probat, at Wood St Coffee in Walthamstow.First up today, the 2020 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Wood St Coffee Roastery. 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, 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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2020 Awards – Best Cake

A glorious Boston Rhubarb doughtnut from the Donut ShopWelcome to the final 2020 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2019 by Donut Shop. 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 while I haven’t had as much cake this year (in coffee shops, that is; I’ve had plenty at home), when I have, I’ve been treated to some absolutely fantastic cakes, buns, pies and slices.

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