Coffee Spot Awards 2019: 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 2020 underway, here are the winners of the eighth annual Brian’s Coffee Spot Awards. As before, there are 20 Awards, celebrating all the wonderful Coffee Spots I wrote about during 2019. 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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2019 Awards – Most Popular Coffee Spot

The Decent Espresso machine, set up and ready to go at The Good Coffee Cartel in Glasgow.So, here it is, the final Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2019, 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 2019, although this year I’ve tweaked the rule slightly and included Coffee Spots published within the last two months of 2018.

Last year this was won last year by Decent Espresso with 1,109 views. This year, of the 15 most viewed, 14 are Coffee Spots, with 11 from the UK. There’s also just one Saturday Supplement. This is, in some ways, my favourite Award since I don’t have to make any decisions. After 19 shortlists, it’s quite a relief not to have to decide who’s in and who’s out!

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2019 Awards – Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award

The Sarah's Caring Coffee logo.Welcome to the penultimate Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2019, the Brian’s Coffee Spot Special Award, which was won last year by Sarah’s Caring Coffee & The Coffee Bean. 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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2019 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee

The sign hanging outside Discourse Coffee in Sister Bay, Door County.Welcome to the next Coffee Spot Awards Shortlist for 2019, the “Most Passionate About Coffee” Award, which was won in 2018 by Discourse Coffee. 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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2019 Awards – Best Breakfast

The Short + Stout logo from above the door of the shop in Hoole.We enter the final day of the 2019 Coffee Spot Awards shortlists with the “Best Breakfast” Award, which in 2018 went to Short + Stout. 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 so much travelling over the last two years that 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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2019 Awards – Happiest Staff

Part of the upstairs seating at the Heart & Graft Coffee Shop in Salford.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 Heart & Graft Coffee Shop. 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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2019 Awards – Best Physical Space

The Cottontree Coffee Cafe logo, with a pour-over kettle on top and an espresso portafilter at the bottom.Next up today, the 2019 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Physical Space”, which was won last year by Cottontree Coffee Roasters. 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. It’s another where I could have made two or three different shortlists, all with worthy winners. However, I have managed to whittle it down to just a single list for this year’s Award.

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2019 Awards – Best Flat White

A flat white, served in a classic black cup, at Amsterdam's Black Gold.Next we have a new award for 2019, the “Best Flat White” Award. This replaces the old “Best Overseas Coffee Spot”, which was won in 2018 by Amsterdam’s Black Gold. When I set up the Award in 2013, I made two or three trips a year outside of the UK. In the last two years, I’ve spent less than half my time in the UK, which is reflected in my posts, with fewer than half of the Coffee Spots coming from the UK.

As a result, Overseas Coffee Spots don’t need a special award category of their own any more. Instead I’ve replaced it with the “Best Flat White” award, although technically this should be the “Best Piccolo, Cortado, Gibraltar, Cappuccino, Flat White or Latte” Award. Basically, any espresso-based drink with milk. So, without further ado, let’s get on with things!

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2019 Awards – Best Roaster/Retailer

Four of the potential 25 coffees on offer at Koffee Mameya in Tokyo.First up today, the 2019 Coffee Spot Award shortlist for “Best Roaster/Retailer”, which was won last year by Koffee Mameya. 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 they are cafe/roasters who I have 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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2019 Awards – Best Cake

A lovely flat white in a simple, yellow mug at Siop Shop in Manchester.Welcome to the final 2019 Coffee Spot Awards shortlist of the day, the “Best Cake” Award, won in 2018 by Siop 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 didn’t visit that many dedicated cake spots, I was nonetheless treated to some absolutely fantastic cake along the way, proving that, like good coffee, the more you look, the more good cake you find.

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