The Coffee Awards 2017

This year’s edition of the STWFW Coffee Awards (formerly the Weimar Republic Coffee Awards) has many tempting potential subtitles: ‘the USA edition’, ‘the dairy-free edition’, ‘the macchiato edition’ or ‘the year I was briefly forced to give up coffee on medical grounds edition’ to name but a few strong contenders. But let’s not confuse things. Let’s stick to what we know. So here is 2017’s Coffee Awards run-down:

Cartwheel Cafe and Roastery, 16 Low Pavement, Nottingham

Cartwheel sort-of won last year’s Coffee Awards (there are no winners, it’s the taking part that counts) and here they are again in this year’s line up. I just love this place. Amazing food (you will basically die of smashed avo), excellent service and super coffee, all done by people who really know what they are doing. In my efforts to be a better vegan this year I drank a lot of black coffee, and you cannot get better black coffee than one of these beautiful, rich, velvety pour-overs. I love you, Cartwheel. Never leave me.

The Specialty Coffee Shop, 50 Friar Lane, Nottingham

Another returning star from last year’s awards, and pictured is a lovely, creamy flat white with oat milk. Oat milk is probably my favourite dairy alternative, and although I have grown to love the nuttiness of soy I will always take oat if it’s available. Specialty have introduced new menus this year and it’s a great place to drop into for a a light brunch or lunch.

Society Cafe, Narrow Quay, Bristol (also in Bath and Oxford)

Newsflash!!! Society is now in Bristol!!! The devoted followers of the Coffee Awards amongst you may recall that Society ‘won’ (there are no winners) the inaugural 2013 edition of the Coffee Awards, back when we were the Weimar Republic. Since then, Society has opened up in Bristol so you don’t even need to get a train to enjoy one of their beautiful, tangy coffees. This is an almond milk flat white. It may not be able to win the Coffee Awards, but it won at life.

Boston Tea Party, 293 Gloucester Road, Bristol (also multiple locations across Bristol and the West Country, with forays into the West Midlands)

Oh Boston Tea Party, one of my most long-standing cafe loves. You have been a teenage hangout (Park Street branch), the scene of many happy brunches with family and friends (Gloucester Road and Cheltenham Road branches), and a retreat when times were hard (Exeter branch, which provided an hour of comfort and familiarity after an arduous work trip, and Gloucester Road, again, where I sat alone and stared for two hours into an empty coffee cup on a Sunday morning, the day after Mark’s dad died). Every branch does a consistently good coffee, pictured is a soy flat white. Also some of the best brunches in the UK (objective fact) and top-notch lemonade and green smoothies. I also feel compelled to mention that Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians is probably one of the great works of modern literature. Probably the greatest modern novel there is. Read it now. If you can read it in a branch of Boston Tea Party, even better.

Toby’s Estate (West Village), 44 Charles Street, New York (other locations across New York)

Across the pond now. Toby’s Estate served us well as we marauded through New York. For some reason I started drinking a lot of soy macchiatos while we were away, and the above was our order for a Sunday afternoon in the West Village, after a lunch of Chinese pancakes at Smorgasburg Manhattan.  After this we walked the High Line. The sun was shining and I was so happy I thought my heart might stop.

Blue Bottle, Westfield World Trade Centre, New York (other locations across New York)

Blue Bottle has a branch just by the 9/11 Memorial in downtown New York. At this point I need to give a huge shout out to the guy that served us soy macchiatos twice in this branch, for giving us all sorts of insider knowledge about how to best get free tickets for the MOMA and what to look for in the current exhibitions, and what day was best to go to the Frick collection. We followed all his advice and it was spot on. Also, the soy macchiatos were very welcome, particularly on our first visit on a bitterly cold day (hereafter known as ‘The Day it was Minus 3 Degrees Centigrade’), after an emotionally gruelling visit to the memorial.

Little Skips, 941 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn

And finally. If there were a winner of the Coffee Awards 2017 (there isn’t), this would perhaps be it. Little Skips was probably one of my favourite places in the whole of New York. Reached from our apartment in Bed-Stuy via a slightly mental bus ride and somewhat dubious walk into Bushwick (what my mother would refer to as a ‘slice of life’), Little Skips is like a creative mecca of brain-stimulating amazingness.  Great coffee, great toasted sandwiches (I had a vegan BLT. YES, a VEGAN BLT. I know, I know. I might cry with joy), super-fun people watching (serious punks and hipster heaven) and generally just a total delight. If I was living my dream of living in a Brooklyn brownstone and being a writer, this is where the magic would happen.



The Coffee Awards 2016

Welcome to the Still Life with Flat White Coffee Awards 2016! Formerly the Weimar Republic Coffee Awards, but new blog, new name, so I suppose these are the inaugural SLWFW Coffee Awards.

I have not really had to stray too far from home this year to get some excellent coffee. The Nottingham coffee scene has exploded in all its rich creamery over the past year or so, to such an extent that we even created a bit of a stir in the national press! Anyhow, stray occasionally I did and here are my favourites from the past 12 months.

Greenhood Coffee House, Beeston, Nottingham


Greenhood is out in the Nottingham suburb of Beeston, near the university, but is easily reachable by tram/bus/train/bike and well worth the trip. Owned and run by Rory, whom we first encountered some years ago behind the counter of Beeston stalwart The Bean, Greenhood is a beautiful, stylish Sydney-style cafe where you can sit comfortably and enjoy an extremely well-crafted coffee, as well as excellent cakes and light lunches (I recommend the bagels!). Rory also makes a superb matcha latte, for those of your who like your drinks green!

The Speciality Coffee Shop, Nottingham


Lucy and Michelangelo will give you one of the warmest welcomes you will find anywhere in a coffee shop I am sure. Speciality is a bright and airy cafe up on Friar Lane, and being a couple of doors down from the Nottingham Law Society offices I find myself here quite often whenever I am up there on a course! I love watching Michelangelo make the coffee, he puts so much enthusiasm and love into each one, and they offer some fantastically full-flavoured, rich and tangy coffees. You can also get some really great breakfast here – try the smoothie bowls.

Laynes Espresso, Leeds


I’m noticing that it’s a good year for green/blue coffee cups, but this one bucks the trend with a classic pure white. Heading north now, and right into the centre of Leeds to Laynes Espresso. A tiny little coffee bar, but squeeze in and you will get yourself one of the most beautiful, rich, creamy flat whites you can find anywhere in the country. Also, exceptionally good avocado on toast, if that sort of thing floats your ice cream!

North Tea Power, Manchester


Staying in the north for this one, this cute little flat white can be found at North Tea Power, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. A couple of years ago, I found myself regularly up in the North West for work, and often used to retreat here in the early mornings for some toast and a coffee. It’s a lovely, friendly cafe and one of those places that always seems full of interesting people. I also last went there the morning after Cosmosis Festival back in March, and they were playing basically the full Brian Jonestown Massacre back catalogue in their stereo (BJM headlined Cosmosis), which ticks all the boxes in my book.

Caravan, London (Kings X)


Back to the south. I love Caravan for its consistently excellent food, drink, and the generally all round good atmosphere that always exists in the Kings Cross branch. They roast their own coffee and do one of my favourite blends (‘Special-Bru’), which is delightfully fruity. I always make sure I take a bag home whenever I’m there. I’ve included this particular flat white, which I had back in February, because it should at least probably win best latte art of 2016 for that swan!

Small Street Espresso, Bristol


My home city, like my adopted city, has some great coffee. Small Street Espresso is one of my favourites and the one I find myself going back to time and time again. Another tiny little cafe, but with an astonishingly wide range of coffee options. Good cakes too.

Cartwheel Cafe and Roastery, Nottingham


And finally, if there were a first prize in the SLWFW Coffee Awards, I think this would be it. Cartwheel is a pure joy and to my mind one of the best places in Nottingham right now. Owner Alex, also formerly of Beeston’s The Bean, has created a beautiful Australian-European style cafe with a full kitchen dishing up wonderful breakfasts, brunches and lunches, and of course exceptional coffee. This little beauty in the photo bought a little sunshine to a grey day of Christmas shopping in December, but is just one in a long line of wonderful flat whites and cortados I have had at Cartwheel over the past few months. Long may the line continue!

Thanks to all the above for making the awards such a joy this year! Honorable mentions should also go to Outpost (Nottingham), Wired (Nottingham), 200 Degrees (Nottingham), Workshop (London) and Monmouth (London).

Also I should probably thank the Apple Photos app on my iPhone/Macbook, for very helpfully being able to tell me the address at which each of the above photos were taken, and therefore helping me sort between 20-odd very similar photos of flat whites in green/blue coffee cups.