Upshot Espresso

A lovely flat white in an orange cup from Upshot Espresso in SheffieldUpshot Espresso, on Sheffield’s Glossop Road, takes a little bit of finding. Just outside of the centre, near Sheffield University and the hospital, it’s an unprepossessing place, much like Manchester’s TAKK. From the street, a modest, red sign hangs above the door with the words “Upshot Espresso”, while “Independent Coffeehouse” is written in the window. Other than that, there is little in the plain exterior that hints at the delights that lie within.

Make no mistake though. While it’s exterior is not quite as modest as, say, Newcastle’s Flat Caps Coffee, Upshot is very much in the same league. Run by father and son, Neal and Sam, Upshot serves Square Mile’s Red Brick as the house espresso, with a veritable who’s who of British speciality coffee appearing as the regularly-rotating guest. If espresso’s not your thing, there’s also a guest Aeropress option, while Upshot takes as much care about its tea as it does about its coffee, with carefully-selected offerings from Canton Tea Co.

There is also food and cake, and while the menu/selection may be limited, all the food is freshly cooked on the premises and served with the same love and dedication as the coffee (and tea).

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Upshot Espresso, on Sheffield's Glossop Road, has a very unpretentious exterior.
  • In fact, other than this solitary sign, you'd be hard pressed to realise it was there!
  • The interior is similarly unpretentious, a simple rectangle with the counter at the far end.
  • There's a window-bar to the left of the door as you come in...
  • ... and another to the right, although that might be gone by the time you read this.
  • The rest of the seating is scattered eclectically around, like this square table...
  • ... or these tables, chairs and stools.
  • I was particularly taken by this chair (to look at). I've no idea what it's like to sit in!
  • There's a bench along the wall opposite the door...
  • ... and this communal table by the left-hand wall.
  • The communal table looking slightly tidier. Sam or Neal saw me taking pictures!
  • During my visit, that was all the seating, but by now, the area beyond the curtain will be open.
  • Hey! What's that man reading?
  • Ah, Caffeine Magazine. Good choice!
  • I wonder where he got it from? Okay. I see :-)
  • The counter, a simple, two-part affair, is on the far right as you come in.
  • It starts with a small cake selection, plus the breakfast menu on the right.
  • Although small, it is a very select selection, baked either in-house or by Alan the Bread Man.
  • Talking of Alan, he also supplies all the bread used in the similarly select breakfast  menu.
  • Once a month, Upshot holds its renowned brunches.
  • More cacti, this time guarding the espresso machine.
  • This beauty is worth a second look. It was reconditioned by Neal himself.
  • At the far end of the counter is the cutlery and water.
  • Upshot wears its coffee geekery on its sleeve...
  • ... and on the menu on the wall behind the counter.
  • Bags of coffee for sale on shelves behind the counter...
  • ... while these are more for ad hoc use.
  • Other than Red Brick, the house-blend, shots are pre-weighed for espresso or filter...
  • ... and ground using the EK-43.
  • Sam, hard at work on the Faema E61.
  • I had a flat white with the guest, Round Hill's Kochere.
  • That latte-art is worth a second look.
  • I also had toast for breakfast...
  • ... until Neal decided to make me poached eggs on toast as a second breakfast!
  • More gorgeous latte art. Don't you just love the orange cups?
  • Each one of these is worth a second look.
  • Don't you agree?
  • The latte-art isn't just reserved for those customers staying in...
  • All the milk is from a local Sheffield dairy called Our Cow Molly.
  • Finally, I tried the guest as an espresso too.
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Upshot Espresso’s interior matches it modest exterior. It’s a bright, simple space, a rectangle, with the door in the centre of the long side, windows to either side. The counter’s at the right-hand end, the bulk of the seating in front and to your left. Diagonally opposite, at the far end of the counter, two steps lead up to an opening in the back wall. While I was there, this led to kitchen and bathroom, but by the time you read this, Upshot will have opened a third area on the right, which will provide additional seating.

Back in the main room, there were window-bars to both left and right. However, as part of the remodelling that’s seen the back room opened up, there should now only be one window-bar, to the left as you enter, the one to the right having been replaced by a retail shelf.

The bulk of the seating is provided by five tables in the main area, the largest of which is a six-person table towards the left-hand wall. A padded bench runs along the back wall, with a four-person and a couple of two-person tables. Finally, a lone two-person table sits in the middle of the room opposite the door. A low bench with magazines sits in front of counter, providing some separation between the seating and the counter area itself.

The windows make it a very bright space, helped by a window at the back. I was there on a particularly sunny February day, when the interior was flooded with light. I also got a sneak preview of the back room, which although small, seemed cosy and bright. On Sam’s insistence, I’m not going to mention the ceiling…

Ceiling aside, the real draw with Upshot is the coffee. The centrepiece is a 1990s Faema E61, refurbished by Neal himself (a mechanic-turned-plumber before he was a coffee shop owner), which turns out shot after shot of the house-blend, Square Mile’s Red Brick. However, I was interested in the guest, which that very morning had changed from Workshop to a Kochere single-origin from Bath’s Round Hill Roastery.

I tried it in a flat white, where it showed that it went well with milk, producing a smooth drink, full of complex flavours. I followed that up with an espresso, which was surprisingly fruity, but with the same complex, almost smoky, flavour to it that I’d detected in the flat white. As an espresso, it was also quite long, Sam pulling his shots with a ratio of 40g of water out to 20g of coffee in.

Both the cake and breakfast menus offer limited choice, with the focus on quality, not quantity. I selected the simple option of toast for breakfast, the bread being provided by local baker, Alan, aka “The Bread Man”, who runs The Baker’s Art. He also provides all the cake, with the exception of the brownies, which are baked in-house.

Once a month, Upshot hosts a Saturday brunch, with a bespoke menu. I was there a week early for February’s brunch, but Neal took pity on me and made a one-off second breakfast of poached eggs on toast so that I could see what I was missing. Both sets of toast were amazing, while the eggs were done to perfection, with rich, creamy yolks.

December 2015: Upshot Espresso was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Happiest Staff.

355 GLOSSOP ROAD • SHEFFIELD • S10 2HP +44 (0) 114 278 0333
Monday 08:00 – 16:30 Roaster Square Mile plus Guests (Espresso + Filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 16:30 Seating Tables, Window Bar
Wednesday 08:00 – 16:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 16:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 16:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday CLOSED Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits 9th February 2015

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