A new arrival in Leeds’ growing speciality coffee scene is Stage Espresso and Brew Bar (Stage, for short), which opened at the start of 2017, tucked away behind the Town Hall and opposite the Leeds General Infirmary. Although it hadn’t been open long when I visited in August, it had already garnered high praise, being the one place everyone in Leeds consistently mentioned when I asked about new coffee shops to visit.
It’s a lovely spot, on a north-facing corner, with windows along two sides, plus a cosy downstairs seating area at the back that’s probably slightly bigger than the already spacious upstairs. However, perhaps the best feature is Copper, a young Beagle (who is the same age as Stage, give or take a month). You can find him most days, curled up in his basket by the retail shelves at the back.
When it comes to coffee, Stage uses Union Hand-roasted, although there are plans to have occasional guests in as and when there’s something that catches the eye. There’s a house-espresso, plus a guest, along with multiple options on filter. One of these is available as a daily bulk-brew, while the rest are made using the Kalita Wave.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Stage Espresso and Brew Bar occupies a bright spot on the corner of Great George Street and Oxford Row, just north-west of Leeds’ compact city centre. It’s a beautiful building, with long, deep windows, each surmounted by a single arch. A single, wide window faces Great George Street, with the deeply-recessed door to the right. The windows then follow the sharp curve of the street around to the steeply-descending Oxford Row. There are three windows to the right of the door: one at 45⁰ degrees on the corner, and two more on Oxford Row itself. Finally, after a brick pillar, a smaller sash window overlooks Oxford Row.
Inside a lovely, wood-built counter occupies most of the left-hand side. The front runs parallel to Great George Street, the right-hand side following Oxford Row, so it narrows towards the back, as does Stage itself, forming a thick wedge. Facing Great George Street, you’ll find cakes and sandwiches, while Oxford Row has the espresso machine and grinder, with the till opposite the door. There’s an EK43 and all the paraphernalia for filter coffee on the wall to the left behind the counter.
Immediately to the left of the door, a very comfortable-looking pair of armchairs occupy the window, while on the right, a long window-bar with seven bar stools sweeps along, overlooking Oxford Row. You get a great view of the Leeds General Infirmary from here. Next comes a set of retail shelves, then there’s an L-shaped padded bench built into the back right-hand corner. You can get four people in here if you squeeze up. This is next to a flight of stairs, at the apex of the wedge, which lead down to the basement.
Technically it’s only half a basement, with two windows towards the top of the right-hand wall looking out at pavement level onto Oxford Row. In that sense it’s behind, rather than under, Stage, the steps leading straight down. There’s a four-person table on the right, with a two-person table on the left, then a large, communal table runs almost the full width of the room, complete with benches. Beyond that, at the back of the room, is a large black sofa on the right, facing two huge armchairs on the left across a coffee table. An equally large TV is mounted on the back wall.
Stage has a selection of cakes and sandwiches, plus tea and hot chocolate. However, the focus is on the coffee, the name “Stage” partly chosen because the owners, two brothers, see the coffee shop as a stage on which to showcase great coffee.
The house-espresso is always a Bobolink from Brazil, with the guest espresso changing every month or so. While I was there, the bulk-brew was a Burundi, with the Bobolink and another Brazilian joined by a Colombian on pour-over. However, it was the guest espresso, the Achibo, a Yayu Wild Forest coffee from Ethiopia, which caught my eye.
I tried this as a split shot, which arrived beautifully-presented on a diamond-shaped wooden tray, complete with a glass of sparkling water. The espresso was quite punchy on the first sip and while more rounded on the second, it was nevertheless very full-bodied. It also goes very well in milk, and I had a rich, creamy piccolo, milk and coffee in perfect harmony.
|41 GREAT GEORGE STREET • LEEDS • LS1 3BB|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Union (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs, Window-bar|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Cakes, Sandwiches|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||29th August 2017|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Leeds’ speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Leeds.
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