Somewhere everyone had been telling me to go in York was Stanley & Ramona, slightly off the beaten track on Bishopthorpe Road, outside the city walls and a whole 15-minute walk from the city centre. Stanley & Ramona’s run by a lovely couple, disappointingly called Lee and Lucy, although they do redeem themselves by having alliterative names, which always gets bonus points.
Stanley & Ramona is a small spot, where the outside seating (four two-person tables) outnumbers the inside seating (benches along the window and by the counter). This makes for a very cosy atmosphere where you are somewhat obliged to talk with Lee & Lucy. Fortunately they are excellent company, although they did spend most of my visit insulting the other customers.
Somewhere along the line there is coffee, from Cornwall’s Origin on espresso and from various guests on filter through the Chemex. There’s also a decent breakfast/lunch menu.
Kiosk: Project Space is an interesting little spot on York’s Fossgate. A little way down from old hands Spring Espresso, it’s right next to the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, so much so that when I first visited, I did a double-take, fearing that I had come to the wrong place before spotting it, tucked in to the right. Run by the wonderful Russ and Rebecca, who get bonus points for name alliteration, it is a hybrid: part gallery, part coffee shop and part kitchen, but 100% amazing.
The art/gallery comes in the shape of ceramics, textiles, fine art, jewellery and a whole lot more, all of which adorns the walls and shelves on both sides of Kiosk. While everything is for sale, it also acts as decoration, turning Kiosk into a wonderfully eclectic spot. The food appears from a tiny kitchen at the back, where impressive all-day breakfast and lunch options are turned out using a seasonal menu. The coffee, meanwhile, is from the wizards at Dark Woods, with a single-origin on espresso and another on filter through V60, Aeropress or Chemex (for two). The coffee is bought in 8 kg amounts and when it’s gone, another takes its place.
Brew & Brownie, on York’s Museum Street, is just over the river from the original Perky Peacock. It had just celebrated its first birthday when I visited York last summer. Unfortunately, I was there on a Monday, and Monday is the one day that it’s closed, so I missed out. This year, I made sure I went back on Sunday, partly because the coffee comes from Cumbria’s Carvetii, one of my favourite roasters, and partly because several people had independently raved about the American-style pancakes, and regular readers know what I think about pancakes!
As well as pancakes, Brew & Brownie offers comprehensive breakfast and lunch menus, plus sandwiches. Breakfast is served until 11.30, at which point lunch takes over until the end of the day. I arrived at 11.50, but fortunately, the aforementioned pancakes are available as a brunch option throughout the day. There’s also an extensive range of cakes, which, unsurprisingly, features a wide variety of brownies. Throughout, though, the emphasis is on locally-sourced, high-quality, seasonal produce.
As well as Carvetii’s house-blend espresso, Brew & Brownie offers an Aeropress option, with loose-leaf tea from Merseyside’s Brew Tea Co, plus hot chocolate and a range of soft drinks.
For once, I’ve done a chain in the correct order, having first visited the original Tamper Coffee on Westfield Terrace in Sheffield before venturing down the following day to Sellers Wheel on Arundel Street for breakfast. The contrast between the two in terms of size and scope could hardly be greater; Westfield Terrace is a small, cosy, neighbourhood coffee shop, while Sellers Wheel is much larger, with a strong focus on food, although still retaining Westfield Terrace’s intimacy and emphasis on great coffee.
For those who’ve visited Ozone’s roastery/café in London will be familiar with the concept. Meanwhile if you’ve been to Caravan King’s Cross, there’s a certain similarity in look and feel, although Sellers Wheel is much smaller; you could probably fit four of it into Caravan (eight if you stacked them vertically as well).
In some ways, Sellers Wheel (like Caravan) is two-shops-in-one. You enter into a small area, best described as a coffee lounge, and, if you just want coffee, you could always stay here since it makes a great option by itself. Sellers Wheel proper, though, which is where all the food is, is at the back, through a doorway to the left of the counter.
Marmadukes Café and Deli is tucked away opposite Sheffield’s Catholic Cathedral on Norfolk Row, a lovely, quiet street that makes sitting out in the sun almost compulsory. However, to do so would miss out on an even lovelier interior. Occupying all three floors of a rambling, old house, Marmadukes is a cosy, friendly spot that has something for everyone, each of its five distinct spaces offering something unique. Beware of the maze-like interior though; I went the wrong way at least three times!
The coffee’s pretty good too, with head-barista Alex determined to keep Marmadukes up there with the best in Sheffield and beyond. The mainstay is London’s Workshop, the Cult of Done seasonal espresso front-and-centre on Marmadukes’ new La Marzocco Linear PB. Recent investment in an EK-43 grinder has allowed Marmadukes’ guest roaster, which changes every month, to now be offered on both espresso and filter. During August, it’s Finchley’s Campbell & Syme. Before that it was local roaster, Worksop’s Sundlaug Coffee Co..
However, it’s not just the coffee. Marmadukes has always had excellent food, as good as anywhere in Sheffield, with dedicated breakfast, all-day brunch and lunch menus, plus a stupendous range of cakes, including the house-speciality, cheesecake.
As I have written elsewhere about Sheffield’s coffee scene, it very much grew up independently and spontaneously about three years ago. This holds true as much for its cafés as it does for its roasters, typified by the subject of today’s Meet The Roaster series, Foundry. Set up almost three years ago by founder, Lee, Foundry is content to do its own thing, in its own way and at its own pace.
Concentrating on roasting solely single origins and on selling primarily directly to the consumer through the internet, Foundry initially focused more on the filter market than espresso, which makes up the bulk of a typical roaster’s sales. Then again, there’s nothing typical about Foundry! Foundry diversified into espresso when the second member of the team, Callum, came on board.
These days, Foundry roasts five or six single-origin beans, looking to extract the flavours that Lee identifies in the green bean. The aim is to get the optimum roast profile and then work out what extraction method best suits it, with a focus on the clarity of the taste. You can find Foundry’s output on its website although the coffee’s also available in a limited number of coffee shops.
The original Tamper Coffee, on Sheffield’s Westfield Terrace, opened three years ago, heralding, along with Upshot Espresso and Marmadukes the arrival of speciality coffee in the Steel City. There’s not much to Westfield Terrace and, while it’s bigger than it looks on the inside, that’s only because it looks really tiny from the street. However, don’t let that put you off. Powered by London-based, Kiwi-inspired roasters, Ozone, Tamper packs in the sort of coffee experience you’d expect at a much larger place.
There are two blends (a bespoke house-blend exclusive to Tamper, plus a guest) on espresso, along with decaf, and a choice of three single-origins. These are offered as an espresso, split shot (single-shot espresso plus piccolo) or hand-brewed filter, available through a variety of methods: V60, Aeropress or Syphon for one/two (as long as it’s not too busy).
If that wasn’t enough, there’s a decent selection of food as well. Although the menu’s necessarily limited (the kitchen, at the back of the store, is in keeping with rest of Tamper, ie, tiny!), it includes breakfast, various lunch options (sandwiches, pies and soup of the day) plus, at weekends, brunch through until three o’clock. And there’s cake too!
Upshot 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).
Opposite is a chain of three coffee shops in Leeds. The original Opposite (opposite Leeds University, hence the name) is 10 years old, while the third, out in Chapel Allerton, opened just over a year ago. This, the second Opposite, opened five years ago, under the soaring stained-glass arcades of the Victoria Quarter shopping centre in the heart of Leeds.
The Victoria Quarter branch is an interesting hybrid. It’s a kiosk, and feels like it should be a takeaway spot, but it’s got seating. However, despite the soaring glass ceiling, it’s not exactly the same as sitting inside, which I discovered on a freezing day in February where it was about as a warm as sitting out on the street… That said, it is an absolutely magnificent setting and well worth visiting. Just remember to wrap up warm. Or go in the summer.
Despite its small size, the Victoria Quarter Opposite packs a lot in, including a full range of espresso-based drinks, along with filter options (all from London’s Square Mile). There’s also a decent range of food, including sandwiches and cakes. The only downside is that all the drinks are served in takeaway cups…
January 2017: Sadly I have learnt that Opposite’s Victoria Quarter branch has had to close. It will be sadly missed.
Nothing beats a local recommendation, so when Morrell, head barista at Sheffield’s Tamper, said I should try Steam Yard, literally just down the street from Tamper’s Westfield Terrace branch, I was very tempted. Then I got an e-mail from the owner, Nick, saying I should pop by and that decided it. I mean, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?
Steam Yard is located in Aberdeen Court, just off Sheffield’s Division Street, and might be the perfect location for a coffee shop. Aberdeen Court is a fairly small space, lined by two-storey brick-built buildings on three sides, which Steam Yard shares with an alternative clothing store (Rocky Horror) and a tattoo parlour. It’s that kind of place.
You enter Aberdeen Court via a pair of steel gates, tattoo parlour to the right and Rocky Horror on the left. Steam Yard itself occupies the ground floor at the back of the court, with a generous array of outdoor seating, screened off from the rest of the courtyard by a large planter.
As well as a lovely setting, Steam Yard is serious about its coffee, with a house-blend from Yorkshire roasting power-house, Grumpy Mule, and regularly-rotating guests occupying the second grinder.
July 2015: Steam Yard has switched its house-blend to Square Mile.