Stage Espresso and Brew Bar

The minimalist sign for Stage Espresso and Brewbar, hanging outside on Oxford Row.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.

  • On Great George Street in Leeds, across the road from Leeds General Infirmary...
  • ... at the corner with Oxford Row, stands the very lovely Stage Espresso and Brew Bar.
  • Nice sign.
  • This is the view as you enter, the wooden counter dead ahead.
  • A view of the counter from off to the right.
  • The seating is fairly straight forward. These armchairs occupy the space between the...
  • ... counter and the window to the left of the door. The view is pretty good from here...
  • ... with Leeds General Infirmary across the road.
  • Meanwhile, to the right of the door, a window-bar sweeps down along Oxford Row.
  • Another look at the window-bar and its bar-stools.The view's pretty good from here too.
  • This is opposite the counter, which runs back from the door on the left.
  • There's one more seating area here, right at the back.
  • It's this cosy L-shaped bench and its coffee table, which slots in...
  • ... next to the stairs, which lead tantalisingly down.
  • Let's go explore, shall we?
  • They lead to a downstairs seating area with many basement-like qualities.
  • There's a fair bit of seating down here, starting with this two-person table on the left...
  • ... while there's this four-person table to right...
  • ... seen here from the other side.
  • Next comes this magnificent communal table running almost the full width of the room...
  • ... before we get to the massive TV at the back, complete with armchairs and sofa.
  • Okay. Time to go back up the stairs...
  • ... which, I will warn you now, are pretty steep.
  • A view of the upstairs/front of Stage, as seen from the top of the stairs.
  • Stage is blessed with some excellent light-fittings. These are downstairs...
  • ... and look even better in this shot (in my opinion that is).
  • Last one, I promise (of these).
  • Not to be outdone, upstairs also has its light-fittings...
  • ... including these hanging over the counter.
  • I loved some of the detail, such as the tops of the columns, which are mirrored outside.
  • This lovely bureau is downstairs...
  • ... as are these plants on the wall.
  • Back upstairs and there's a set of retail shelves at the back on the right.
  • However, the best feature of all might be this young man, Copper. He's a bit sleepy.
  • Copper did think about getting up, but then decided it was all too much effort...
  • ... so he went back to bed. I can't say I blame him.
  • So, to business.
  • You order at the front of the counter, coffee to the right, food to the left.
  • There are sandwiches laid out to tempt you...
  • ... with the cake hidden away at the back...
  • ... underneath the drinks menu on the wall.
  • The actual choices of bean are down by the till...
  • ... from where you can see the espresso machine in action.
  • I had a split shot of the guest espresso, the Achibo, a wild Ethiopian coffee.
  • All gone now. Impressive milk though, holding the pattern to the bottom of the cup.
  • I also had a sandwich for lunch: cheddar, chutney and tomato.
  • I'll leave you with my sandwich taking in the view.
Photo Carousel by v4.6

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.

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)
Sunday CLOSED Power Yes
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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