Whaletown Coffee Co.

A lovely flat white, made with the Dark Horse blend from Quarter Horse, and served in a gorgeous, handleless cup at Whaletown Coffee Co. in Sheffield.Since I was last in Sheffield, the city’s speciality coffee scene has undergone quite an expansion. Amanda and I were driving past a couple of weeks ago, so we decided to call in and see what was going on. Sadly, we only had time to visit a single shop, choosing Whaletown Coffee Co, which opened at the start of last year, one of several places I’ve found through Instagram (and in particular Coffee Girl Needs).

Whaletown is in Crookes, in the hills to the west of the city centre, which made it relatively easy to get to as we were driving through. A simple, minimalist, Scandi-inspired place, Whaletown is a multi-roaster with a different roaster each month on espresso (two options) and filter (two or three options) although sometimes (as it was during our visit, when Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters was in the house) the same roaster appears on both.

Whaletown offers the usual espresso-based options, batch brew and pour-over (V60 or Chemex for two) as well as several specials. This is backed up by a small but tasty food offering based around sourdough bagels, rye bread, sausage/vegan rolls, granola (for breakfast) and cakes (for those with a sweet tooth).

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On the hills to the west of Sheffield city centre, in a terrace on the west side of Crookes...
  • ... stands the small, simple facade of Whaletown Coffee Co.
  • Here's the view as you approach along the street.
  • Stepping inside, Whaletown occupies a simple, rectangular space. There's seating along...
  • ... along the left-hand wall, with a picnic-style table on the right.
  • There's more seating at the front, to your right as you enter...
  • ... including a window-bar to the right of the door.
  • The window-bar seats four people on high stools.
  • There's a four-person sofa against the right-hand wall, with a low coffee table.
  • The picnic-style table on the right seats four (or six at a pinch) on two benches.
  • The remaining seating is on the left, with these two small, two-person tables...
  • ... followed by a four-person table with tall stools that's just in front of the counter.
  • Talking of which, here it is, right at the back.
  • There's a set of retail shelves to the right of the counter, with bags of coffee and lots...
  • ... of other goodies. Nice choice of reading material, by the way.
  • There are more retail shelves to the left of the counter, with more retail bags of coffee.
  • Although the layout is very simple, there are plenty of pictures decorating the walls.
  • In case you forget where you are.
  • This is flanked by a couple of gorgeous colour prints. There's a portafilter on the left...
  • ... and a Chemex on the right.
  • Simpler pictures line the left-hand wall, including this espresso machine...
  • ... another portafilter...
  • ... and another Chemex.
  • There are also several coffee-themed maps...
  • ... which leads us nicely on to the Independent Coffee Guide.
  • It's not all pictures though. This old grinder and vintage thermos are by the window.
  • There are also plants on the tables.
  • Down to business. You order at the counter at the back...
  • ... although there are also menus on the tables (which we missed). There are specials...
  • ... a whole page of food, including sourdough bagels and rye bread toast...
  • ... and another page dedicated to the drinks.
  • The cakes (and the sausage/vegan rolls) are displayed on the counter, with macarons...
  • ... to the right and pastries to the right of them.
  • There's more detail at the right-hand end of the counter...
  • ... where you'll find a copy of the drinks menu...
  • ... with a simplifed version on the wall above/behind the counter.
  • The filter and espresso choices (all from Quarter Horse during our visit) are also displayed.
  • The coffee (and tea) part of the operation is tucked away behind the counter on the right.
  • Amanda and I started off with a flat white (Amanda) and batch brew (me).
  • The view from Amanda's side of the table (photo by Amanda).
  • My batch brew was a washed coffee from the Kigeyo Washing Station in Rwanda...
  • ... which I paired with a particularly fine vegan roll (picture by Amanda).
  • Amanda's flat white used the Dark Horse blend and was served in a lovely, handleless cup.
  • She paired it with a dark chocolate coconut flapjack.
  • We followed this with a pair of pour-overs (both V60s), served in metal jugs with cups...
  • ... on the side. Here's the all-important pouring of the coffee (hand modelling by Amanda).
  • The poured coffee, with jug and cup presented on a wooden tray. We tried both the...
  • ... remaining options: a Finca La Esquinita (Nicaragua) and a Shakiso Wako #2 (Ethiopia).
  • We paired our second round of coffee with the coffee culture rugbrød (Amanda)...
  • ... and a cream cheese and avocado bagel (me).
  • My pour-over and bagel.
  • Finally, I'll leave you with the last plum and almond Danish pastry, which we took with us!
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Whaletown Coffee Co. is in the middle of a long terrace on the west side of Crookes, near its northern (top) end. It has a simple, black-painted façade, with the door on the left and a large, rectangular window to the right, making the front almost all glass. If you want to sit outside by the busy road (complete with on-street parking right in front of the shop) then there’s a solitary bench and fold-up stool which can double as a coffee table.

Inside, Whaletown occupies a simple, rectangular space, with the counter at back on the left. The seating starts with a four-person window-bar to the right of the door, followed by a four-person sofa against the right-hand wall. This is made of four padded cubes, with cushions on top/against the wall (which provide the back of the sofa). There’s a low coffee table in front, with a further two cubes, each with a single cushion on top, opposite that.

The final seating on the right-hand side is a four/six-person picnic-style table with benches for seating. There’s more seating on the left, where two small, square, two-person tables project from the left-hand wall, each with a pair of low, square stools for seating. Beyond these, almost up to the counter, is a high, four-person table with tall stools for seating, and that’s it. The counter itself is slightly recessed with retail shelves to left and right, offering retail bags of coffee, coffee kit and other goodies.

Amanda and I arrived for a late lunch, although we completely missed the bagels and other options the first time around (the menus are on the tables). Instead I had a very fine vegan roll with extremely flaky pastry and pickle on the side. Amanda, in contrast, had a dark chocolate coconut flapjack (for lunch: I pass no further comment).

All the coffee was from Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters (a fairly unusual occurrence), with two blends (Dark Horse and Roan) on espresso and three single-origins on pour-over, one of which was also on batch brew). Amanda had a flat white, made with the Dark Horse blend, which she really enjoyed, the coffee coming strongly through milk, providing rich chocolate and nut notes. Meanwhile I had the batch brew, a washed coffee from the Kigeyo Washing Station in Rwanda, which was smooth and fruity.

It was then that we noticed the food menu, returning for the coffee culture rugbrød (Amanda) and a cream cheese and avocado bagel (me). The rugbrød consisted of a very thick slice of Danish rye bread, topped with smoked salmon, smashed avocado and cream cheese, which Amanda pronounced to be very tasty. My bagel just had cream cheese and avocado, a pairing I’ve not had before but which went extremely well together, while the bagel itself was excellent.

Finally, we had a pair of pour-overs, sampling the Finca La Esquinita (Nicaragua) and the Shakiso Wako #2 (Ethiopia). Both were excellent, although I preferred the rich smoothness of the Nicaraguan while Amanda favoured the Ethiopian’s floral, fruity notes. I didn’t get them at first, but they came through strongly as it cooled.

Before we left, we took the final plum and almond Danish pastry with us, enjoying it later that evening, which was an excellent way to round off the day!

December 2020: Whaletown Coffee Co. has won the 2020 Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

Monday 08:30 – 17:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables, Window-bar, Sofa; Bench (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 17:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 21st February 2020

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