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).
It’s been just over three years since I visited Foundry Coffee Roasters, who can claim to be Sheffield’s first speciality coffee roasters. Even then, chatting with Lee and Callum, the two driving forces behind Foundry, it was obvious that a café was on the roadmap, although it would be almost another two years before that particular dream became a reality and Foundry Coffee opened its doors on Bank Street in January 2017. Of course, it was then another year before I eventually dragged myself back to the city, paying Foundry a flying visit yesterday lunchtime.
As you would expect, the café is a showcase for Foundry’s coffee, although rather than bamboozle the customers with choice, there are just two options, called Comfort and Adventure, the former a more “conventional” coffee (a washed Guatemalan during my visit) and the latter a bit more far out (a washed Ethiopian). These are available as espresso or pour-over through the V60, with the particular beans changing every month or so, drawn from Foundry’s wider selection of single-origin beans. This is backed up by Kokoa Collection hot chocolate and tea from Birdhouse Tea Company. There’s also breakfast, lunch and a range of cake and sandwiches.
November 2019: Foundry has moved to the Cutlery Works, a food hall on the banks of the River Don, combining its coffee shop and roastery operations. As a result, it’s left Wharncliffe House, the coffee shop there being taken over by Cassinelli’s.
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.
January 2017: Foundry now has a coffee shop of its very own on Bank Street in Sheffield City Centre. You can see what I made of it when I visited in February 2018.
November 2019: Foundry has moved to the Cutlery Works, a food hall on the banks of the River Don, combining its coffee shop and roastery operations. As a result, it’s closed the original roastery and the coffee shop on Bank Street (the coffee shop being taken over by Cassinelli’s).
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).
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.