Good coffee doesn’t happen by accident. Intentional farming practices, skillful roasting, and precise brewing are just a few of the mind boggling number of variables that must be in place to produce a delicious cup of coffee. As such, we don’t usually find great cafes by accident either. Most coffee shops we visit were either recommended by trusted friends or renowned in the specialty coffee community. This makes our first visit to Upshot Espresso all the more serendipitous.
Sheffield is the quintessential Northern English city. The world’s first football team was formed here, everyone has those lovely Yorkshire accents, and the Peaks District of Pride and Prejudice fame is just a stone’s throw away. Sheffield is also a college town, home to one of England’s six Red Brick Universities. It was while walking along the campus of the University of Sheffield that we happened upon Upshot.
Normally, the state lottery and the Kentucky Derby are two safer bets than checking out an unproven coffee shop, but on this particular morning I had a particularly acute case of jet lag and altogether not enough sleep. It was one of those moments that coffee was less of a luxury and more of a necessity- at least from my very privileged perspective. I ordered a flat white, which I figured was a safe bet- even the darkest of blends can be drinkable with enough dairy. As I waited for my drink I sized up the place: locally baked pastries, filter coffee brewed with Aeropresses, a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder. Coupled with the rustic interior, I began to realize we had stumbled into a craft coffee shop. When my flat white arrived my suspicions were confirmed by a lovely tulip gracing the top of the foam. A sip proved the rich, chocolaty espresso was well balanced by the creamy milk.
Since we visited, Upshot has added Workshop Coffee and Square Mile Coffee to their multi-roaster line up. These two companies consistently roast great coffee, and ranked among our favorite English roasters on our London cafe crawl. Upshot has become a favorite haunt of several of our friends in Sheffield, including Tim Brown who shot these fantastic photos for us. We don’t know when we’ll get to visit England again- but we’re sure we’ll be meeting friends for coffee at Upshot when we do.
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