A couple of days ago, I was in my university city, Sheffield, for a night on the tiles. Four Tet was performing at Tuesday Club – following a sold-out event at Brixton only a few days previously – so it was not to be missed.
It was a fleeting visit filled with overdue catch-ups and brief encounters. The next day had to be kind as the 3-hour journey home was inevitably going to be a bumpy ride. An early start meant breakfast and caffeine was much needed, leading me to compile a list of Sheffield’s best independent cafés that would serve just about anyone depending on their needs/circumstances/caffeine requirement (delete as appropriate).
If you’re looking for a foodie trove… Marmaduke’s
I have raved about this establishment previously; my love for it cannot be expressed enough, clearly. With amazing flavour combinations showcased in their daily deli menus (salads, soups, quiches, and pies), as well as the delectable selection of cakes and sweet treats they have got going, Marmaduke’s is not one for shying away from big flavours and big delivery. On Norfolk Row, tucked away from the bustling centre, the outdoor seating area is just as relaxing as their indoor space, with cushions and feel-good wall art hanging. Your coffee and food are likely to be on the same high calibre as each other as they are lovingly prepared by highly-trained, passionate staff.
If you’re after somewhere cool and arty… Upshot Espresso
This indie café is intimidating – its exteriors are orange – yet homely. The selection of their home-baked cakes and carefully-selected menu items are slightly overwhelming – in a good way – and free-from options are often available too. Bonus: the latte art is definitely Instragram-worthy.
I hear their monthly brunches are also often very successful, with thoughtful culinary pairings clearly highlighting the foodies behind this operation. I mean, c’mon:
FYI: Their Instagram account is one to follow. This is opposite the University’s theatre studio, so expect an abundance of arts students frequenting this joint.
If you’re a coffee snob… Tamper Coffee
Tamper Coffee aims to bring New Zealand café culture to the UK. I have not been to NZ yet, but if the TC Westfield Terrace branch is anything to go by, I’d happily visit to sip coffees in an intimate, no-nonsense, relaxed atmosphere.
Their house blends are often rotated on the reg, as do their food (breakfast, lunch and brunch) menus. Baked goods are supplied by the infamous The Depot Bakery, boasting baci cakes and generous portions of cinnamon buns. Large jars of loose leaf teas adorn their shelves, whilst flyers of local events, free copies of VICE and other worthwhile reading materials (I spotted The Girl On The Train once) are scattered by the seating area.
I drank the best soy flat white in TC. In addition, their toasted organic bagel with organic crunchy PB provided some much needed energy (served on a wooden board, by the way).
This is a coffee lover’s haven if I ever saw one.
If you want something quintessential… The Curator’s House Café Bistro (in the Botanical Gardens)
The staff do not resemble the cast of Portlandia, as with many independent cafés and coffee shops in the Steel City, and normcore ice cream flavours and sandwich fillings should be expected. This should not deter you from visiting, however. The outdoor seating area of this establishment may be tucked away, but the enviable views of the Gardens and buzzing vibe at the weekends make this a refreshing escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and Sheffield’s student areas.
And if you’re feeling slightly unimaginative… Starbucks (Orchard Square) and Costa (Broomhill)
Hear me out: they are not independent cafés so they each count as a half , but these branches are better than the rest if you’re after some corporate cuppa and that PSL fix. The Starbucks branch has an outdoor seating area upstairs with a balcony overlooking the busy Orchard Square Shopping Centre. Costa’s large Broomhill joint also has a large seating area upstairs if you would like to steer clear of the young families and professionals who tend to gather on the ground floor.
Admittedly, both cafés deviate from the alternative feel of the rest of the city, but these particular branches provide the perfect atmosphere for studying, catch-ups and people-watching. Plus, you’ll avoid the flood of shoppers that usually flock to Fargate’s Nero and ‘bucks.